[Wikimedia-l] Mid-Year Financial Statements

ENWP Pine deyntestiss at hotmail.com
Sat Mar 16 04:45:10 UTC 2013


Thanks for the explanation. Let me ask about this issue from another

Is it much of a problem to have a requisition planned to fill early in the year 
with the possibility that it won't be filled until late in the year? The delay likely 
provides  some excess financial capacity but I don't know if the amount would be 
large enough to be significant. 

Also, similar one of your points, I wonder about the downsides to unrealistically 
precise predictions of when requisitions will be filled. I imagine that HR has unplanned 
turnover during the year that they are tasked to deal with, and demanding that they 
fill planned vacancies on a tight schedule might have the undesirable effect of limiting 
their flexibility to deal with unplanned vacancies as turnover happens.


> ------------------------------
> Date: Wed, 13 Mar 2013 00:58:12 -0700
> From: Erik Moeller <erik at wikimedia.org>
> To: Wikimedia Mailing List <wikimedia-l at lists.wikimedia.org>
> Subject: Re: [Wikimedia-l] Mid-Year Financial Statements
> Message-ID:
> 	<CAEg6ZHmd4DNtseC+-F+Z4yJApd2PBxrgo+pT27CLW1+-Hs8TBg at mail.gmail.com>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1
> On Tue, Mar 12, 2013 at 11:12 PM, ENWP Pine <deyntestiss at hotmail.com> wrote:
> > Hm, I guess a planning problem could be the root cause, but since Erik
> > seems to be saying that WMF has found a number of good candidates
> > outside of SF and yet the statement in the FAQ for the mid-year financials
> > said that the competition in the SF region for engineers is the reason for WMF
> > hiring being slower than planned
> On the tech side, we've filled 11 position in the first half of 12-13,
> and we'll have filled another 6 by end of March. I'm confident that
> we'll have filled at least about 20 positions by the end of the fiscal
> (some of those are replacements for people who've left rather than new
> positions). We've also made 9 of 10 planned conversions of temporary
> contractors.
> While the competition for local talent does affect our velocity to
> some extent, I actually don't think the problem is with hiring
> velocity per se (we're hiring at a pretty reasonable rate), but rather
> with being more data-driven in how we construct the estimates for the
> plan, both in terms of # of requisitions, and in terms of calculating
> the spend for the planned hires.
> In the 12-13 Plan (and that was also largely the process before),
> hiring managers were generally asked to fill in estimated start dates
> for each hire. These estimates, with a little buffer to correct for a
> known tendency to optimism, were then used as the basis for the
> financial input into the plan.
> That may sound reasonable, but it essentially turns the question of
> hiring velocity into guesswork at the level of the individual hiring
> manager. Moreover, it has had a weird incentivizing effect of
> budgeting hires as early as possible, because that would give hiring
> managers the runway to open a position early, and the buffer to fill
> any backlogged requisitions in the second half of the fiscal year. If
> you review the hiring plan on the last page of the 12-13 plan, you'll
> notice that almost all start dates are in the first half of the
> fiscal. That's risk mitigation -- but not a very good way to do it.
> For 13-14, I've asked for finance and HR to work with us in applying
> performance metrics based on our hiring velocity and attrition rate in
> 12-13 against the hiring plan for the purpose of estimating the actual
> dollar spend. I've applied those same metrics to our total req # ask,
> as well. Instead of attaching unrealistically precise timing to each
> position, we'll develop a hiring plan that's focused on an a rough
> overall prioritization of requisitions.
> So there's definitely potential for a more accurate estimation while
> moving away from false precision. That said, I always caution people
> about the delusions of planning. An exercise like the "Narrowing
> Focus" this year was both very necessary, but has also had a
> significant impact on the organization as a whole and many planned
> expenditures, for example. We need to retain the flexibility to make
> conscious decisions that deviate from the plan, and the realism to
> acknowledge uncertainty.
> On the second point, while we have a record to look back on, obviously
> we don't really know what our true hiring velocity and attrition rate
> are going to be for 2013-14, and we can reasonably expect to be off by
> a few positions. I would much rather acknowledge that explicitly in
> the plan than pretend that this uncertainty doesn't exist.
> For this reason, I've proposed to Sue an explicit stage-gating of a
> set of hires. By that I mean that we would unlock a set of
> requisitions (we're considering building out a new team that could be
> easily gated) only if specific hiring objectives are met by a given
> date, and we'd clearly flag the associated expenses as being
> stage-gated in this fashion. I don't know if Sue or the Board will
> accept that proposal, but it would give us the flexibility to make
> certain hires if we perform well against the base-level plan.
> Erik
> -- 
> Erik Möller
> VP of Engineering and Product Development, Wikimedia Foundation
> Support Free Knowledge: https://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Donate

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