New year 2000 promises to be the biggest celebration for, well, 2000 years, but spare a thought (and a lump of coal) for the industry's IT managers. Will they spend the night soberly watching over their networks, or are they confident enough to party with the rest of us?
Rory Bergin, IT manager, HTA

I'm going to be out of the country, at a party in Dublin. That takes care of the social side, and our IT support company, IMA, should be taking care of the IT side. I don't have a mobile, and I don't intend to get one either.

We'll leave most things running, and if they go down we won't worry about it until the Monday.

I think it's best to leave things on. Otherwise, if there's a problem you wouldn't actually know about it. We're mainly Mac-based, and Macs are less likely to have problems than PCs.

Nothing we or our clients depend on is vulnerable. The only possible problem is with peripheral or internal stuff that we can sort out after the holiday. But in any case, it has all been tested and diagnosed as millennium-compliant.

Matthew Kyte, systems and communications manager, AYH

I hope to be nowhere near work on millennium night and I'm pretty confident that everything will work. We've no old systems – we just have NT and Novell servers – and we've applied all the relevant [millennium compliance] patches.

I'm still in two minds whether to turn the power off or not. The biggest worry is fluctuations in the power supply, which could lead to problems if the system is on, even with uninterrupted power supply. The danger of switching off is that parts contract as they get cooler, which leads to failures when you try to switch on again. I might close all the processes down but leave the machines running. That way, I can close down all the databases in a controlled fashion and take an early back-up. Then if the machines do stop because of the date problem, at least we'll be able to see the problem.

Norman Mitchell, IT manager, Sheppard Robson

We're shutting down the system on the last working day; locking up and saying good-bye. I'll be out and about on the 31st, and I won't be worrying about it. I'm confident that it will all work when one or two of us come in on the second or third of January. We've done all the testing; I've got a 12 cm high pile of statements and schedules of tests for every bit of equipment. We've been asked by our insurers to keep duplicate copies of every bit of documentation.

The recommendation for most people is to switch everything off. The only worry is if the electricity companies have a problem, but you can't worry about things over which you have no control.

I hope to be nowhere near work on millennium night, and I’m pretty confident that everything will work

Matthew Kyte, Systems and Communications Manager, AYH

We've got ourselves in a position where we feel pretty confident.

Peter Thompson, head of IT, Kvaerner Construction

My personal plans are definitely to be celebrating on the 31st. It will be a family party, and the children will be allowed to stay up. Everyone's under orders to party on new year's eve and new year's day, then we'll have a skeleton staff of six in the next day, Sunday, to check everything's fine. On Monday, we'll have extra staff on call if we need them.

We've done thorough testing of the systems by running the clocks forward and we're entirely confident it will all roll over correctly. We'll leave the core network and the primary systems up.

If you close down and start up again, you run the risk of damaging the disks, or it could show up faulty batteries. We've felt in control since June or July. Last year, we identified a small number of bespoke applications that weren't going to come through. For instance, the system that manages the company cars would have fallen on its face.

But we were on the case last year and had it replaced by August.

Andy Scott, group IT director, WSP

A couple of people are scheduled to be in the office on new year's eve – although they'll leave before midnight – and again on new year's day. I won't be one of them, because I'm not really technical enough. But I'll have my mobile on and I expect to be called. If I don't hear everything's OK, I'll presume there's a problem.

On new year's day, we'll check all the systems in all 34 offices. We have a cascade telephone system to call out a team of people that can be contacted to address any problems. That includes our suppliers, such as BT, which runs our wide area network. And we'll have people in over both bank holidays even if the tests look OK.

We have a contingency plan for each item should it fail, but we're fairly confident that we won't have to implement any of them. On the 31st, we'll shut down key systems and all external access, such as e-mail and the Internet, then bring them up the next day. We've beefed up our virus protection, to pre-empt any attacks.

A couple of people are scheduled to be in the office on new year’s eve – although they’ll leave before midnight. I won’t be one of them

Andy Scott, group IT director, WSP

Lars Hesselgren, IT director, Kohn Pedersen Fox

I'm planning to be at a party. We'll probably turn off the system over new year then come in a day early to start up the system. We run mainly Windows 95, and there are some bugs in it that mean it ought to be closed down. Windows NT doesn't have that problem.

We usually close down the system over new year anyway; that is, we'll close the file servers down. We'll certainly leave the e-mail server up – that would be like turning off your telephone exchange. People will still want to send e-mails. We have virus protection, so we're not worried – why would there be more viruses about than usual anyway?

In construction, dates aren't particularly important. It's useful for filing, but we don't have time-dependent systems like banks or airlines.

Colin Darch, IT director, Balfour Beatty

I'm fairly confident it'll be all right on the night. We've been looking at compliance and testing and re-testing for some time.

Some of our operating companies have greater dependence on IT than others. A specific case is the rail business, where we're managing a huge amount of track and a 24-hour call centre. Several staff will be on duty there on millennium night, but for the rest it's just a case of starting back earlier, on the 2nd or 3rd.

You can't lose too much sleep worrying about your suppliers' compliance. How far back do you look? You have to have a degree of faith. IT systems have an inherent risk anyway. You could never get an insurer to underwrite every piece of code.

You could argue that everyone is running a 3-4% risk. We've told our insurer that the year 2000 is no more of a risk than construction risk, and probably a bit better understood.