Major crises such as the so-called millennium bug  have the effect of raising the profile of the problem of supporting old systems. However, most organizations ignore the issue of their investment in production systems.
 Purists argue that the millennium bug is not a bug, but rather an adaptive maintenance issue. We agree with them.
Apart from raising the profile of support work, the production system portfolio model is vital in enabling life-cycle management of information systems. Without clear tracking and reporting of information system support costs, there is no way for effective cost “benefit approaches to be implemented.
For example, a new system estimated at $100,000 for development and $100,000 for support with $300,000 of benefits looks like a reasonable investment, until it is revealed that the actual ongoing support costs are heading toward $200,000, not the $100,000 originally estimated.
In addition, without accurate production system support data, many organizations are not effectively maintaining their development investment and, in many cases, are placing systems (i.e., their investment) at risk of early degradation.
The P Files Episode 16: The Bottom Feeder Lives
One of our favorite The X Files episodes is the one in which a sailor is turned into a really ugly worm-type creature. I like this episode because it reminds me of the start of my IT career. I did my basic IT training in 1969 and I had a wonderful year with lots of parties (and lots of the demon weed ”after all, I am not running for public office). My payback was that I failed the training course (with all my friends ). While the rest of the group were sent to development to play with new machines and languages, my bunch were punished for failing. We were sent to production support to maintain old systems. The exquisite paradox was that the systems I maintained were written in a language called FORTRAN and I had failed the FORTRAN exam. Oh, I was treated by my IT colleagues as a bottom-feeding, ugly worm-type creature. A lower life form began its struggle toward the light.
The P Files Team Comment
The real kicker here is that in those days, there were no help desks or call centers. If a system crashed, the business people came straight to see us (another part of the punishment ). Of course, I learned very quickly that IT was not about slick technology but people, the impact on them of poorly designed systems and about building good and open relationships with business people. Of course, we are not suggesting that you fail your training, are we?