Mutual Life claims victory over Y2K

After twenty years, a cool $15 million, countless changes in policies and procedures and lots of hard work, Mutual Life of Canada says it’s ready to say “ready.”

Year 2000 ready, that is. Early last month, the Waterloo, Ont.-based insurance and financial company broke from the corporate norm of cautious silence when dealing with Y2K by announcing that it had beaten the so-called millennium bug.

Although the news is sure to make Y2K-challenged IS managers green with envy, Brian Gill, Mutual Life’s vice-president of information services, remains humble. “I’m really confident that we covered the bases on this particular project,” he said.

So how does a company with more than 5,800 employees and 100 agencies and offices across Canada end up solving the year 2000 problem more than a year early?

“We planned to finish this early,” Gill said. “We wanted to make sure that we had a time frame that was very prudent and responsible from a business perspective. We’re in the business of selling our organization based on confidence.”

In fact, Mutual Life started converting two-digit dates to four digits in the late 1970s. But it wasn’t until 1996 that a project team solely dedicated to Y2K conversion was formed. They started with a detailed inventory, checking Mutual Life’s almost 7,000 desktops