Bisys Group Inc. has joined forces with Arthur Andersen to bring its financial institution customers up to year-2000 speed.
Bisys' aim is to deliver a customized testing program for each of the 300 clients of its TotalPlus data processing group, and it chose to ally with one of the big accounting firms.
"We're working with each bank because they each use different products and platforms that typically reside at the bank and go back to the host," said William Neville, Bisys TotalPlus president.
The large number and variety of those connections with its service bureau make testing for year-2000 compliance critical.
"Bisys has a responsibility to us, being the service provider," said Greg Brown, senior vice president at Liberty Federal Savings Bank, a $110 million-asset thrift in Enid, Okla.
"We are all dependent on it and if it's successful, then we can be successful," he said.
Bisys is trying to work "hand-in-hand" with its clients, added Mr. Brown, so that "everyone is on a level playing field and understands what is going on."
Bisys and its banks, like their counterparts elsewhere, are deep into preparations for dealing with the so-called millennium bug-the inability of certain computer programs to distinguish between the years 2000 and 1900.
The partnership of Bisys with Arthur Andersen was fitting, Mr. Neville said, because "we have a national client base and Arthur Andersen has a national Y2K practice," which Andersen calls year-2000 Migration Services.
"We think the partnership is unique and will fill a void that we see, based on feedback we are getting from regulators," Mr. Neville said.
The joint program will include a series of five seminars in eight cities.
During the series, banks are introduced to Arthur Andersen's software- based planning tools and approach to year-2000 compliance. A complete inventory is taken of each bank's information systems and the extent of year-2000 noncompliance is addressed. Then a bankwide strategy and plan are developed and refined.
"The seminars started last month and are going on until the end of the year," said Mr. Neville. "The banks need time to prepare between talks to do homework," he added.
Mr. Brown, who attended the first session, said it was a "groundbreaker." He thinks the rest of the series will be "very beneficial."
The next talks should cover the point of validation and contingency plans. "Hopefully it will all be worth it in the long run," he said.
The TotalPlus division of Little Falls, N.J.-based Bisys focuses on community banks. During the series, their progress will be monitored to include custom code conversion, new package selection, and overall systems integration.
Bankwide testing will begin in the fourth quarter. Bisys will offer clients a "processing environment" in which to test and certify their ability to successfully handle transactions.
All the host application coding is being offered free to TotalPlus clients, but Bisys is charging for the seminar series and test environment, with cost depending on the size of the client.