The Power of Process

My team had developed a website in record time to meet a client’s immovable deadline. In fact, the site was ready for client final review 10 days early. We were sitting pretty. Or so we thought.

An Arranged Marriage

As we made plans to host the client’s new WordPress website at a reliable and modestly priced internet service provider (ISP), the client introduced a new contact to our team. He was a part-time technology consultant who managed the small firm’s email, internal network and other miscellaneous duties including the start-up website that our team had been engaged to replace.

Who’s on First?

Our new IT partner had his own ideas about where to host. Although we expressed disappointment at this well-known non-performing ISP, we could live with it. The website was not mission-critical and if there were hosting issues down the line, the site could always be moved later or the client would simply accept the ISP’s misbehavior. It was not a show stopper. But then the project really went south.

Now Escape with Both Hands Tied

Because the IT consultant also managed other infrastructure at this hosting site, we were to be given limited access to the ISP. Moreover, our new IT friend indicated his intent to set up the WordPress environment and was preparing to receive our website files and database although we had not sought this “assistance.”

The arrival of this complicating news was followed by an exchange of many emails and several phone calls. Directions from the IT consultant came with incorrect credentials, inaccurate ftp upload directions and somewhat of a tug of war over controlling the quality of the launch. Our process was slipping away and our time was escalating.

The Client is Not Always Right (But they’re always the client)

In the end, the client backed its IT consultant. Instead of $84 for a full year of hosting from our preferred ISP and a smooth and efficient launch process, we engaged in 4 hours of unbillable time wrangling over the IT consultant’s desired process.   Too bad for us. Suck it up. But more importantly and regrettably, the client lost as well. A process we had followed with great success succumbed to an impromptu series of misdirection and errors.

So Now Who’s In Charge?

Most important, the site is not up and it remains an open question as to whether it will be successfully published by the mutually agreed launch date. Failure to follow a proven process has led to other casualties as well. And the open question remains if or when something is not working correctly who is responsible?

Once the site is launched our process would have continued to provide added value including:

  1. weekly automated back up of the site for 1 year
  2. regular (at least quarterly) security and patch updates to WordPress for 1 year
  3. configuration of caching, webmaster tools
  4. 30 day post-launch warranty on the site function
  5. staff training on use of the WordPress interface

Due to limited site access most of this added value, with the exception of staff training, may not be able to be executed. Of course, we’ll do whatever we can with the permissions we have.

Takeaway: Update Our Process

This website launch case story is exclusively about process. It is not about being “right” or being in control. It is about following steps that have been put in place based on prior errors and missteps that we, and everyone, makes on their way toward improving and perfecting a process.

Our one takeaway? Shame on us. Close the hosting arrangement at the very top of the project and avoid surprises. Add that to our process.

Have you had a process disrupted? What have been the implications for you? Share your story.