Published on June 16, 2019
1. Top 10 Things To Do If You Want To Get Fired Over a WordPress Project Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Ride The Unemployment Check!
2. • My first talk! • Swiss Army Nerd • IT Manager for MVP Group • WordPress Survivor • Canine Enthusiast • Struggling Gamer Bill Bergmann
3. Don’t Worry About Taking Notes! • Any actual info is in the slides, and… • The slides are all available here: What are we going to cover? • The most common (or most gruesome) mistakes that can be made in and around a WP project. • The perspective of the Agency / Developer and the ‘Client’.
4. The Death Project: • HIPAA-Compliant e-commerce • 8,000 products • 160+ B2B clients • 100+ price levels per item, each set manually, not as a percentage discount. • Different access levels based on role. • Manual approval loops with auto-sent alerts • Automatic order restrictions- mins and maxes, minimum days between orders, etc. • Bids ranged from $6,000 to over $200,000.
5. #10: Don’t settle for ‘better late than never’ when you can get ‘better late, then never’!
6. #10: Don’t settle for ‘better late than never’ when you can get ‘better late, then never’! • If a project takes too long, it can easily be obsolete before it even launches. That is job security! • Projects need to be accomplishable. • There will always be things that are required before launch, but… • The lesson for developers: Manage expectations around the ‘worst case’ timeline- under promise and over-deliver. No one has ever complained (to my knowledge) about a project getting done a week early. • The lesson for Project Managers: Look at your scope before you start a project. What are the absolute, drop-dead most important things that need to be live at launch? CUT YOUR SCOPE DOWN TO THESE THINGS.
7. #9: Pick an agency who has you talk directly to their Senior Developer for every issue!
8. #9: Pick an agency who has you talk directly to their Senior Developer for every issue! • That means you're really important! • It actually means they don’t have a solid project management team. • It’s not bad to communicate directly with the developer, but it shouldn’t be the default. • PM Lesson: Make sure the team you’re working with is actually a team, and they have defined roles. • Dev Lesson: ‘Block’ for your developers so they don’t have to dive around every stray request that comes in from the client. “Can I get that icon in cornflower blue?” is not the e- mail you want a senior developer responding to.
9. #8: Your developer missing multiple deadlines is nothing to worry about!
10. #8: Your developer missing multiple deadlines is nothing to worry about! • That just means they’re really busy! • (It really means that they’re either bad or that they’re not working on your project.) • PM Lesson: This is a red flag. You need to communicate explicitly and immediately if a deadline is missed, and you need to push it up the chain on both sides of the aisle. • Dev Lesson: If there is a chance of a delay, you need to communicate that to the client before the deadline. Inside the team, you need to identify the reason. Don’t share the reason with the client, because that is an excuse. They call it a deadline for a reason.
11. #7: Have a very complex workflow, but take the Devs at their word that they understand all of the complexities that might not be immediately apparent.
12. #7: Have a very complex workflow, but take the Devs at their word that they understand all of the complexities that might not be immediately apparent. • As long as the heads are nodding up and down, that means they get it? • Do not feel bad about more fully questioning or explaining something- there is zero chance that that people will understand ‘too much’. • You will assume things about your workflow / needs that others will have no idea about. • Dev Lesson: If you have the slightest doubt about any piece of functionality, you had better ask somebody. If you spend 5 hours building a feature in the wrong direction, that’s 10 hours of time you’ve lost. • PM Lesson: Do you want to miss a deadline? Because not being 1000% clear on a piece of functionality is how you miss deadlines. You (or your team- see #x) knows something that isn’t in the initial workflow or scope document. You already know what assuming does right? (Don’t make me emphasize it with a Conduct Code violation.)
13. #6: Let your developer get away with radio silence for weeks at a time.
14. #6: Let your developer get away with radio silence for weeks at a time. • Don’t let that weekly milestone conference call get in the way of your developer working on someone else’s site! • Actually, do exactly that. Open and timely communication is the antibiotic that fights off a gangrenous relationship before it goes septic. • PM Lesson: An agency missing meetings (or not insisting they be scheduled) is a huge red flag. You might not be demanding facetime, but one of their clients are, and guess who they’re going to make sure they have something to show to? • Dev Lesson: Embrace the meeting. Use it to drive accountability- it’s a chance to shine. Don’t neglect the ‘quiet wheels’- they’re the ones that blow out at 75 on the freeway. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
15. #5: Don’t involve people with the most corporate knowledge.
