End-to end testing reveals food supply flaw

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Issue date: 30 September 1999 Article source: Computer Weekly News Food giant takes another bite at Y2K compliance Antony Savvas

Northern Foods has had to extend testing of its supply chain to achieve year 2000 compliance despite previously concluding that it was clear from problems.

As a result, the UK food manufacturer has recommended that others in the sector do the same extended testing to avoid Y2K failure.

With the testing for Y2K now complete, Northern Foods said it could now also concentrate on migrating to a SAP core for its supply chain while others are putting off new applications until after the dreaded date scare.

For its extended Y2K testing, Northern Foods used GE Information Services' Supply Chain 2000 software. Northern Foods e-commerce manager Lesley Heron said, "End-to-end trading between ourselves and our trading partners would have fallen over on 1 January had we not implemented further testing.

"If others don't complete similar testing, they will not be able to deliver food to supermarket shelves."

Northern Foods' new problem - discovered when the group ran a temporary trading network using advanced dates in parallel with its real trading network - showed paperwork would not have been successfully transmitted to suppliers from 1 January.

Heron explained, "Certain suppliers would have been unable to process some of the outbound transmissions or electronic documents, such as delivery notes and invoices. Although the problem was ultimately a simple one, it needed specialist knowledge to fix."

Northern Foods has been using a dedicated AS/400 system to complete Y2K compliance work, and it used this system to drive two GE purchasing mail boxes costing #1,200 each. One mail box was run by Northern, the other was shared by the suppliers in the supply chain to test each other.

Heron said, "I imagine our larger rivals have or are doing something similar, but the smaller firms may be tempted to think they have already done enough, without this sort of end-to-end testing."

On the SAP installation, Heron said Northern had already gone live with it at one site, and was now extending the migration to about 20 other companies within the group. Currently Northern uses several proprietary systems to run its supply chain.

Catch up with all the latest Y2K issues in the Millennium section of the Management Area.

FAQ, Contact us, send feedback @COMPUTERWEEKLY ) 1999 Reed Business Information Limited

-- argh (argh@nowhere.com), September 30, 1999


**"If others don't complete similar testing, they will not be able to deliver food to supermarket shelves."**

92 days left. Dear God. If you don't GI after this, you never will.

-- John Ainsworth (ainsje@cstone.net), September 30, 1999.

"If you don't GI..."

I never will. They fixed it, and they are advising their friends, peers, and competitors about the same problem. This is unmitigated good news.

-- walt (walt@lcs.k12.ne.us), September 30, 1999.

Walt -

Please try to understand. Being advised that a problem exists does not mean that that problem will be fixed. We have 92 days until the odometer flips. Setting up a testing environment takes time, forms signed in triplicate, careful scheduling. A year ago your response would have made sense, now its just silly. I'll say it again, a little louder:

**"If others don't complete similar testing, they will NOT be able to deliver FOOD to supermarket SHELVES."**

-- John Ainsworth (ainsje@cstone.net), September 30, 1999.

Yeah...butt everything's working properly NOW, therefore, it will work properly on 1.1.2000 -- we are keeping up with the bugs that occur NOW, therefore, we will keep up with them THEN...right?

wink wink nudge nudge

Didn't Hoff demand proof of a failed system just yesterday? Didn't he say there was NO EVIDENCE that anything would fail? Hmmm...lemme see...where is that thread...

-- Don Wegner (donfmwyo@earthlink.net), October 01, 1999.


Consider the timing of future repairs (if testing in other companies indicates any additional failures) when even Northern admits it has more work to do: <>

Twenty companies is a lot of work. All in one corporate group - now multiply by hundreds (thousands) of corporations.)

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Marietta, GA) (cook.r@csaatl.com), October 01, 1999.

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