Talk:Reports 8Sep12

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I've moved questions on reports from the Reports page to here so the reports remain readable The Land (talk) 21:32, 31 August 2012 (UTC)

Mike's report[edit source]

(Finance proposal)
Can I ask if this proposal has been discussed at all with the Treasurer or Chief Executive? The Land (talk) 21:25, 31 August 2012 (UTC)
I think you'll quickly find such a restrictive policy quickly becomes unmanageable and harms the efficient operation of the charity... perhaps the auditors could provide some guidance on appropriate controls. --Tango (talk) 23:52, 31 August 2012 (UTC)
The deprecation point has been discussed with John (but not Jon). The trustee limits point has not yet been discussed, and I hope that this page can serve as the starting point of that discussion. I keep finding out about expenditure that has taken place outside of the approved budget descriptions, and (as a trustee) I hate to be in the position of having to reactively respond to things rather than being able to proactively contribute to them. I view the current situation that we're in as being unmanageable - and I'm hoping that this proposal can move us towards something that is more manageable, and which can be effectively scaled up over time. Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 20:01, 2 September 2012 (UTC)
I think the problem is that the budget descriptions aren't detailed enough. Nothing in the plan has any kind of breakdown, so there is a lot of freedom with budget controllers on how exactly to spend it. As long as that can be improved for next year, so that the basic framework of how the money is going to be spent is approved at the start of the year, it should be fine. It isn't feasible to have the board proactively contributing to individual expenditure decisions outside of the budget approval process. You need to approve the budget and then let people get on with spending the money. If there is spending happening outside of approved budget descriptions, then that is a problem, but I doubt that is the case - the budget descriptions are so broad that it would be hard to go outside them. --Tango (talk) 22:49, 2 September 2012 (UTC)
The reason for that is because each budget was supposed to be broken down publicly on a subpage, as I did with the budgets I'm responsible for. That way, there's complete transparency in the process, and the community (and board) can be involved as much as they want to, whilst keeping plenty of flexibility within the budget lines to cope with changing situations. Unfortunately, I was the only one that did this. :-( So this is my fallback position - if we can't have full transparency with the community, then please let's make sure that at least the board knows what's going on! Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 18:12, 3 September 2012 (UTC)
It was done in the wrong order, though. The totals were approved and then budget holders were asked to come up with a breakdown that added up to that total. We have tended to create budgets in a rush at the last minute. Now we are more organised and have staff to support the process, we need to have proper budget proposals with sufficiently detailed breakdowns presented to the board for approval. This isn't about transparency, it's about financial controls. --Tango (talk) 20:46, 3 September 2012 (UTC)
My apologies for assuming good faith here. :-( Budget holders presented broad-brush arguments for the total amounts that they were requesting, which were funded on the basis that they would follow up those requests with more details. I agree that we have tended to create budgets in a rush - but I note that we seem to be following the same approach now as we have in the past, despite having more staff resources available. That's most likely because our staff are focused on our work rather than having the time to work on our the budget requests, since budget responsibility is more the responsibility of volunteers rather than staff, although I would have liked to see our staff paying much more attention to the actual budget plan rather than the ideas page. :-( I still maintain that this should be about transparency, but since that transparency hasn't taken place I'm having to resort to the stick of requiring more rigorous financial controls. :-( Mike Peel (talk) 22:00, 3 September 2012 (UTC)
I don't think it is an act of bad faith to not write up a detailed budget after it has been approved. There isn't really much to gain. The benefit of a detailed budget is so that the board can make an informed decision about whether or not to approve it. If the board was happy to approve it without the detail, then what is the point? I don't see transparency as an alternative to financial controls. Transparency is mostly about the community holding the board to account. Financial controls is about how the board holds itself and its staff to account. --Tango (talk) 11:13, 4 September 2012 (UTC)
