Bug-free new year.

Small business – the sector most vulnerable to the threat of the millennium bug – survived the date change without any major problems. Despite ministerial warnings that Y2K remains a threat and fears that most of the government’s efforts were concentrated on larger firms, only 4% of small company finance directors said this week that their businesses had been affected. An emphatic 96% of more than 250 FDs of smaller companies said their business was unaffected by bug-related problems, according to this week’s Big Question conducted by Accountancy Age with Reed Accountancy Personnel. The fact that just 4% identified problems is all the more surprising given a Big Question in November which found less than two thirds of smaller firms were confident the bug had been beaten. This time FDs said a lot of time and money had been invested in making sure their systems were adequately prepared. Some also rubbished media reports which suggested the bug was overhyped and a waste of money. ‘I think the negative tack the press has taken is regrettable. This has been possibly the largest global project ever attempted and it is testament to its success that there have been so few reports of disasters,’ said Robert Dearing, FD of electronic components company Twickenham Plating Group. However, IT experts believe the full extent of the problem may not be fully understood until the end of the year. The GartnerGroup added that most problems will go unreported publicly because a large number of organisations are not required to publicly report year 2000 problems that are found and fixed internally. Some finance directors did admit to computer errors which had not been seen until this week. Ian Gordon, FD at Comet, said: ‘There were minor problems but we had planned well. I disagree with comments made in the press about Y2K planning now being a waste of money.’

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