How to deal with WordPress management when a crisis hits your client’s page? [part 2/2]

How to optimize projects using processes and standards

WordPress management inspired by Lean Management

Time is precious. I cannot imagine WordPress management without making every second count. Especially, when our project hits a crisis. But let us start from the beginning, that is, with Lean Management. Lean management was developed on the basis of new tools and a new organization of work. It was implemented to Toyota for the first time, through the hands of Taiichi Ono.

Late 40s, Far East, Japan, and a small declining family company – Toyota. Why is it declining? The answer is simple: increased supply on the car market, and, simultaneously, high production costs. Doesn’t seem to be very serious, yet the brand, that now plays a major role in the world of entrepreneurship, nearly disappeared from the market.

It was then that the TPS (Thinking People System) was created.The system comes from The Toyota Way – the work rules and office culture which were developed and practiced at Toyota. Thanks to The Toyota Way, the company is one of the leading car brands, even up to now. For example, in 2016, the company was declared the most valuable automotive brand, and in 2017, it stood on the 1st place in sale in the entire world.

One of Toyota’s rules is a brave nod to the production workers. Toyota started paying attention to the employees’ suggestions for work improvement (the so called kaizen from Japanese kai – action and zen – good), and gave each person the right to discontinue production, in the case of noticing any irregularities in the assembly line manufacture.

How do we practice Toyota’s idea in our company?

Nowadays, Toyota’s system is a world-wide known collection of best practices used in optimization activities in all types of companies. We also introduced Toyota’s system to FIXMAKERS, which enables us to quickly and effectively solve problems connected to the clients’ websites.

Special processes and standards allow us to always implement a defined and optimal way of action and to omit unnecessary tasks. By adding continuous improvement – the mentioned above kaizen – we are able to constantly shorten the time of correcting errors on websites built on, for example, WordPress.

Let’s talk about the processes

At FIXMAKERS, we have developed a process of WordPress management that specifies all the project’s steps, including the correction of errors on the client’s website.

Source: own elaboration

Project process implemented at FIXMAKERS

Let me explain the outline above. From the moment a client contacts us, we run the project, paying attention to the following steps:

  1. Precise problem identification – classification
  2. Obtaining information necessary to fix the problem, for example: login details
  3. Assigning a front-end-developer to the task
  4. Setting a deadline and informing the client about it
  5. Making a backup copy
  6. Error correction
  7. Double testing
  8. Repeated backup
  9. Client’s approval

We include communication with the client at each process that is significant in error correction. The process outline establishes procedures we follow during the project. However, it may happen that at some step, you will have to specify the procedure more precisely. In this case, standards come to aid. But what is a standard?

Let’s talk about standards

A standard organizes and defines the workflow. It enables us to differentiate correct actions from those which deviate from the standard.

A standard shows the current best and most secure way to achieve action goals.

In this place, I’d like to quote Jack Welsh who, for 20 years, had run General Electric, a company founded by Thomas Edison. In his bestseller Winning, in the chapter on the Six Sigma system (also based on work standards), Welsh writes that the most important thing is to understand that:

change is bad

What Welsh has in mind are changes in everyday, repeatable tasks. Tasks that start turning into habits, not tasks that strictly hold on to a specified and optimal action pattern. The authors of Lean Management argue that people who do not follow standards, steal from the company because they generate costs, which they actually don’t have to generate.

Standards in practice

The whole team of WordPress developers at FIXMAKERS, responsible for correcting errors on the client’s website, follows WP coding standards that are continuously improved in order to eliminate losses (from Japanese muda, meaning loss). For example, the moment a client reports a problem, the Project Manager starts to work according with a special document. Here’s a fragment of this document:

Person Operation Procedures:

PM

1

Receive the Client’s ticket via the CRM system with the following data:

> website address

> WordPress admin panel address

> login and password to the WordPress admin panel

> description of the problem

> take a screenshot showing the problem (optional)

PM

2

Convert the ticket to a task, in order to fill it in with the Developer’s data

PM

3

Verify the data received from the Client (including the screenshot’s quality, if it’s attached) – if the data is incomplete/incorrect, contact the Client via CRM in order to clarify the data;

Save the data in the task’s description

PM

4

Check if the Client has reported one or more problems

PM

5

If there’s more than one problem to solve, inform the Client about this via the CRM panel

PM

6

Propose the Client to accumulate all tasks into one ticket

PM

7

Send the Client a link to the fv and to the payment for the grouped tasks – wait for the Client’s fv payment

PM

8

After the Client’s fv payment, proceed to the next task

PM

9

If the Client disagrees, he creates separate fixes for each problem or, ultimately, resigns

PM

10

Make sure that the problem does not concern another product of ours – e.g.: removing computer viruses or increasing the speed of the website’s functioning

Source: own elaboration

Procedures the Project Manager follows after registering the Client’s ticket in the CRM system.

