You've done your compliance testing, filed the warranties from equipment suppliers, and reprogrammed the office coffee machine. You will soon find out if your preparations for Y2K have been successful, or whether your enterprise will be paralysed by some unforeseen circumstance as planes fall from the sky and the global economy nose-dives. So what should you be doing, both before and after the big date change, to eliminate risks of disaster?
PREPARE A CONTINGENCY PLAN. The first step is to identify the contingencies that you need to plan against; those that would bring your operations to a halt and put you out of business. That could be something as simple as the loss of telephone lines, or an inability to ship your product.
Then you need to plan the actions you can take in the event of failure; for example, carrying out a function manually instead of via your computer system. Distribute the plan to relevant personnel, and (ideally) put it to the test.
CHECK ALL YOUR LINKS. Robin Guenier, executive director of Taskforce 2000, says that for many companies that have tested their internal systems, the main risk comes from outside, especially if they have critical relationships with suppliers or customers in countries where preparation is not well advanced. 'Find out as much as you can about the situation in the relevant country, and if you're still not happy, go there,' he says.
BACK UP KEY DATA. Make soft and hard copies of all your important data before switching off for 1999. At least you'll have a full set of data to rebuild from if the worst happens.
START HOARDING. If there is a particularly vital component or material you simply can't do without, order extra supplies to be delivered before year-end. And look for alternative suppliers.
RE-SCHEDULE. Government agency Action 2000's Last Chance Guide advises: 'Where possible, carry out tasks such as invoicing and payroll before the holiday period. Do not plan to use this holiday for routine and inessential maintenance as you will need the time for checking out your systems for correct operation.'
TURN UP ON JANUARY 1. You need to know about any problems as early as possible. 'Check that your building security and fire systems and heating and ventilation are working,' says Will Swan of Action 2000. 'Check that your IT systems are functioning and that the correct date is displayed.'
DO A DUMMY RUN. Do a dry run of end-of-month procedures such as payroll, so that any problems are evident well before the end of January. Contact key suppliers and customers to satisfy yourself they are not encountering problems. And finally ...
DON'T FORGET, 2000 IS A LEAP YEAR. Guenier believes that many problems will only crop up later in the year. 'Problem' dates to look out for include 29th February 2000.
DO SAY: 'We shall be continually monitoring our systems and data throughout 2000 to ensure no unforeseen problems develop.'
DON'T SAY: 'The computer still switches on. No one's died of alcohol poisoning. What a load of fuss about nothing!'.