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1998-01-17 22:17:52


Yourdon Warns: It's Time for a Moratorium



Ed Yourdon, co-author of TIME BOMB 2000, writes that it is time for businesses to put a moratorium on all new IT projects in order to concentrate on y2k.

This is from COMPUTERWORLD (Jan. 11).

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Enterprisewide moratoriums on new IT development will be the big news this year. If your organization hasn't declared a moratorium yet, it probably should.

Why? Because of the increasing urgency of the year 2000 problem, which many organizations have avoided dealing with until it's almost too late. The governor of New York imposed a moratorium in September, and the governor of California did it in November. The secretary of the Air Force announced one last June, and by now it's spreading throughout the entire Defense Department and many other federal agencies, too. More importantly, it will hit the entire private sector of the economy as 1998 budgets are announced. . . .

Along with a moratorium on brand- new application development, this year will bring two other forms of moratorium: one on replacement of legacy systems with new technology versions of homegrown applications and another on replacing proprietary legacy systems with large, complex packages from vendors such as SAP, PeopleSoft and Baan. Both forms of replacement were viable business strategies from 1995 to 1997, when organizations were first awakening to the year 2000 problem, but the window of opportunity is now effectively closed. It takes a large organization at least two to three years to adopt, customize and install a large, vendor-supplied package; there isn't enough time left to ensure finishing that task.

Similarly, it may have made sense in 1995 or 1996 to launch an in-house proj-ect to replace an aging mainframe system with a new client/server or Web-based system. But given most organizations' dismal track record for finishing development projects on time, any manager who can spell the words "risk management" has to put a moratorium on that strategy, too. . . .

Bottom line: The IT moratorium is here, and it's real. The sad thing is that it's too late and too uncoordinated throughout the economy. It won't happen in Europe and Asia until next year. It won't eliminate the year 2000 problems associated with the supply chain, which, for most organizations, involve 1,000 to 3,000 separate companies. The moratorium will reduce the size and scope of the year 2000 problem in an organization, but when the Big Day arrives, the only surviving organizations will be those that have adopted a full-scale contingency plan. As Oscar Wilde wrote in The Picture of Dorian Gray, "The basis of optimism is sheer terror."


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