The UK government?s Millennium taskforce has put a 30 billion pound price tag on fixing the Year 2000 systems problem and warned that it will take 300,000 IT staff - about equal to the total number in UK - to complete the job.
Taskforce 2000, headed by Robert Guenier, claims to have calculated rather than guestimated the cost of the Year 2000, but it acknowledges that the new figures are estimates of the number of companies likely to be affected by the Millennium.
In conjunction with PA Consulting Group, TaskForce 2000, conducted a survey early last year of 535 IT and business directors in public and private sector companies. It found that only 8% of participating organisations were conducting a Millennium audit. A second survey - conducted in November and published by PA last week - shows that figure has risen to only 9%.
The analysts at PA warn: ?Anticipated costs have risen, particularly in the private sector. [We] expect that as the problem is better understood, anticipated costs will continue to rise.
?The anticipated costs of achieving compliance have increased dramatically, but they are probably still understated. In March 1996, 91% of respondents were either unable to estimate how the Millennium problem would affect their organisation or could only provide a rough guess... For 80% still to be uncertain is not encouraging.? They add: ?In March 1996, most organisations (87%) thought it would cost under #500,000 to fix the problem. Only 13%... thought it would cost in excess of #500,000... Now, 69% believe it will cost more than #500,000 and within that group, 9% think it will cost #5 million to #10 million... and 10% believe it will cost over #10 million.?
All commentators agree that whatever the true cost, the problem is not being taken seriously by senior business managers. PA?s Gary Miles, author of a briefing paper derived from the survey, warned: ?The Millennium problem is a deceptively simple issue... and because of the simplicity of the problem, it easy to grossly underestimate the scale of action needed?
Indications are that 28% of senior managers are fully aware of the problem, up from 15% previously, and 20% of respondents were able to answer PA?s questions on the basis of an audit, more than double the earlier figure of 9%. 86% of organisations believe that their systems will be affected before the year 2000, up from 62%.
PA acknowledges that senior management awareness is improving, but maintains there is insufficient understanding. Overall awareness is around 93%, but what is described as full awareness, is very low, hovering around 28%.
The first step towards Millennium compliance is an audit that identifies systems likely to be affected and prioritises them in terms of business criticality. Some 65% of organisations have carried out a partial audit, but the full audit is still alarmingly low at 9%, and public sector organisations are more proactive than the commercial sector.
Miles says: ?This is a matter for serious concern... a lot has to be done before we can be confident that UK organisations are on course to overcome the problem.?
The report concludes that even where companies are taking the issue seriously and conducting audits, there seems to be a problem moving from audit to implementation. Organisations are glued into that initial audit phase, often spending more than 12 months on that, yet many are not implementation-ready by the end of the audit.
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