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Small Business-Owner's Year 2000 Readiness Checklist

Electronics engineer Harlan Smith has created a checklist for small businesses whose only computers are personal computers. This is the majority of businesses in most places. Citizens who want to help prepare their communities for the Year 2000 can pass this questionnaire on to their local retailers and other small businesses. I have written new introductory material and edited some of Harlan Smith's introductory material to make his checklist into a handout. -- Tom Atlee

Small Business-Owner's Year 2000 Readiness Checklist

In the year 2000 -- and even before that -- there is a real danger that many computers (and also "embedded systems" -- microchips embedded in machinery) will fail to operate properly. This is because many of them were programmed to work with only two-digit dates: When 99 turns into 00, these computers will think that they've gone back to 1900 instead of 2000. This "Year 2000 Computer Bug" will cause problems. This situation, which is often referred to as Y2K (Y=year, 2K=2000), could cause problems for your business. Since your business and other businesses are part of a community, it could cause problems for the community, as well. The more businesses prepare themselves for the Year 2000, the less of this sort of problem will occur.

This Year 2000 Readiness Checklist will help you understand how prepared your business is for the Year 2000. It is made up of 14 statements. If you can answer YES to all of these statements, then you are truly prepared for the Year 2000. You can proudly tell this to your customers and to your community. This is good citizenship for a business, and it is a smart business investment. Over the coming months, the public will become increasingly concerned about this issue. Any business that has taken responsibility for its Year 2000 preparedness will not only gain a good reputation, but will avoid some real problems in the Year 2000.

If you answer NO to any of these questions, then you need to work on that area or risk having your business activities interrupted by Year 2000 computer failures. To educate yourself about what to do, visit the Small Business Administration web site at For "Countdown to Tomorrow" -- a free video aimed at businesses -- go to
You may also wish to take a look at the Y2K preparedness guide made in New Zealand, available at If you want to better understand the whole problem, check out

You may find that you can't deal with some areas confidently without actions being taken by other businesses or by the government. Realize that their inaction endangers your business and your community. Bring the situation to their attention. If a business doesn't act, take your business elsewhere. If you want to know what governments should do, consult and When you're ready to tell the government what they should do, go to

So here's the checklist. How many can you honestly answer YES to?

___ Myself and my employees are active in a local community preparedness group and we have all taken the minimum precautions to make sure the we will have water, food, necessary heat, etc., should delivery of these essentials be temporarily interrupted. (Needless to say, serious disruption of the lives of personnel will disrupt the business they work for.)

___ Similar precautions have been taken at my place of business.

___ All of our PCs have been tested for the year 2000 rollover and will function appropriately in year 2000 and beyond.

___ All of my PC software applications have been checked for Y2K readiness, including any staff generated spreadsheets or databases.

___ All embedded systems critical to the operation of my business and place of business have been tested for Y2K readiness.

___ All critical computer data will be backed up and stored at a place separate from my place of business.

___ All computer equipment will be turned off prior to rollover and restored to operation after the 2000 rollover in a methodical manner.

___ I have contacted all electric power, water, gas, sewage, food, heat, security, telecommunications providers and am convinced that they have robust Y2K remediation (fixing their Y2K computer bugs) and contingency planning underway and will be ready to support my employees at home and my place of business after 2000 rollover.

___ I have similarly contacted all my critical suppliers and am convinced that they are Y2K ready to provide critical supplies after rollover.

___ I have contacted all critical customers and am convinced that they are Y2K ready to continue as customers after year 2000 rollover.

___ The viability of my business does not rely on the viability of foreign suppliers or customers nor communication or transportation between my company and such.

___ All EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) interfaces with customers and suppliers (if any) have been remediated for Y2K readiness and tested.

___ In the event of communications interruption or short term business interruption for whatever cause, I will be available to assist customers via the following backup communications paths ....

___ A business continuity contingency plan has been prepared and contingency preparations are in process.

To see how one business
completed this questionnaire
click here.

Harlan Smith is a retired electronics engineer with some 36 years experience of working on complex radar systems in the military, General Electric and Texas Instruments.  Harlan has a systems engineering background and has written several articles on the year 2000 problem including an introduction to the embedded systems problem and a plan for achieving global Y2K readiness called "Synergistic Mitigation and Contingency Preparation." [Go to top of page]

To contact Harlan Smith, or for more information on his work:

Harlan Smith <>

Synergistic Mitigation & Contingency Preparation -- "Austere Infrastructure" (for printout)

Embedded Systems Remediation