It also would seem that after all the publicity the Y2K threat has received, everyone would understand it and be prepared. If everyone were prepared, then none of us would need to further concern ourselves with the issue. Unfortunately, either through ignorance, denial or lack of resources many businesses are not addressing the issue in an appropriate fashion. By not taking the threat seriously, the future of their businesses and their ability to service customers is jeopardized.
EXTRA MEASURE OF CAUTION
The problem is simple. Early computers and programs were developed at a time when memory availability was limited and, therefore, required the use of maximum programming shorthand. One of the shortcuts used to conserve memory was to reference years by using only the last two digits (i.e. 99 for 1999). This was fine until we reached the end of the century.
Computers and machinery with embedded microchips now must begin to deal with the year 2000. Using the old capabilities a computer manipulating the year 2000 could read it as 1900, thus causing a multitude of problems. Potential results could be total program shut down, or at a minimum, erroneous information.
Perhaps you have heard the warnings, "Don't fly on December 31, 1999," or "Don't get caught in an elevator on December 31, 1999." Though we all have been assured by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that the air traffic system is safe, and I believe it, who would blame us for exercising an extra measure of caution? An extra measure of caution should apply to your business as well.
Not only must you be concerned about your own information-processing capabilities, but what about your customers and suppliers? We all are reliant on computer processed information that's not within our immediate control. What should you do to protect your business from becoming a victim of the Y2K bug? There are basic steps you can take to minimize your exposure to problems. These steps have already been taken at Levolor Home Fashions, a leader in Y2K compliance.
What steps have you taken?
ALMOST TOO LATE
To be ready to handle year 2000 you must have your computer system upgraded so it can properly determine the century of dates entered after 1999. Y2K-compliant computers must be able to calculate additions and subtractions between centuries, and function properly after the clock changes to 12:01 a.m. on January 1, 2000.
Levolor Home Fashions, and its parent company NewellRubbermaid, has initiated a comprehensive project designed to minimize and eliminate operational disruptions through six phases:
• First, recognize and establish the magnitude of the threat.
• Second, inventory hardware and software for the upgrade.
• Third, analyze the potential impact of the situation.
• Fourth, plan a systematic solution to insure minimal service interruption.
• Fifth, take necessary action to install upgrades.
• Sixth, allow time for adequate testing of system upgrades.
Simultaneous to the review of our internal resources, we contacted our key vendors, suppliers and customers to assess their year 2000 readiness. For those not already embarking on the necessary upgrades, we strongly encourage them to aggressively pursue upgrades. For vendors and suppliers who fail to satisfactorily demonstrate Y2K readiness, we then must determine alternative sources. Alternative sources assure us of a continuous flow of materials and supplies necessary for our business.
We at Levolor Home Fashions/ NewellRubbermaid are prepared and ready for the new millennium. Our systems have been tested and endorsed by the accounting firm of Arthur Anderson. We have passed the Y2K survival test administered by the National Retail Foundation. The effort has not been easy nor inexpensive, but necessary.
How about your business? You have a responsibility to your customers to be informed and to insure them your systems are ready. You need to be certain your vendors are in compliance.
If you are not already prepared it's almost too late! Get ready now and protect the future of your business.
David Roberts is president of Levolor Home Fashions, a Newell Co., 4110 Premier Dr., High Point, NC 27265; (910) 812-8181.