Irene Dec

Fixing 154 billion lines of code

It was October 1995, and Irene Dec, then vice president of information systems at Prudential Insurance Company of America, was handed one of the most challenging projects of her 18-year career at the firm: Get all systems year 2000-compliant so that Jan. 1, 2000, would be a nonevent for the company's customers.

All systems. Everything. In every department in more than 1,400 locations and in every electronic relationship with 2,000 business partners throughout the world.

The laundry list of what had to become Y2k-compliant was huge: 1,649 applications (or 154 billion lines of code), 1,847 data feeds, 21 mainframes, 4,095 servers, 74,854 desktop PCs, 75 vendor software products and 202 models of voice and data communications equipment. The cost would be $230 million.

Dec, now vice president of international investments at Prudential, was responsible for coordinating all of it. She had to start the planning process from scratch and manage the risks involved in implementing it.

"Culturally, (a companywide project) was not something Prudential had ever done before," she says.

Faced with this challenge, Dec set up a database of Prudential's portfolio of information technology that needed to be made Y2k-compliant. She created a Y2k leadership team of 25 key staffers, each responsible for a different year 2000-related task. It met monthly at first, then weekly as Jan. 1 approached. On rollover weekend, the group held teleconferences every three hours.

And then, settled into Prudential's Y2k command center in Roseland, N.J., at 5 a.m. on Dec. 31, Dec saw the year 2000 dawn in country after country around the globe.

"I had one eye on the TV, watching the world (enter a new century), and another eye on the databases, watching Prudential turn (to the year) 2000," she says. And Prudential's systems worked.

"Irene did an outstanding job," says William Friel, corporate CIO at the insurer. "It was more than I could have hoped for."

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Copyright © 2000 IDG Communications, Inc.

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