Clockmastering 101

Creating the Clock {Anagram: Ken Clog, Architect}

In order to be a good clockmaster, I need to know what’s on the clock. I need to know what promises we’ve made, what deadlines we have, and what milestones we need to hit.

That information is currently spread out in dozens of different places—in spreadsheets, docs, etherpads, bugzilla tickets, and miscellaneous project management software. There are grant timelines, social media schedules, campaign calendars, individual project timelines, email production calendars, marketing plans, and so on.

This is going to be fun!

Baby Steps {Anagram: Abs by Pets}

Right now I’m just focusing on one aspect of our work—the various places where we store communications-related calendars.

We’re currently keeping several different calendars updated:

  • The Engagement Calendar on StudioMoFo.org is a nice visualization, is public-facing, and lets visitors to the site know what’s currently on the Studio MoFo docket. I’d suggest we maintain it if it’s providing value to people. Does anyone have any evidence either way?
  • I’ve found that the no-longer-aptly-named “April-May-June” etherpad is quite useful in that it provides a little more context about the different projects. It also has a slightly lower barrier to entry because the StudioMoFo calendar is dynamically generated from a separate spreadsheet. But as much as I like it, I’m going to suggest we scrap it. The name itself suggests that we never intended to keep it around for long. I think we can safely retire it now. Any objections?
  • The “Engagement Calendar,” the first in a multi-sheet spreadsheet, might already be obsolete. I’m intuiting that it served as a great tool when the team was mapping out the arc of the year, probably sometime in January. It seems to be losing its value, though.
  • Perhaps more controversially, I’d also suggest we lose the Email Production Calendar tab of that same spreadsheet. It’s not that I don’t think it’s important to coordinate and plan our email strategy. In fact, it’s because I think it’s so critical that we coordinate email that I don’t want to depend on people remembering to update a spreadsheet. I’m wondering if the value from this spreadsheet could be gained another way. The Monday morning editorial meetings should prevent any collisions on a weekly basis. We might be able to get at the longer term planning at the monthly communications working meeting that Erica proposed. Thoughts on this?
  • Perhaps against my better judgement, I’m also replicating this information in one new place—the not-yet-ready-for-primetime Engagement Team Workbench. I’d like to eventually have the workbench serve as canon for the entire team’s deliverables. Because a wiki has a higher barrier to entry than an etherpad, it somehow feels more authoritative. I want people to trust that what’s on the calendar is accurate and current. I’d like to borrow from the Webmaker team’s playbook and update the workbench on a sprintly basis (however we define that) with our expected deliverables.
  • A sub-set of projects are also included in at least two different MoCo spreadsheets. I’ll take responsibility for maintaining those, since those seem more difficult to consolidate.
  • All of this information also lives in bugzilla, which is, of course, a non-negotiable. I would like to have a conversation about what type of work gets logged in tickets, and at what level. I’ll save that for another day.
  • There are also separate tools for managing Studio MoFo production deliverables and social media calendars, but since those systems are relatively independent, I’m not going to suggest any changes. (Though I’d love to find a way to eventually reduce the costs associated with keeping the same work updated in bugs and Asana and spreadsheets.)

I’ll be pushing these ideas at upcoming meetings, but I’d welcome any comments on this blog, too.

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