Multiple problems could cause corporate crises : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Numerous problems rocking a single organisation simultaneously will be the main cause of millennium bug crises, a Year 2000 expert has predicted.

This was the view of Tom Norris, testing strategist at Dresdner Kleinwort Benson, who spoke at a Financial Services Authority conference on the millennium bug in London on Friday.

"The difference from a 'normal' crisis and a millennium crisis is the number of normally unrelated problems which will appear at the same time. Many of these problems will be ones that will be outside the organisation's control, and they will be unable to fix them," he said.

"If problems become serious, reverting to a disaster recovery site won't help," Norris warned.

But the news is not all bad, he said. "Can we forecast when we might have a problem? Yes. We can look at the results of our millennium bug testing results, we can look at our experience from different crises, and we can use our experience of other business changes."

Norris added that different systems and suppliers are prone to fail at different times so organisations should be able to estimate when failures from these sources are most likely to occur.

Crises are likely to stem from a slow degradation in services over a number of weeks after the date rollover, but he warned that there are also a number of high risk days that businesses should be aware of. These include 1 January, 2000, the end of the first week and the end of the first month.

Norris said most large organisations are planning to operate a bug command centre or nerve centre to combat any problems over the millennium period.

He said there was a subtle difference between the two. A command centre centralises crisis control with all relevant staff constantly present. A nerve centre, by contrast, is a communications centre, which can escalate any problem to the appropriate level to get it fixed.

"A nerve centre has phone numbers and contact information, which I believe is a better way of handing a crisis than having a big team of top people in the office. There are less wasted resources and a nerve centre is rapidly scaleable," explained Norris.

He said each component of a business should have critical success indicators, which should be checked at predetermined times over the millennium period and the results communicated to the nerve centre.

Action plans should be prepared for the possible failure of each of the critical success indicators and tests should be run to ensure the action plan can actually be implemented, he advised.

-- regular (zzz@z.z), June 28, 1999


Well, THAT was certainly one of those blows-to-the-solar-plexus kind of pieces! Thanks, regular. Yes, Mr. Norris is probably right on the money in his recommendations. Just as Paula Gordon was on the money in her white paper. And his recommendations have about as much chance of being implemented by most corporations as hers were by government.

I will say, though, that if I were going to ask my organization to rely on a nerve center, I would want radios and a variety of tested alternative means of communication on hand, not just telephones. Kind of follow the Natl Guard model; hold a drill or two. And I would have a control center, toofor the rollover itself, with relief to come from the nerve center. I would want two shifts on hand, minimum, and maybe three, in case the relief folks couldnt get in.

But then we who have been looking at this for a year or so are accustomed to scrolling through possible scenarios and we have had the benefit of this TB2K Think Tank to produce hosts of possible responses. How many on corporates executive planning team have weighed the delicacy of the global, interlaced networks on which everything depends?

Even Mr. Norris, who understands that business may see a slow degradation in services as the dominos fall, cant see past his own niche. What if its not simply business thats prone to degradation? What if, say, certain segments of the infrastructure see some degradation of their own? And what if it isnt exactly slow?

Still, if Mr. Norris is successful in convincing executives to give their contingency planning even as much thought as is outlined, Ill applaud him. ANYTHING that anyone does to cushion the blow helps. Im trying to get a guy I know who is president of the US branch of this Japanese corporation and who lives in Southern CA at least to store some water in his basement for his wife and kids. He laughs at me. Theyre relatives, actually. Breaks my heart. So, yeah, Mr. Norris, keep sounding the call. And thanks again, regular, for posting his words.

-- Faith Weaver (, June 28, 1999.

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