Mention risk analysis and you're not likely to get an enthusiastic reaction unless you've come up with a new technique for minimizing it. Unfortunately, not many software projects include risk management at all. Even the most rabid risk pundits don't claim that risk analysis will result in projects that are on time and on budget. But they do suggest that if ever there were a time to do risk analysis, it's now. Why? The impending Year 2000 crisis. According to Capers Jones, author, consultant and chairman of Software Productivity Research (SPR,, there are probably over two million Y2K problems that won't be fixed in the U.S. alone. Lloyd's of London predicts Y2K costs will ultimately top $1 trillion. And that may be conservative.

In a 1997 paper, "Fifty Questions a Chief Executive Should Ask About Software," Jones reminds management that "software and corporate executives may be held personally liable for some of the consequences of the Year 2000 problem unless prompt and energetic actions are taken to correct the problem. The Year 2000 problem may lead to lawsuits against corporate executives for violation of fiduciary duty and against software executives for professional malpractice."

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