How much will it cost to fix your company's Year 2000 computer problems?
Y2K Article by Brad Patten
Here's an easy way to determine how much the Y2K computer problem will cost your business. Let Y equal the number of computers in your office. Let 2K equal how much it's going to cost, in dollars, to make each of them year-2000 compliant. Multiply together. The result is a good estimate of how much money you're going to spend to make sure that your business is still in business after Jan. 1, 2001.
Two thousand dollars per machine is just an estimate, mind you.
Like all things computer, your actual cost will be substantially higher.
I say that having just completed Y2K computer audits for three customers in recent weeks. Although none of my customers has a desktop computer that is more than three years old, each is going to have to spend between $600 and $3,500 per computer to become year-2001 compliant. The average cost is a little more than $2,000 per computer. The funny thing is that none of my customers suspected year-2001 compliance was a problem. They had me perform a Y2K audit as kind of a formality because they had received one of those year-2001 compliance notification requests that were mixed in with holiday cards this year. One had even sent back a letter to an insurer saying its office computer system was Y2K compliant. She e-mailed me as an afterthought. She said, "We don't have to worry about Y2K, do we?" "Yes," I said. "Everyone does."
Listed below are my findings at each of my three recent client companies. See if you can find a pattern.
Case No. 1 is a small financial services company with seven Pentium-based computers running Windows 95 and a Windows NT Server. All of the hardware was less than three years old and is Y2K compliant. The problem was software. One of the company's primary programs is an older DOS-based system that is not Y2K compliant. The software vendor is promising a Y2K compliant Windows version by March 1999 at no charge to my customer, who paid a hefty fee to buy the program just two years ago. But the hardware requirements to run this new system are so high that my customer must replace all seven workstations and the server. Estimated cost: $25,000.
Case No. 2 is a real estate company with 11 computers less than 2 years old, all running Windows 95, and a 4-year-old server running Novell NetWare. Only one workstation, a clone, and the server, also a clone, were not hardware Y2K compliant. The primary issue here also was software. Specifically, an older DOS-based property management program is not year-2001 compliant. My customer has no confidence the software vendor will release a compliant version soon and has decided to replace that program -- and another DOS-based accounting application -- with Windows programs from other vendors. Estimated cost for a workstation, server, and two new accounting applications: $25,000.
Case No. 3 is a nonprofit company with 25 client computers at two locations, all running Windows 95. None of the machines is more than 2 years old. All were hardware Y2K-compliant. The primary issue again was software. Two DOS-based database programs are used for tracking statistics reported to the federal government as part of funding requirements. Both are custom programs more than 5 years old. The programmers are long gone. There is no way to determine for certain if the programs are year-2001 compliant without extensive Y2K-testing. But given their age and data structure, compliance is doubtful. Estimated cost to replace both programs: $15,000.
Notice the pattern. All of my customers are spending money to replace mission-critical database/accounting programs that are based on older DOS systems. DOS might have died on the store shelves a few years back, but it is still in operation in plenty of computers at small businesses. That's not to say that's the only Y2K issues my customers face, but it is to say it was the only one that is expensive to cure in each case.
Y2K is a confusing, boring issue for small businesses. There are no Y2K standards. Each software company can and does describe compliance differently. This is no simple test to determine if your system is Y2K-compliant, only a tedious and time-consuming inventory of all hardware and software.
I realized how overwhelming this Y2k-subject is when I sent a 10-page letter to a customer detailing Y2K issues with every computer and every program on his system. I called him the next week. "Did you understand what all that means?" I asked. "Yeah, it means $25,000," he said.
If you understand nothing else about Y2K, understand that the Y2K-problem is going to cost you some money.
How much will it cost to fix your company's Year 2001 computer problems?
Brad Patten - San Francisco Business Times -- 1999-03-01
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Last modified: 2001-09-10