22 October 1999

10

WAYS TO AVOID BEING BITTEN BY THE BUG

Whether farm businesses

have had a very

comprehensive millennium

bug programme or are just

starting, there are 10 key

activities that every business

should now carry out

1Take hard and soft copies of key business data: In case of unforeseen problems, make sure you have printed and electronic copies of your most important computer information such as field and livestock records.

2Check and fix critical computer controlled equipment: Identify the computer, buildings and other equipment that is most crucial to the running of your business and check it will work correctly over the year-end date change period i.e. it will not fail as the year changes to 2000.

3 Check service contracts cover critical equipment: Make sure you understand the commitments to you in your service contracts. Do not assume you are covered! Also check for any insurance or legal issues.

4Ensure you can run manually if critical equipment fails: There are practical steps you can take to maintain your business if there was some unforeseen problem. What do you need to do now to prepare for such an eventuality?

5Reschedule business tasks: Where possible, carry out tasks such as invoicing and payroll before the holiday period. Do not plan to use this holiday for routine and unessential maintenance; you will need the time for checking out your systems for correct operation.

6 Identify contractual commitments and secure necessary supplies: Review the commitments your customers have on you and identify the essential supplies you will need to service those commitments.

7Ensure staff are available and trained to deal with emergencies: Plan what you will be doing over the date change period and ensure your staff know what they will need to do. Plan for the unforeseen as well as normal operations.

8 Avoid making changes to computer controlled equipment: Most companies are not now making any new changes to their computer systems or equipment so they have a stable environment for year end. This will also ensure that millennium bug problems are not introduced at the 11th hour.

9Communicate your plan to customers and suppliers: Tell your customers and suppliers what you are doing to counter the millennium bug. Make sure they are also checking their own systems.

10Check accuracy of financial data before taking key decisions: Having no major problems on Jan 1 does not necessarily mean you do not have a problem. Check that the data you are using to make decisions in 2000 has not been distorted by millennium bug problems.