FEB 00] UNIVERSITY OF WARWICK PRESS RELEASE
Learned From Millennium Bug Projects Could Help Organisations To
Manage Future Change
Organisations that handled the
Millennium Bug well could use the same sort of strategies to make
other wide-ranging changes happen more smoothly, according to new
research published by Warwick Business School.
The researchers' conclusions, based on
an in-depth study of NatWest Bank Global Financial Markets' Y2K
experiences, bring good news for companies and public sector
organisations who spent millions checking their computer systems and
eliminating the Bug.
Jimmy C Huang, Sue Newell and Shan L
Pan identified three vital lessons from the study.
- First, a standardised procedure for
implementing change needs to be initiated and agreed. This
improves communication and eases the task of monitoring
performance across various functions. A standardised procedure
also ensures that knowledge gained within the organisation is
articulated and codified in the same way and it reduces the
complexity generated when different approaches are used.
- Second, the quality and skills of
people involved in the project team should be taken into account.
In addition to project management skills, team members need good
interpersonal skills and at least one or two need to be senior
people with a good knowledge of the organisation and broad
- Finally, communication needs to be
of high quality, but also frequent, especially where people are
working in different time zones. Frequent communication helps
people involved in the project not only to share knowledge, but
also to build personal relationships.
Mr Huang, a doctoral student at
Warwick, believes the lessons learned from Y2K could be applied not
only to other global IT projects but also to organisation-wide
initiatives such as business process re-engineering and cultural
"Most reviews of work on the
Millennium Bug focus on the technology, but the Y2K programme in
NatWest GFM was not simply a technological issue: it also posed a
social and emotional agenda.
"The project team had to
overcome cultural differences as well as technological barriers.
Organisations that use the lessons learnt during their Y2K projects
could really start to change into 'learning organisations' where
knowledge is valued and used to inform future developments."
Linda Davidson, Media Relations Manager WBS 024 76