These procedures seem to be obvious, however, they are:

  • Written down
  • In a specific order
  • Possible to be used immediately – without the necessity to be planned every time
  • Described, taking into account all possible situations and reactions

For example, if the Project Manager does not verify the data sent by the client and forwards it to the WordPress developer, the latter will come back with questions, generating a project loss (muda).

Let’s go even further – at first, the Project Manager has to define the number of problems the WordPress developers actually have to deal with. Thanks to this, he will be able to specify the conditions for cooperation with the client, and the developer will receive a clear list of fixes to make.

At FIXMAKERS, it is vital for us to eliminate unnecessary procedures. Thanks to this, we can make our mission come to lifebecause quickness is one of its elements.

The Japanese say that there are only 3 reasons of failures:

  1. Lack of standard
  2. Incorrect standard
  3. Unfollowed standard

That’s why we pay particular attention to verifying correctness, improving procedure outlines, and following the procedure order.

Exemplary standard for double testing

Below is a standard fragment, in which I thoroughly describe how a Developer and Project Manager should carry out double testing of corrected errors.

Person Operation Procedures

DEV

23

Testing

DEV

24

Successful ending of tests – tick the checkbox

DEV

25

Otherwise, go back to operation no. 1

PM

26

Testing

PM

27

Successful ending of tests – tick the checkbox

PM

28

Otherwise, inform the Developer about the problem

PM

29

Together with the Developer, clarify the problem with testing

PM

30

Successful ending of tests – tick the checkbox OR go back to procedure no. 1

PM

31

Order the Developer to make a backup

DEV

32

Make a backup of the database and files, and tick the task on a list

PM

33

Inform the Client via the CRM system about the error correction and ask for acceptance

Source: own elaboration

Standard fragment for double testing

Double testing is an important moment in the project. It involves two persons legitimizing the functioning of the client’s web service before we inform him about solving the problem. We know from experience that double testing significantly improves our efficiency – another part of FIXMAKERS’ mission.

Is data backup important?

OF COURSE! Does everyone make a backup regularly? NOT NECESSARILY. Why?

Because, despite the risk, the perspective of completely deleting the website’s source data seems to be oddly distant for us… But look at an email we received from a client last week:

Hi, Slawek. One of our interns just messed it all up, by trying to update the WordPress version. Do you have a remaining backup of our site, because the theme broke.

During our process, we make a backup copy in 2 key moments: the moment we start work and the moment we inform the client about correcting the error. Thanks to this, we are always prepared when a client asks as for a backup copy. After we get the client off the hook, the best review of our work is feedback. I think the best feedback we have ever received in the history of our company is:

Oh, thank you! You are a lifesaver! 😉

BTW, we sent the intern home 😀

Thank you! You are a lifesaver! 😉

Jeff Sutherland, the creator of the SCRUM method, says that “waste is a crime”. Eliminating muda is the primary goal of kaizen, that is, making small, stable, and measurable improvements, which, in the space of weeks or even months, enormously influence the speed and quality of task completion.

Working on the WordPress open-source system, in fact, is no different than working in Toyota factories, or at any other place. It’s because every working environment involves many processes that can generate muda (loss), and, frequently, they do so, especially when they are not standardized and closely analyzed.

This is caused by obvious factors, such as both the workers’ and managers’ subjective approach towards work efficiency, and also the habits of our everyday lives that show up in our work. After getting to know the general principles of lean thinking, we can realize how many resources are in reality wasted. We usually blame other coworkers for failures, but in line with the Japanese Poka Yoke principle  – people cannot be blamed for mistakes, but PROCESSES.

 

Share:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *