[Wikimedia-l] [Wikimedia Announcements] Update regarding WMF's reporting practices

Erik Moeller erik at wikimedia.org
Thu Nov 6 06:57:58 UTC 2014

Hi all --

Starting this month, WMF will be shifting its organization-wide
reports from a monthly to a quarterly cadence. This reflects our
growth as an organization, and is intended to make important
developments more visible internally and externally.

== Background ==

Shortly after Sue became WMF’s Executive Director, she started giving
updates to the Board of Trustees about her work. These reports were
compiled for accountability purposes, and not without some
trepidation, Sue started sharing them publicly in January 2008. [1]
The reports have grown in scope and depth alongside the organization.

Where we think we can do better is in the following areas:

- We've not defined the threshold for report-worthy work clearly
enough, so work that represents a few person hours’ effort could get
more space than a whole team’s work over the course of the quarter;

- We've not consistently mapped reporting against organizational priorities;

- We’re not presenting a strategic view on what we’re learning, where
we’re changing direction and why;

- We’re not helping users of the reports consistently discover
quarterly review minutes, slides and other materials related to a
specific area, in part due to the reports not being aligned with the
quarterly rhythm.

In addition, given the dependency on an increasing multitude of inputs
(from across an organization that had fewer than 20 staff when these
monthly reports were launched, and now has more than 200), the reports
have increasingly gotten backlogged, to the point that we’re just now
releasing the August report.

At the same time, under Lila the organization has shifted into a
recognizable quarterly rhythm. Priorities are defined quarterly, and
reviews are being introduced following the end of each quarter for all
significantly staffed projects.

== A New Reporting Process ==

It’s come time for us to revisit the model we use for reporting, to
clearly define the purpose/audience for these report, and to iterate
on the monthly format.

Purpose: The purpose of this report is accountability and learning
within the movement. The report is not a storytelling tool. Any
evaluation will be done with these objectives in mind.

Audience: Its audience is chiefly internal, including community
members, WMF staff, and interested donors/funders.

Format: Effective immediately, we are shifting to a quarterly
reporting format. This will impact our reporting, and the October
through December reporting period, in the following ways:

- Instead of three monthly reports for October, November, and
December, we will publish our first quarterly report in February 2015.

- We are reviewing the key organization-wide metrics and will improve
the selection and presentation of numbers at the top level of the
quarterly report.

- We will closely align quarterly reports with quarterly reviews, and
re-use high level findings from the quarterly reviews, while referring
to the slide decks and minutes from the reviews for details.

- We will aim to provide high-level synthesis and lessons learned, as
well as strategy updates, through this format as well.

Many of the more granular updates in the monthly report will no longer
be reported.

As above, the deadline for publication of the first report, covering
October 1 - December 31, is February 15. For this first report, we are
being conservative with regard to the deadline, as we will have our
resources directed at our staff all-hands and developer summit in

Tilman and I will begin creating a draft structure for this new report
in coming weeks, and will do so in public from the get-go. We will
also rethink the “Wikimedia Highlights” alongside other multilingual
movements news formats, likely detaching them from reporting

Out of scope of this effort for now:

- Providing more timely updates on initiatives with high user impact.
We’re continuing to provide updates to Tech News [2] and similar
newsletters, but we’re not currently doing a major overhaul here.

- Replacing the monthly engineering report and its inputs, which also
serve as a project status dashboard. [3]

We are of course discussing how to improve on those mechanisms, and
feedback is welcome.

Let me know if you have any immediate questions or thoughts.



[1] https://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikimedia-l/2008-January/084883.html
[2] https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Tech/News
[3] https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Engineering/Dashboard
Erik Möller
VP of Product & Strategy, Wikimedia Foundation

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