The Year 2000 Paper Trail

by Warren S. Reid


If, in fact, a company finds itself in court several years hence defending its Year 2000 efforts, what documents might prove helpful (or harmful) in establishing guilt, facts, negligence, reasonable behavior, etc.?


While defendant companies should be careful with paper trails that can later come back to haunt them, they must keep a complete and reasonable contemporaneous record if they are to have any chance to survive a lawsuit. While the list below represents a minimal list (and is subject to change), the documents must include the true facts that help prove due diligence, informed decision-making, taking reasonable actions, and more. Implement an appropriate document retention policy. Employ appropriate Attorney-Client and work-product privileges when/where applicable. Be particularly careful to not allow destructive project e-mails.


Document/store re. Year 2000:


1. All documents/minutes covering Year 2000 Board discussions and decisions and their impact; same for Technology Steering Committee.

2. All plans for quality control and quality assurance covering the year 2000 efforts

3. All regulatory and mandated disclosures

4. Letters and responses from/to customers re "readiness of systems"

5. A copy (and updates) to your remediation plan and related deliverables (for each phase): (i.e., Awareness; Assessment; Renovation; Validation; Implementation)

6. Reports, assumptions, problems and problem resolutions for each phase of the plan

7. Staff hiring, withdrawals, etc., and staffing retention plans; staff evaluations

8. All system triage rules, processes and results (including the plan to turn off "low-triaged" systems)

9. Review and actions relating to current and available insurance and adequacy of coverage

10. All postings on the internet re status of your company's efforts

11. A contingency plan if remediation fails/late including events that trigger parts of the plan. Document any executed contingencies tasks and resulting impact.

12. Models (Function Point, COCOMO II, etc.) and industry metrics used to estimate/re-estimate the job

13. All critical path analyses

14. All Risk Mitigation efforts

15. Any evidence of Independent Verification and Validation (IV & V)

16. All project status reports, issues resolutions and estimates to complete. Status reports should be reliable and not paint a rosier than actual picture and include: work plan for period; work completed during period; problems and solutions implemented; work plan for next period; summary of good and bad news and related actions taken

17. Use of special tools to enhance remediation productivity and quality; documentation supporting tools selection and evaluation

18. Test documentation including: test strategy; test scenarios, test cases and expected results; actual test data/results; problem logs, severity codes, fixes; defect tracking/analysis tools, complexity analyzers, test path coverage analyzers, test execution monitors are also helpful in proving this area; signoff and proofs that systems are adequately re-tested before going into production

19. Proof of testing and remediation at all levels of testing including: unit; integration; systems; acceptance; recovery and restart; special interface testing

20. Any letters/reports regarding certification and use of experts, or outside consultants

21. Documents showing specialized training delivered

22. Deferral of new s stems implementation to correct current systems

23. Advancing implementation of new systems to eliminate current systems

24. A mandatory Millennium Compliance Provision for use in all new/renegotiated contracts.

25. Any questionnaires and evaluation methods used to select: project managers; consultants/experts; service providers; vendors; staff, outsourcers; alternative suppliers, etc.

26. Analyses and plans to address potential embedded systems problems you company faces

27. Software escrow agreements

28. Document retention standards

29. Internal and external audit reports, and third party reports (including expert reports) concerning Year 2000 status at your company

30. Employment contracts for key Year 2000 personnel


© Warren S. Reid 1998. All Rights Reserved.