If you've put off hiring a Y2K consultant to analyze your computer systems because you really can't afford it, it's time to consider other alternatives. You've only got seven months to get your systems in working order, and if your computers house anything beyond basic word processing documents, you're going to need to delve into your hard drive to make sure all your programs are Y2K-compliant.
The good news is there are a number of software solutions that can help. Don't expect miracles--these programs are designed to point out potential problems, but they won't necessarily solve them for you. In fact, once you've run a Y2K-analysis program, you'll still have a bit of work ahead of you: tracking down software updates, deleting old programs and files, viewing and changing dates within databases and spreadsheet files, and so on.
Ultimately, however, this work will be worth it when 01/01/00 rolls around and your system is still running smoothly, producing invoices, paychecks, schedules, financial statements, inventory orders, and, in general, keeping your business open and operational.
Cassandra Cavanah is a computer journalist who's made a homebased career of writing and consulting on tech-related issues.