The UK euro changeover plan, announced in the House of Commons yesterday, gives IT directors at least some guide to the timetable for getting their systems ready for coping with the euro currency, said experts today.
Prime minister Tony Blair revealed the long awaited changeover plan yesterday, declining to fix firm dates but outlining a likely timetable and calling on businesses to start to invest in the conversion process. Up to now, numerous surveys of UK IT directors have shown that the euro is low on the priority list, especially compared to Y2K projects.
The changeover plan, described by Blair as, "not a change of policy, it's a change of gear," is a wake up call to UK software companies and British business as a whole, according to Computing Services & Software Association banking and finance group chair, Charles Brewer.
"Effectively, I don't think we're being told anything much new. What they are doing is being very pragmatic about it and taking a largely hands off approach. Industry is expected in large measure to look after itself and make its own preparations which is probably a sensible approach," he said.
He continued: "One of the things is there is a certain amount of discussion of costs. The periods being spoken are roughly similar to the system replacement cycles of many industries. In the three year period before joining a lot of people will replace a lot of their systems."
Peter Robertshaw, Emu roll out manager for SAP UK, which contributed to the changeover plan said: "We welcome the plan. It's the part that has been missing to get people to prepare. People should see this as a starting gun to begin work now."
Financial services software specialists Cincom Systems' marketing manager Emma Parker fears by unveiling the plan the government may be putting the cart before the horse. "It's all very well giving practical steps on how to make the changeover but it's more a matter of changing businessmen's minds about the euro," she said.
Cap Gemini's euro team senior manager, Amanda Sherwood, said: "It doesn't seem to be hugely different from the assumed timetable we've been working with our clients on."
Former Tory technology minister Ian Taylor welcomed the plan's call for euro preparation but warned: "It left an element of doubt as to whether that really is the government's position, which will irritate anyone making investment decisions."
However the CSSA's Brewer has some hopeful and useful advice for those struggling with euro dilemmas.
"People should be looking to reduce the costs by incorporating the euro into their new systems specs. Everybody who is writing software which has any financial component should be thinking very hard about how they're going to cater for this," said Brewer.
"Even if we were never to join, the cost of writing in the euro functionality now would be relatively low if you're doing something new - it will be worth taking the hit on that than having to go back and do something later," he noted.
To read a full analysis on the euro conversion race, click here
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