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1998-04-30 21:47:19


Forgotten 13,000 End-User Applications in One Company



So, you get your company's mainframe systems compliant. You get all your vendor-supplied software compliant. You check your embedded chips, and replace the bad ones. You're compliant, right?

Sorry. Nice try, but no cigar.

You forgot about all those undocumented PC applications that interface with your compliant systems. One company was horrified to find 13,000 of these applications, and this may have been only 80% of them.

This is from THE AUSTRALIAN (April 28).

* * * * * * * *

One major area of risk is applications developed by end-users.

Mission-critical applications developed by information systems (IS) groups are usually well documented and follow basic applications development standards.

But end-user-developed applications are mostly generated without any guidance from IS, and have rarely been documented or tested.

Although often of low quality, these applications are commonly used by all levels of staff to make decisions about how the business will be run on a daily basis.

These end-user-developed applications have generally been considered unimportant in Y2K conversions by IS organisations, but they are coming to recognise their organisations' dependence on them, and the level of business exposure they bring if they are not Y2K-compliant.

In the course of a recent Y2K planning exercise, one Gartner Group client with about 2200 end-users was shocked to find that there were 13,000 end-user-developed applications within the organisation.

And they believed this number actually represented only 80 per cent of the total. Further examination revealed a sorry story. Many of these applications were developed during a period when the IS organisation had abdicated responsibility for end-user support to the business units.

Also, many of the applications duplicated applications in other business units.

Hardly any of them had any documentation whatsoever.

Most of the applications had been developed with a range of popular end-user development tools.

At least they had once been popular. Many of these tools are hardly used any more, making debugging extremely difficult.

And needless to say, all this software cost an enormous amount of money. . . .

The IS group's role was to provide guidance on which versions of end-user software were not Y2K-compliant and which new versions the business units should purchase.

It also replaced all of its desktop hardware, at some expense. The lesson is that any Y2K project must include end-user-developed applications in its scope of work, because it is very likely that these applications will not be Y2K-compliant. . . .

Ultimately, end-users must be responsible for the systems they develop, but problems can be minimised with some degree of co-ordination.


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