Can old-timers kill 2000 bug?

Richard Rosser’s message (MW January 29) that “the year 2000 situation is a business problem rather than an IT problem” is very wise counsel.

He is right to point out that once systems begin to crash, “fire fighting will take over from any process resolution”. What could this mean for business (as opposed to IT) managers? In the past week I have seen predictions that planes may not be able to fly; production lines may halt; suppliers may not be able to deliver; payrolls may not run; invoices may not get raised – worse, those that do may not get paid. How long would a business survive with no cash coming in?

If just one of these events occurs in an organisation, will the management experience be found in-house to solve the problem? Is there someone in the organisation who remembers how to prepare manually a production schedule? To compile an invoice? To compute income tax and national insurance on a payslip?

Grey-haired programmers have been pulled out of retirement to modify some of the ancient computer systems; grey-haired interim managers may also be required (and they are available) to create workable bypass systems to keep companies going.

Careful chief executives will be preparing their management contingency plans now.

Bob Snell

Managing director

Executives on Assignment

Slough

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