Wikimedia monthly activities meetings/Quarterly reviews/Finance & Administration/January 2015

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The following are notes from the Quarterly Review meeting with the Wikimedia Foundation's Finance and Administration team, January 6, 2015, 2PM - 3:30PM PST.

Present:

  • Doreen
  • Garfield
  • Lynette
  • Erik
  • Tony
  • Lila
  • Guillaume (taking notes)

Please keep in mind that these minutes are mostly a rough transcript of what was said at the meeting, rather than a source of authoritative information. Consider referring to the presentation slides, blog posts, press releases and other official material.

Introduction[edit]

Garfield: 3 formal presentations + narrative around OIT

  • Admin
  • Finance
  • "CFA version of the world"


Administration[edit]

slide 1

[slide 1]

slide 2

[slide 2]

slide 3

[slide 3]

  • Lynette: There are six purpose areas for the team,and everything the team does should relate to those six goals.
slide 4

[slide 4]

  • Lynette: Numbers indicate the number of support staff for each department. "Core services" staff (travel, facilities, front office) serve the whole organization.
  • Lynette: There were 12 support staff 2 years ago, and we're still at 12 staff today
slide 5

[slide 5]

  • Lynette: The hires were backfill positions except for one. The team is fully staffed. Open reqs are going to be transitioned soon.
slide 6

[slide 6]

slide 7

[slide 7]

  • Lynette: Here we're looking back at the annual plan, and relating the annual priorities to the original six purposes.
slide 8

[slide 8]

slide 9

[slide 9]

  • Lynette: These are the four major objectives the team is working on this quarter.
  • Lila: For the next quarterly review, please add specific measures of success.

Lynette: We're on track for most of those goals. Some are a bit delayed.

  • Lynette: calls attention to the emerging engineering support team and its model.
    • Discussion about the number of admin staff in engineering/product
    • Discussion about the model for the organization of that team
slide 10

[slide 10]

slide 11

[slide 11]

  • Lila: Determine the relevant metrics for the next review.
slide 12

[slide 12]

slide 13

[slide 13]

slide 14

[slide 14]

slide 15

[slide 15]

slide 16

[slide 16]

slide 17

[slide 17]

  • Erik: interested in the efficiency/paperless topic
  • Erik, Garfield, Tony: talk about the business operations improvements project, including electronic contract signature, etc.
  • Lila: recommends to simplify & standardize as much as possible; use surveys to validate with the users?
  • Garfield: How receptive is the organization to learning new systems?
  • Erik: We should find user-centric processes & tools.
  • Garfield: There are also broken feedback loops. It would be useful to consolidate feedback more regularly.
  • Erik: As another piece of feedback: People are very happy with the travel support.
  • Erik: expresses doubts about the officewiki project.
  • Lila: suggests to survey staff to ask what Admin could do to make their life easier. Ask them to highlight the most critical item for them.
  • Lila: asks the team what the biggest priority is:
    • unanimous response: 5th floor

Finance[edit]

Garfield takes over at that point.

slide 1

[slide 1]

slide 2

[slide 2]

slide 3

[slide 3]

slide 4

[slide 4]

slide 5

[slide 5]

slide 6

[slide 6]

  • Garfield: Finance is a 4-person team.
  • Tony: There has been no turnover in 1.5 year, which means better communication in the team and continuity.
slide 7

[slide 7]

  • Garfield: The team is trying to work more closely with local team to better track investments in data centers.
  • Lila: asks what the depreciation schedule is.
  • Tony: 3 years.
  • Lila: asks about warranty.
  • Tony: We expense them as incurred if easily identifiable.
  • Erik: 3-year warranty is included with the servers equipment.
  • Lila: asks what happens after that period.
  • Erik: We generally repurpose them into non-critical use, then decommission/donate [cf. https://wikitech.wikimedia.org/wiki/Server_Lifecycle].
  • Tony: We rotate them every 3 years in the annual budget planning process.
  • Garfield: explains how the team has sought tax exemptions for the server hardware in states where we have data centers.
  • Lila: Have we compared the cost of renting vs buying the servers?
  • Garfield: Last time we looked at it was two years ago.
  • Tony: We do save by being sales-tax exempted in Dallas & Ashburn.
  • Lila: asks about who handles the equipment.
  • Erik: It's a combination of smart hands and local contractors: 1 staff for Ashburn, 1 contractor for Texas, and even Mark himself sometimes for Amsterdam caching center.
slide 8

[slide 8]

slide 9

[slide 9]

  • Garfield: The current process is breaking apart. Process review and controls is a high priority at the moment. Reconciliation between invoicing & contracts takes a lot of the team's time, and should be moved more upstream in the process. Finance is working with Legal to make sure everything goes by the process and everything is properly documented.
  • Tony: we need a better enforcement system.
  • Lila: asks about approval levels.
  • Lynette: wonders about the volume of problematic contracts.
  • Tony: We need to figure out who's accountable for this. At the moment it falls down to Finance because they're the ones getting the invoices.
slide 10

[slide 10]

slide 11

[slide 11]

slide 12

[slide 12]

slide 13

[slide 13]

  • Lila: Why do we need to visit the data centers?
  • Garfield: Otherwise we're not in sync. Engineering & Finance use different tracking systems, and a site visit is needed for reconciliation.
slide 14

[slide 14]

slide 15

[slide 15]

CFA perspective[edit]

slide 1

[slide 1]

slide 2

[slide 2]

slide 3

[slide 3]

slide 4

[slide 4]

slide 5

[slide 5]

slide 6

[slide 6]

slide 7

[slide 7]

slide 8

[slide 8]

slide 9

[slide 9]

slide 10

[slide 10]

slide 11

[slide 11]

  • Lila: asks why the team chose Asana as project management platform.
  • Garfield: Phabricator doesn't have the feature set needed by Finance & HR for this (at the moment).
  • Discussion of the short-term & long-term reserves, and the interests of each.
slide 12

[slide 12]

slide 13

[slide 13]

slide 14

[slide 14]

slide 15

[slide 15]

slide 16

[slide 16]

  • Erik: asks about the paperless project / purchase order implementation.
  • Garfield: Finance is looking at the possibilities, and talking to Legal to see if one platform can meet the needs of both departments.
slide 17

[slide 17]

OIT[edit]

  • Garfield: The OIT team works mostly in reactive mode at the moment, and would like to move to a more proactive approach.
  • Lila: recommends to think about effectiveness and efficiency. Set goals for response times for critical issues (problem with account login, issue with laptop, etc.).
  • Erik: There needs to be better maintenance support, to make sure ongoing degradation (in conference setup for example) is addressed on time.

[Meeting wraps up.]