16. #5: Don’t involve people with the most corporate knowledge. • If they don’t know WordPress, what can they contribute to the planning of a website? They only work with your customers every day! • It turns out that the people at the very bottom of the corporate ladder are often also the ones who often have the most interaction with your customers, and know their needs when it comes to a web site. • Dev Lesson: Make sure that you get a diversity of views / angles on the project during the discovery period. Don’t be scared to ask to talk to different people in an organization. • PM Lesson: Your website is your digital face to the world. Make sure to talk to the people that are your human faces to the world. Just like you shouldn’t assume that the developer knows everything about your workflows, don’t assume management knows everything either. The official process doesn’t account for day-to-day workarounds and pain points. Corporate knowledge extends far past management knowledge.
17. #4: Don’t worry about building a detailed RFQ / Scope / Workflow Document- it’s better to go with the flow!
18. #4: Don’t worry about building a detailed RFQ / Scope / Workflow Document- it’s better to go with the flow! • If you spell everything out and agree on a scope in advance, there’s no room for those awesome last-minute ideas that you come up with between bathtub karaoke sessions! • A lack of planning before signing a development deal will result in a substandard project, cost over-runs, or both. • PM Lessons: Having a poorly-built RFQ undermines your ability to find a quality agency. A lack of detail in your scope doc will result in an incomplete project or cost overruns. If you haven’t laid out the necessary workflows and actions on your site, how could a developer possibly build what you need? • Dev Lesson: A potential client that hasn’t invested thought and time in their project before seeking you out is not prepared to be a partner in a constructive relationship. If you haven’t invested thought and time in your project, how can you expect anyone else to?
19. #3: Pick the agency with the lowest bid, even if they explicitly tell you they lack the capability to complete the project.
20. #3: Pick the agency with the lowest bid, even if they explicitly tell you they lack the capability to complete the project. • If you save enough money, you’ll have plenty to pay the next team to fix the site! • Actually, the cost of redevelopment, both in dollars and time, can be catastrophic. • PM Lesson: You can be put in a tough spot if the decision-makers are not willing to spend at least the median cost of a project. Containing costs is important, but so is both getting a finished product, and a quality one at that- does the team you’re considering… Have the basic capabilities and demonstrated successes on similar projects? A staff size that provides enough redundancy to meet deadlines? • Dev Lesson: Run far and fast if a potential client tries to low-ball you. Your time and attention is valuable, and if a client respects your value, they will pay for it. One-half up front is not a problem if the client has budgeted for the project. Penny wise, pound foolish.
21. #2: Don’t have clear accountability in-house.
22. *’Boss’ is not used interchangeably with ‘Leader’ #2: Don’t have clear accountability in-house. • If no one knows who’s in charge of a thing, no one can get in trouble for that thing not getting done! • The previous bullet point would be true if bosses* were rational beings. • Without clear accountability, there are two possibilities: Your boss will blame the person who is worst at BS’ing. Your boss will play ‘blame lottery’. Do you feel lucky? • Dev / PM Lesson: Have a clear set of contacts for any specific issues: Project Lead Payables Client’s IT Any misc. people needed for the project. Document everything- do not allow for obfuscated responsibility, and shine light on it wherever you see it.
23. #1: Don’t set a budget!
24. #1: Don’t set a budget! • If you set a budget, you might have to spend money! • And if you don’t, it is impossible to ever have a firm foundation for your project. • PM Lessons: As the Project Manager, do you have a feel for what the project should cost? Does the scope inform the budget, or does the budget inform the scope? Do you have a firm budgetary commitment from the higher-ups? You can’t evaluate proposals if you don’t know what you can spend. • Dev Lessons: If your potential client does not have a firm budget, how can you evaluate whether or not the project can be completed? If they haven’t budgeted for the project, how are they going to pay you? Cash rules everything around me
25. Thank You! Here’s some dogs!