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Summary and Comments

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Category: 

Programmers'_Views

Date: 

1997-07-16 00:00:00

Subject: 

A Programmer Describes Why His Company Won't Make It

Comment: 

This anonymous programmer-manager describes why he thinks his company may not make its deadline. Yet this is a company that had a plan and launched an actual repair.

* * * * * * * * *

I have been a corporate programmer since 1987 and have designed and programmed every system I have worked on as y2k compliant since 1991. My company has seven major divisions that each have historically had their own IS departments, choice of computing hardware, and largely homegrown and thus proprietary software business solutions. The division I work for is 90% y2k compliant. This does *not* account for exchange of data with vendors and customers via electronic data interchange (EDI) nor at least one piece of packaged software.

The corporation brought one of the big three accounting firms in last year to analyze our business needs. They proposed that we purchase packaged software for a computing platform that three divisions already were using, design some customization to the packages, pay the vendors to do the customization, write interfaces between the packages ourselves, and implement a total replacement of our disparate systems two divisions at a time, every six months, beginning in mid-1998.

The customization design effort was to begin Feb. 1997 but did not really get off the ground until May. Since then, it has proceeded quite slowly. The design is to be complete by the end of Aug. 1997.

The actual customization coding effort is supposed to take only eight months. I'm not sure when testing is supposed to occur but am glad to see that you have picked up on the fact that testing should take 40-120% of the time it takes to code, though there can be a fair amount of overlap between the two phases.

For the last six months, I have been shaking my head most every day attempting to become convinced that the project is do-able and do-able within the set deadlines. I have not yet been able to do so. The complexities of getting seven divisions to modify their internal procedures to meet some form of commonality, the fact that much of the accounting firms staff has not worked on any project this large in scope, and the extremely compressed schedule continues to convince me that y2k will be here before the completion of this project.


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