Budget Bottlenecks

One of the bottlenecks that has been mentioned repeatedly by both deputies and organizers is the process around WC budgets. The biggest issues as I’ve heard them:

  • Only Cami/Josepha can create/share a new budget doc, deputies can’t.
  • Only Cami/Josepha have access to old budgets, deputies don’t and neither do new organizers unless the previous year organizer shared it to the new people.
  • Having to complete all financial planning (budget review/approval) before announcing a WC date slows things down and reduces the amount of time there is to recruit speakers, volunteers, sponsors, etc.

To address these issues, we’re going to change a few things.

First: Increased Deputy Access & Authority

  • Cami is collecting all the old budgets we have into a folder. All deputies will have access to this folder, so they can pull up previous year budgets as needed.
  • Deputies should go ahead and create and share budget docs using the existing templates, and then save the budget docs to the new folder once you’ve been added to it.
  • Deputies do not need to have their budget approvals rubber-stamped by Cami/Josepha/etc. If you have been told you can be responsible for budget review, you can make that call. If there is a budget issue with a WC that you’re not sure about, you can get a 2nd opinion from other deputies in the #outreach channel. If it’s a really big budget issue that all deputies should weigh in on/be aware of, go ahead and post about it to this blog to start a discussion that’s not time-zone dependent.

Second: Public Budgets for All!

  • We want to have alllllll the old budgets publicly available, both from here and from individual WC sites. However, before we can embed them, we need to do a scrub to make sure old budgets don’t contain protected info (like email addresses, phone numbers, etc). We’ll work out a system for deputies to start scrubbing asap so we can make things public sooner rather than later. Once we’ve scrubbed the backlog, all budget docs in the new folder should be public by default (publicly viewable, not editable, of course).

Third: Change the Rules
This one is a proposal to change the current policy, not a task list. This would be a change from the current policy that requires all budgets to be approved before a WC can be announced.

  • For a 1st time organizer in a city that hasn’t had a WC before, or that had a WC that didn’t do well sticking to the budget in the previous year, keep the current process and get a definite signoff on the budget, making sure the organizer (and key members of their team who touch money — budget wrangler, sponsor wrangler, etc) are informed and in a good place to pull off an event with a reasonable budget.
  • For a repeat organizer that did a good job in the previous year with the budget, or a new organizer in a city that had a WC with a good budget the previous year, remove the “approve budget” requirement to announce the event, and instead make “sign venue contract” the trigger milestone if the organizer agrees to stay within 10% of previous budget, or to ask for approval of expenses that would radically change the budget. Work out a system where deputies check in with WC organizers every week or two to see how things are going (previously called the mentor program), and include looking at the budget in those check-ins to catch such changes.

This basically boils down to: if there’s a budget from last year and they can keep costs about the same, don’t slow down announcing the event while collecting bids from caterers, etc. We’ll need to discuss this a bit more and come up with what we want the new policy to be officially.

Fourth: Better Budgets

  • We need a better budget template that has columns for estimated vs actual expenses so we can track how well WCs are sticking to their budgets (vs just overwriting numbers).

What do y’all think about these shifts and/or the policy change proposal? Weigh in in the comments!

cc @brandondove @kcristiano @karenalma @adityakane @camikaos @andreamiddleton @chanthaboune @mayukojpn @mario to weigh in on this, please. 🙂 Note: this is pinging existing WC deputies who’ve experienced the noted issues; not trying to exclude new deputies, just want to be sure to get input from the people who’ve been using the old processes.

#budgets, #wordcamps