The National Computing Centre (NCC) has come to the assistance of small companies with a scheme which will enable to them to tackle Year 2000 problems head on.
The Business Assurance Scheme (BAS) will give SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises) practical advice based around NCC?s new diagnostic tool which can be supplied to business advisers, such as business links.
Awareness among the UK?s 1.8 million SMEs is high according to the head of marketing at NCC, Jeff Tate, ?but action is low.? Research has shown that 40 per cent of SMEs have not started preparing for Year 2000 and want support and guidance.
?With large companies - they have the budget but they are not as far as they think they are,? said Tate. ?With SMEs there is not the same money, there is the will but there are no tools to give practical advice.?
Dr. John Perkins, director for membership at NCC, explained how the BAS worked: ?An SME will know it has a problem with Year 2000 but may not have the skills to identify and assess the extent of the problem. The BAS can do this through the platform made available by the business links. We have tailored a product to fit the channel available.
?In a couple of hours a consultant approved by the British Accreditation Bureau can sit with an SME and the SME can answer questions about the business on numbers of Pcs, embedded chip systems, etc. The consultant can then tell him the business?s exposure to the problem. He will be told his risk category and given a prioritised action plan to tackle the problem.?
The information is checked by the NCC against Data Dimension UK?s Ardes 2k Interactive Vendor Review service. The service consists of Year 2000 compliance information on over 14,000 products which are continually updated. The NCC has further developed the tool to allow the SME to record any questions it has. This is fed back to the NCC, where consultants will research and feedback answers.
?The route map ensures the best way forward,? Perkins said. ?It is handholding, but until now only huge tomes have been available to SMEs about Year 2000. They can?t be expected to wade through 75 pages of guff.?
Tate claimed that the diagnostic tool ?packs about three days consultancy into three hours.? He joked: ?It?s better than having to pay a consultant #300 a day to swan round your office.?
The NCC has recommended a maximum charge of #500, ?but that would be on a one to one basis,? said Tate. ?Several SMEs could club together to spread the cost but individual pricing will be left to the business link.?
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