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1997-07-21 00:00:00


Testing Takes About 70% of a Project's Time


This posting by a company that does y2k repairs indicates that testing takes 70% of the typical y2k project's time. I have seen no estimate lower than 40%, e.g., the California White Paper's estimate (see "Government"). The White Paper was estimating money, however. The time factor may be more important for a large firm sitting on top of a lot of cash.

When you read a public relations handout from any organization that promises that its programmers will finish the repair by December, 1998, with plenty of time remaining for testing, find out the date when the organization began its y2k repair. See how many months it supposedly will take from the date the outfit began the repair to December 31, 1998. Then add 12 months: 1999. Multiply the total number of months from the beginning of the project to the end in late 1999 by 0.7. The resulting figure gives the number of months required for full testing. It had better be less than 12 months unless testing has gone on continuously throughout the repair process. Ask the representative to send you a letter answering this question: "Has your programming staff decided to defer most of the testing procedure until 1999?"

Does the organization have enough time to complete the testing process according to its own estimated date for the completion of the initial code repair? If not, you can regard the official estimate as little more than PR fluff for the uninformed.

Of course, there is always this question: Where will they get the spare mainframe capacity to run full-scale parallel testing?

The man who posted this information is far more optimistic than I am about the post-1999 world. But if your organization is facing a y2k crisis, he is someone you may want to contact.

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There is no single best source for the amount of time that each Year 2k activity will take. However, perhaps Tech-Beamers' findings may be helpful. Since experience has shown that testing appears to be running about 70% of the project's elapsed time, you should use that as a reasonableness test of your schedule. Because of the large amount of time needed for testing, we took considerable pains to break testing into a diciplined set of steps. In addition, based on Tech-Beamers research and experience we have created a project management template that expresses the duration for each of the 125 activities that we have identified for a Year 2k project. That template is part of the QwikStart Product along with an extensive user guide that contains advice on how to assess each of the phases.

If you are interested in finding out more about QwikStart, please contact me directly.

QwikStart contains, what we believe to be the most common elements for a Year 2000 Project Plan. The white paper "Year /2000 Project Management: A Testing Centric Approach" may be useful.

Stan Graham, Senior Managment Consultant, Tech-Beamers, Inc., email:; web:

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