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1998-04-29 14:10:53


BankBoston Prepares Contingency Plans



The Bank of Boston, with 60 million lines of code, is regarded as among the most advanced U.S. banks in its y2k preparations. It is not compliant. It is now preparing contingency plans.

This is from TECH WEB (April 6).

* * * * * * * *

Exactly 86 years ago next week, Capt. Edward Smith steered the RMS Titanic at full speed into iceberg-laden waters without enough lifeboats to carry the ship's 2,200 passengers.

So, how's your year 2000 effort going?

Unless your company is on an ice floe, you're probably getting a sinking feeling. Because even if you get all your applications fixed in time, you still can't be sure that the embedded microchips in your electronics will operate.

And even if you could be sure of all your own technology, it is estimated that about 57 percent of applications at U.S. companies will not be repaired before date problems begin to cause failures -- and some of those applications will belong to your suppliers.

This problem is too big to avoid. So while you're working to stop the deluge, it's also time to start counting the lifeboats. . .

Experts -- and a new class of software and services vendors -- said it's time to concede that year 2000-related failures will interrupt business sometime in the next two years, no matter what the company.

"It's not really possible to find everything that will break," said Jim Woodward, senior vice president of Cap Gemini America's TransMillennium Services. "What you really have to do is develop some kind of SWAT team that can rapidly deploy at the beginning of 1999 and 2000 to quickly fix the problems that crop up."

"We are building a 'command center' that will be the clearinghouse for date-related problems," said Steven McManus, communications manager at BankBoston. "We're asking questions like, 'What if the systems fail and the phones don't work? Will we use walkie-talkies?' We're thinking of putting lanterns in the Old North Church -- one if it works, two if it doesn't."

Planning: A Dire Need In Y2K Effort

Gallows humor aside, risk management and contingency planning are becoming a critical part of BankBoston's year 2000 effort. "We have backup systems and tapes, so we won't lose the data, but it's possible we might not have access to it for a while" when date problems hit, McManus said. "We have to determine if we will handle those functions manually, and how long we can afford to be without them." . . .

"It's a business continuity issue. There will be parts of the business that just don't operate," said Stan Goldman, president and CEO of Technology and Business Integrators, a consultancy that helps corporations assess business risks and the effectiveness of their year 2000 management efforts.

"The worst part is the whole thing was passed down from the CEO to the IT department, and a lot of IT managers have already told their bosses they've solved the problem" in the data center, Goldman said. "So it will be hard for them to go back to the CEO and admit, 'Oops, we forgot about things like embedded chips and the supply chain.' They could get fired.". . .

"You need to think it all out and have a plan for each scenario," List said. "What if the electricity goes out? What if there is a disruption in internal or external communications? What if users or customers get irrational data? You may have to hire clerks and go back to the manual review process of the 1930s." . . . Most companies recognize that year 2000-related failures are inevitable, but many do not have contingency plans in place.

In Cap Gemini's December survey, only 62 percent of respondents said they are developing such plans, and many of those were still in the earliest phases.


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