Y2K - Whose Fault?

Marc

Hunkered Down for the Duration
Staff member
Admin
#1
Subject: Q: Y2K Issue in IT /Cottier
Date: Tue, 3 Nov 1998 09:22:08 -0600
From: ISO Standards Discussion <[email protected]>

From: Francis Cottier -<[email protected]>
Subject: Q: Y2K Issue in IT /Cottier

I find it interesting in applying some quality management principles and perspectives to the Y2K panic. Especially when so many organisations are relying so much on I.T. I would suggest that this Y2K situation is an indicator of some fundamental control issues associated with the use and deployment of I.T. for instance:

1) The situation was caused, apparently, by programmers who made their own decision regarding the date format. This sounds like allowing a riveter on the Titanic to select their own rivets! (Design & Process Control?)

2) It appears that no one seems to know the extent the problem within a specific organisation. We don't know where these rivets were used!(Traceability, Documentation etc?)

3) It seems a little late in the day to suddenly escalate this issue into the management area with its associated strategic and global implications. After all the end of the century is not a secret to anyone and maybe it should have been addressed much earlier. (Preventive and Corrective action?)

Any comments or opinions from the group?

Francis Cottier - [email protected]
Innovation Business Services
http://fox.nstn.ca/~cottier/ibs.html
Napanee, Ontario, Canada
 
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Marc

Hunkered Down for the Duration
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#2
From: Norm Ennis <[email protected]>
Subject: Re: Q: Y2K Issue in IT /Cottier/Ennis

Ref:
>>>I find it interesting in applying some quality management principles and perspectives to the Y2K panic. Especially when so many organizations are relying so much on I.T. I would suggest that this Y2K situation is an indicator of some fundamental control issues associated with the use and deployment of I.T. for instance:<<<<<

Interesting approach. However I see the Y2K issue slightly differently.

1960: Programmer / Designer (40 years ago) : "Hey, you know that in 40 years from now, this system will not be able to handle the year 2000 as a valid date."

Management: " Thats 35 years past its warrantee and 20 years past my retirement. Also the fix would add 15 percent to the cost of the machine. We cannot afford that. Anyway, by then the new machines will have that problem fixed."

1985 Programer / Designer: : "Hey, you know that in 15 years from now, this system will not be able to handle the year 2000 as a valid date."

Management: " Thats 14 years past its warrantee and 5 years past my retirement. Also the fix would add 5 percent to the cost of the machine. We cannot afford that. Anyway, by then the new machines will have that problem fixed."


1995

Programer / Designer: : "Hey, you know that in 5 years from now, this system will not be able to handle the year 2000 as a valid date."

Management: " Thats 4 years past its warrantee and I will be working somewhere else then. Also the fix would add 1 percent to the cost of the machine. We cannot afford that. Anyway, by then the new machines will have that problem fixed."

1998 December

MIS person: "I am telling you that half of your computers will not work correctly come Jan 2000. I know you saved 20 percent when you bought them but we will be spending the next 9 months trying to determine and fix the various problems that will be caused by this bug"

Its not an easy decision. When do you spend extra money and make a product that will last longer than the warrantee? But the buyer must also spend with open eyes. Just because its cheaper does not mean its always a better buy.

Just my humble 2 percent.

Norm Ennis.

Anyway, there is always tomorrow to fix those problems, right?
 
R

Roger Eastin

#3
Great snippos. I'll grant you that back in 1960, it would've been tough to sell management on the Y2K issue. However, in 1985 or, certainly 1995, the depth of the problem could've been seen. As Mr. Enis points out, though, our short term vision (even though our vision may be 15 years away) hurts us. (By 1985, the Y2K issue must have been huge!) It does go back to our inability to act on something if it doesn't look "cost effective". This is an age old problem...as the phrase goes "One thing you learn from history is that we don't learn from history.". We need management supported by a management system that can look long term and take action long before a Y2K problem occurs.
 

Kevin Mader

One of THE Original Covers!
Staff member
Admin
#4
Marc,

Good articles. Entertaining and accurate.

Roger,

I wonder if management realized the year 2000 issue in 1985? You are right to point out management's short-sightedness. You're probably right that they did know then, but the system did not allow them to plan that far ahead. When the management system is run by financiers, price pervails, quality and stabiity suffer in the longterm. After all, our investers are only interested in the short-term, right? We all won't live forever, so live for the moment and leave the problems for the next generation. Human procrastination. Good historical quote. Here's another: Those that do not learn from history are condemned to relive it.

To the topic; Whose fault? The system giveth, the system taketh away. We made the problem and we will fix it. Will we learn anything? I hope so.

What we need is a new purpose and management philosophy (my own projection here).

To the bottom line (financiers jargon); Who will pay? All of us.
 
R

Roger Eastin

#6
Pay we will...check out the federal news website on Y2K work and you'll see that the our government will spend at least 3.4 billion dollars on the problem. Now the government can throw around figures like that and think nothing of it, but think of what we could be doing with that money!!! And to think, that 3.4 billion dollars is only the tip of the iceberg....makes you wonder what other "Y2K"-type problems are out there that we are doing nothing about. Hopefully, we are getting smarter, although I want to say "NOT!"
 

Marc

Hunkered Down for the Duration
Staff member
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#7
I just KNEW back in the mid-70's I should have majored in computer science... I'd be a rich fella right now...
 

Marc

Hunkered Down for the Duration
Staff member
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#8
Kevin, I didn't realize you've been visiting here this long. Do you remember these old posts?
 

Marc

Hunkered Down for the Duration
Staff member
Admin
#10
Originally posted by Marc Smith
I just KNEW back in the mid-70's I should have majored in computer science... I'd be a rich fella right now...
Or.... Maybe not considering things as they now are.
 
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