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How one facility migrated into compliance’
Dwain Shaw, director of information services and year 2000 (Y2K) project director at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, says his organization was rooted in 1970’s technology as late as 1992. At that time, however, new staff were brought in to rebuild the campus information systems network. "As we went in to evaluate the need for new applications," he says, "the CEO had us make sure that any new applications installed were Y2K-compliant. So we started our preparations with our remediation back in 1995."
The facility’s original Y2K task force was formed in August 1995, and held its first meeting in September of that year. There were 18 people on the team, including representatives of every member of the president’s executive council.
A retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, Shaw says the easiest way to handle a project of this magnitude is to reduce it to its simplest terms and get on with it. "We went with a program that was as simple and logical as we could make it," he says. "We met once a month and gave our task force members a homework assignment at each meeting. We didn’t tell them how to do it, but only to get it done within 30 days." That technique worked well, and today the campus is at a "reasonable level of compliance," as he describes it.
"We made a giant leap forward," Shaw says. "We still have things to do, but we know what they are." In fact, today the Medical College of Georgia is held up as an example of a facility that has some of the most advanced computer architectures in the nation.
Because the Medical College of Georgia is a health sciences university, the Y2K task force has to deal with "the business side of the house, the academic side of the house, and the clinical side of the house," he says. To form his team, he selected subject matter experts from across the campus:
• The manager of the information systems help desk became responsible for getting all the personal computers compliant.
• The director of the physical plant was made responsible for seeing that building facilities were prepared.
• The director of public safety was put in charge of security issues.
• The chief of biomedical engineering has been working to get clinical devices ready.
Shaw says one of the first things they did was to declare all 1,700 of their 486-generation computers non-Y2K-compliant. "After all, they were using technology that was 10 to 12 years old," he says.
His advice: Take the challenge of the Y2K crisis as an opportunity to operationally migrate into compliance. "We migrated into compliance through our operational budget. We have not allowed anything to be funded solely on the basis of Y2K. Every upgrade had to have an operational reason for replacement."
One last bit of advice: "Take care of your staff. Make sure they are personally prepared," he says. "If they’re going to have to be there at midnight 12/31, make sure they are comfortable that their families are safe. Provide child care and places to sleep and eat."
Two adages that Shaw stresses are "Plan for success; prepare for failure," and "Please take know for an answer."