When the job is done, when the code has been carefully modified when the cross checking is finally complete and the IT manager is sure there will be no adverse repercussions . . . What then?
Does post-Y2K mean that IT budgets will revert to former levels? Does it mean that the IS department retires back into the arcane world of acronyms that mystify much of the rest of the world, including the CEO? Was Y2K an isolated exercise? Can the project manager retire gracefully to an island paradise? Not likely!
Just as a football team knows it is only as good as the last match, so the IT professional cannot afford to rest on his laurels. IT executives do need to recognise what has been achieved and capitalise on the investment.
In some cases, in solving the Y2K problem organisations have laid the foundation for long-term benefit.
They have moved to new-generation software and hardware which will enable the organisation to meet internal and external customer requirements and they have put in place a long-term strategic IT plan.
In some cases this has meant a re-evaluation of the operation of the IT department in relation to the organisation's goals or the Y2K issue has been resolved by an organisation-wide migration to new platforms, also reducing the ongoing operating costs of IT.
In other cases the Y2K exercise has enabled the IT department to have a complete record of the organisation's IT infrastructure and provided the first comprehensive analysis of the ways IT is being used throughout the organisation. It has enabled some organisations to eliminate non-standard software applications.
The next step may well be to introduce and maintain a comprehensive systems management capability. It will be too late to plan for this on January 1, 2000.
By then the users within the organisations will almost certainly be off and running again, adding to the hardware and software they deem necessary to do their job.
Organisations around the world are seeking to ensure the IT department contributes positively to organisation growth and is more fully integrated into the total organisation.
The new goals of the IT department would then be carefully focused to enable the overall organisation to function as a well-oiled machine. If this is to be successfully accomplished, the investment made to overcome the Y2K problem will have become the foundation for the future.
Graham Penn is general manager of research for IDC Australia