The booklet is a step by step guide to focus businesses on the areas critical to their survival, whatever their size. Action 2000 is warning companies that this is the:
* Last chance for the 65,000 businesses with 10-249 employees who have not done enough to tackle the bug
* Last chance for the 500,000 businesses with 1-9 employees who have done little or nothing to tackle the bug
The new guide is aimed at helping all UK companies. From those that have not yet started to address the millennium bug, to businesses that are currently working on their programmes and including those who believe they have completed their bug preparations.
Don Cruickshank, Action 2000's chairman, said: 'This mailing will help mid-sized companies who have yet to address the bug issue. The last chance guide will offer them 'short cuts' that may help them minimise risk to their business.
'Those companies employing a maximum of nine staff may only be starting their bug preparations due to their short planning horizons. 'last chance' allows them to see at a glance the extent of their risk from the millennium bug. And for those who are on track or finished their programmes, it provides a final checklist to ensure they have covered everything.
'In view of Action 2000's recent announcements on software product compliance, we also want to encourage all companies to re-check their IT systems as well as the IT compliance statements they have received.'
With time rapidly running out, the guide is designed to be a concise and easy to use tool for businesses to assess risks, identify problems and take proactive action to beat the bug. The guide also gives practical advice on contingency planning, preparing for the millennium holiday period and other key calendar dates including February 29 2000.
Mr Cruickshank said: 'The 'wait and see' attitude of many businesses is a dangerous strategy and one that will lead to disaster.
'The millennium bug is a major threat to all businesses. No matter how thorough the preparations, no one is absolutely safe. That is why it is essential that the unexpected is taken into consideration and businesses have robust millennium contingency plans in place.
'This is the only effective safety net to ensure business continuity for those who have not considered the bug. For others, it will be the best protection to ensure that all the good work they have carried out does not go to waste.
'The guide is broken down into eight key sections, from IT and staffing issues to contingency planning. Each section provides a risk assessment gauge enabling the business manager to identify areas of high, low or medium risk depending on which sector that business operates in.
'It allows businesses to focus on those areas identified as crucial to their survival and skip those areas that are not relevant to them.
The last chance guide also provides:
- Practical 'what if scenarios' - providing realistic potential problems
- Advice on how to identify problems posed to your business
- Checklists ensuring any critical business functions have not been missed
- Legal Alert offers tips to managers on the legal pit falls of the millennium bug
- Contact check list giving useful information on where to go for further help
Mr Cruickshank continued: 'Action 2000 has a responsibility to ensure that every company in the UK is alerted to how to protect their business from risk of disruption from the bug. This is why we have taken the unprecedented step of mailing 1.3m named senior individuals from those companies employing between one and 249 staff.'
The new pack will be mailed to these companies throughout the UK during week commencing September 13, so therefore businesses have no need to phone the Action 2000 action line.
Mr Cruickshank added: 'For thousands of small businesses the millennium date change could be described as the final challenge of the 20th century. I would therefore urge businesses, whatever their state of readiness, to use the guide either as a lifeline or a safety net to ensure the odds are in their favour as the millennium approaches. The millennium bug is a unique and unprecedented threat for British business that they cannot afford to ignore.'
Action 2000 is the company set up by the government to help and advise private sector businesses on converting their awareness of the millennium bug into action. Its other remit is to build confidence that there will be no material disruption to essential services as a result of the bug. The millennium bug campaign was launched in January 1998, with an actionline 0845 601 2000 and a website www.bug2000.co.uk providing fact sheets on the measures to be taken and signposting further sources of information.
Last Chance Guide
The pack will be mailed to 1.3 million businesses employing one to 249 staff between 13-21 September.