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1997-06-21 00:00:00


Y2K Programmer Says That Managers Are Still in Denial


I received this letter from a programmer who works on a y2k project. I don't think that anything I could add to his remarks would make the message any more to the point. The problem is technical. The problem is management. The problem isn't being solved.

* * * * * * * * *

I am a Cobol programmer working on a Y2K project for a large technology company. I have often heard it said that "its not a technical problem, its a managerial problem." Let me be the first to say it *is* also a technical problem.

Almost daily, we come across some little glitch that we didn't think about and have to do a little bit of backtracking to account for it. I wouldn't think that this is unique to our project--i.e., the majority of estimates of manpower and time are too low, all over the USA and the world.

I've been in the business 11 years, not much by the standards of most of the readers of the c.s. y2k newsgroup, but I've been around long enough to know that very few software projects go as planned--one of the following: money, manpower, time needs to be increased to get the job done. With Y2K, only manpower and money can be increased, and with 930 days to go, that isn't happening. I scan the ads every Sunday and talk to 2-5 headhunters per week and they say their clients aren't going for the higher rates, even though they're not filling their positions.

The political structure of governments and businesses mitigate against this problem being addressed in a manner suitable to prevent disaster. As you have stated in your comments, no manager wants to tell *his* boss, no executive wants to tell stockholders, no holder of political office wants to tell his constituents for fear of causing a panic.

I am afraid of the future not just because of the economic impact, but of the social impact as well. I think that right now, June 1997, the best we can hope for is a serious economic reversal, many companies, large and small going under and more than a mere "correction" in the stock market, closer to a crash. The worst-case scenario is global collapse of all currencies, and with it, all divisions of labor and widespread civil disobediance and anarchy, with no infrastructural support for utilities like power, water and phones--i.e., the snuffing out of Western civilization. The corporate executives and politicians are still in denial. "How can it be?," they are saying. Something like Y2K isn't supposed to be possible in this wiz-bang technological age. I think some will be denying it to the end.

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