Apegga1c.gif (2007 bytes) The PEGG
March, 1999
Page 17 Forum Offers Y2K Tips
Relating Stories:

Criticial Y2K Testing Dates

Y2K Okay? Now the Other Dates

By Nordahl Flakstad

Big or small, organizations should take precautions in dealing with the millennium bug, panelists told a Y2K Information Forum organized by the APEGGA Edmonton District on Jan. 28.

Mike Palamarek, P.Eng., of Cybertech Automation Inc. in Edmonton, who works with programmable logic, including embedded systems, and who has been involved in Y2K consulting, said individual problems may be relatively easy to handle. But, he suggested, the challenge may come if there is a "domino" effect from several Y2K problems piling upon each other.

Speaking to the audience of about 50, Mr. Palamarek suggested a five-point Y2K action plan focused on:

1) Standards — determining standards of what is considered Y2K compliant — much of the information is available from industry-specific sources and websites.

2) Audits — of software and hardware currently in place and whether customers and suppliers are also compliant. This includes recording the location of equipment, its purpose, the manufacturer, serial and model number, and how it links with other equipment, as well as how it is calibrated.

3) Risk Analysis — to identify and priorize organizations’ "mission critical" areas that could affect finances; health, safety and personal injury, the environment and/or corporate image.

(Important sources that can help in determining Y2K compliance are vendors and suppliers, and Internet-based industry databases pooling test results.) Based on data gathered and one’s priorities, a remediation plan involving upgrading or replacement can be started.

4) Testing — "Test everything whether the manufacturer says it’s compliant or not," Mr. Palamarek recommended. He cautioned that some manufacturers use the term "Y2K ready" which may not mean Y2K compliant. "It may be ready for a function but it may not ready for your function."

5) Documentation — of why something was or wasn’t tested — a process that is made easier if each piece of audited equipment is given a number.

Speaking from the perspective of a large organization, Azamul Kahrim, P.Eng., a senior associate with Syncrude Canada Limited in Fort McMurray, explained steps taken by his company, particularly during the past two years, to ensure Y2K compliance inside and outside the corporation.

Syncrude views Y2K as a technically driven "business issue" with potentially large-scale corporate impact. The company is determined to demonstrate due diligence and the issue has received resources and attention (through regular reporting) from the highest corporate levels.

Syncrude has carried out an extensive process of hazard and risk identification (i.e. How big is the problem and how could suppliers affect the company in terms of shutdowns, injuries, environmental impact and/or liability?)

Flagged Y2K matters have been analysed and listed from "five" — potential for immediate and total business disruption—to "one" — no impact. (The company uses a similar scale to categorize non-Y2K risks). A list of 1,459 potential Y2K issues was whittled down to 554 likely to affect the operation in some way — with, for instance, a gas supply disruption ranked high.

Mr. Kahrim said affected areas have been fixed through equipment retirement, replacement or repair. Parallelling these efforts is contingency planning to let the company respond with the whats, whens, hows and whos needed if confronted with the question "If something goes wrong, what do we do now?"


For example, Syncrude has contingency plans to prepare two copies of the pay cheques for the period just prior to Jan. 1, 2,000. This will allow employees to be paid in January 2000 if there is a problem. Other contingency plans involve reducing energy demands around Jan 1, 2000 and limiting employee leave.

Syncrude contacted some 2,500 suppliers in 1997 to inquire about Y2K compliance. The company also has identified some 50,000 supply items, 700 of them crucial to Syncrude’s operation. These items were, in turn, supplied by 54 suppliers. In addition to ensuring such supplies are in stock, Syncrude has visited major suppliers to monitor Y2K compliance.

"If it’s that important, you’ve got to be in there at the front line," Mr. Kahrim explained.

Lawyer Ted D. Bosse, of Ogilvie and Company in Edmonton, noted some special Y2K legal "exposure" faced by design professionals or contractors who already have handed over a facility to a customer. A difficulty arises from such professionals or contractors no longer having control over the facility. Though there are no Y2K legal precedents, it appears legal liability may be mitigated if a client is warned of potential problems. While it may have been difficult a few years ago to know about the potential Y2K

His services to his profession were recognized with an APEGGA Special Award in 1973 and he was given the Association’s highest recognition, the Centennial Award, in 1978.

He received an honorary doctorate from the University of Alberta.

He undertook a number of international advisory assignments, including as a member of a Canadian delegation which studied the International Technical Institute of Turin, Italy, and headed a Canadian team which advised Zambia on its technical institute.

He was a member of the board of the Alberta Housing Corp. and the Alberta Home Mortgage Corp., and a member of the University of Alberta Senate.

Mr. Saunder’s immediate survivors include his wife, Connie; son, Harry; daughter, Connie Janet, and sister Ellenor Henshaw. He was predeceased by a son, William.


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