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"Are You Y2K Ok?"
by Juliana Lucas
Published in COSE Update
11/1/1998

How do I know if I'm Y2K Ok?
There's no simple yes or no answer to this question. To figure out whether or not you systems are Y2K complaint, you need to take the time to figure out where all the potential problems are(i.e., where exactly you're using microchips), and run tests to see if the systems will still work after the millennium. If you bought your system in the last 2 years, your probably already year 2000 complaint, says Don Scipione, President of Acme Express Inc., a web-design, e-commerce, and software development and implementation firm. Still he suggests checking with your hardware or software vendors to be on the safe side.

Beside your vendors and manufactures, another excellent source for help is the SBA. One of the biggest priorities lately has been educating small-business owners on the year 2000 problem - and helping them solve it. Visit http://sba.gov/y2k for the SBA's website devoted just for this issue. Included are check lists that will help you pinpoint all of your potential Y2K's pitfalls. If you can't access the website, call toll free (1-800-RU-Y2K-OK) to receive fax-on-demand information on how to prepare for the new millennium. Still another form of assistance is a toll-free help desk (1-800-U-ASK-SBA) where you can have your specific questions answered. "There are consultants you can go to who can give you the same checklists", Goldberg says. "But our checklist is a totally free service".

After you checked with your computer vendor and SBA, there are test you can run yourself or with your staff to check with y2k compatibility. "Try to make and invoice for the year 2000," suggests Scipione. "Or set the clock on your PC for 2001." If your system is more complex or you want a more thorough test run, there is software designed specifically to test for year 2000 compatibility.. Simply check with your computer manufacturer to find out how and where these programs are available.

Once you've tested all your hardware and software, however, you're still not off the hook. Not only do you need consider all of your potentially dysfunctional systems, but those of your partners, vendors, suppliers and other associates, warns Scipione. "There's not a whole lot you can do about this," he says. "If your buying from a larger company, you can probably bet they're 2000 compliant. The only other thing you can do is send out notes to your vendors asking when they plan to be compliant. Still there are no guarantees".

How do I get with the (Y2K- Compliant) Program?
Once you figure out whether or not your up to Y2K-compliant snuff, it's imperative that you act on it. Fast. Scipione says that business owners should be well into their year 2000 preparations already. A thorough checklist, like the one provided by SBA, will tell you whether or not you can take the proper steps yourself or with your staff, or if you need to out source a consulting firm.

It might be as simple as upgrading your system or software to a newer, Y2K-compliant version. "If you can go with the same software, it will be easier to extract you old data and put it into your new version", says Scipione. "Plus your people will be familiar with the old software". He dose warn that the conversion of old data into a new system particularly a new system produced by a different company can take months.

In many cases, Scipione says it's best to purchase new accounting or manufacturing software, for example, then to upgrade the version you have now. "There are many systems that are cost-effective as a opposed to what was available 10 years ago," he says.

He suggest this option in part because consumers can't really expect too much from their software due to its unpredictable nature. "People are trying to get involved legally with there software manufacturers, but historically, the software industry dose not guarantee that their product will meet any requirements." This is because software is subject to the consumers widely varying environments, and there's really no way for software engineers to determine what will happen in every one of those scenarios. In other words, you can not hope to make your software developer responsible if the software you purchased is not year 2000 compliant. "Its often best to buy software that is.

Instead of just simply buying new software, many corporations will have to go the other route and hire a computer consulting firm to get the job done. "There are a lot of businesses that have sprung up just to fix this problem," says Goldberg. Still Scipione says it's absolutely necessary to hire these professionals ASAP. Because people have put off acting on this problem, he predicts that computer consultants' rates will skyrocket by mid 1999.

The important thing to remember, though, is that there is help available. While this problem is a big one that is not going to go away, it is a manageable one. If you take the rights steps, and take them now, th year 2000 problem doesn't have to be so much of a problem after all.


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