Actually the three years has been discussed with me and is sensible. Books are not capital equipment so in effect it is the computers.Jon Davies (WMUK) (talk) 15:00, 3 September 2012 (UTC)
Tango is quite right about the budget heads being too broad. They should be broken down into smaller tranches and then we can monitor spend against them which will be helpful. Small downside will be that there will be more virement needed during the year as one line underspends and another overspends but we can cope with that. This really should obviate the need for referrals back to the board. As we grow we are making more and more payments. In August apart form the five salaries (barely creeping over £1000 each!) there were 4 payments over £1K. Around Wikimania DC you can imagine how many...Jon Davies (WMUK) (talk) 14:58, 3 September 2012 (UTC)
So, in August 2012 we paid £14,555.30 for the salary (inc tax and NI) of 5 staff members (i.e. an average of ~£2,900 each) - which is rather more than the £1k/ea that you state; £1,602.68 to PDC Copyprint (I'm not sure what this was for?); £3,000.00 to UHY Hacker Young for our audit; £1,372.59 to the Open Knowledge Foundation (which was a long-standing payment that has been extensively discussed at board level), £2060.30 to SmartDebit (presumably covering our transaction costs for our direct debit donations), and £1,299.95 to Misco (again, I'm not sure what this was for?). Under the financial processes that I'm proposing, only the first would have had to have been formally approved (and I would argue that this should be an exception to the rule that I'm proposing). Of the rest, I would have expected the Board to be aware of these expenditures, and ideally that the community should also be aware of this expenditure. Making the Board aware of these costs is a negligible amount of work (it could easily be incorporated into your weekly reports to the Board). I trust that you can quantify (rather than leaving to people's imaginations) how many such payments were made during Wikimania? Any way you look at this, I'm not requesting anything outlandish - I'm actually being rather conservative here (which, as a liberal, is driving me somewhat around the bend). Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 22:37, 3 September 2012 (UTC)
All the tiny extra pieces of work add up. For example Richard's answer to your query on some payments yesterday took him half an hour to get all the information and send the email and me ten minutes to check over and discuss with him. Add it all up and it is poor value for money for the Charity and its donors. We have good financial systems that we are improving all the time, e.g. sub heads within overall budgets is a good idea e.g. 'WIR Cleethorpes' could contain, salary, travel, equipment, etc. It is hard letting go of all the day to day stuff but we have staff who are accountable and need to be trusted. We have a treasurer who keeps a regular eye on everything on behalf of the trustees as well and he is no pushover!Jon Davies (WMUK) (talk) 08:36, 4 September 2012 (UTC)
What's a "major event"...? The Land (talk) 21:33, 31 August 2012 (UTC)
Good question! Any suggestions of a definition? Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 20:01, 2 September 2012 (UTC)
Events at which we're expecting lots of attendees, especially those that don't fall strictly within a dedicated budget line, and only when assistance is requested by the organiser or the relevant sister committee. I'm not expecting too many of these (maybe two or three a year at most, excluding conferences). Harry Mitchell | Penny for your thoughts? 16:21, 3 September 2012 (UTC)
I'd advise against giving ConfCon more responsibility until there has been time to assess how well it is doing with its current responsibilities (it has only existed for two months). You don't want to spread them too thin. --Tango (talk) 22:57, 2 September 2012 (UTC)
Minor factual correction: it's existed since May (nearly four months). Harry Mitchell | Penny for your thoughts? 17:09, 4 September 2012 (UTC)
It was formally created by the board two months ago (see the minutes). It may have existed informally for a couple of months before that. Either way, it hasn't existed long enough for anyone to be able to assess how well it is doing yet. It also seems to lack any terms of reference, which will make assessing it against them a little difficult... --Tango (talk) 18:59, 4 September 2012 (UTC)
Possible funding for Wikimania - can I just point out that this was an idea from a volunteer that I put in the proposals :) But actually I think it makes sense to support the volunteers who might have to get this thing going.Jon Davies (WMUK) (talk) 10:35, 7 September 2012 (UTC)
I'm not sure what you are responding to - your indentation suggests you are responding to my comment about the date of creation of the committee, but I'm guessing that's an error. However, I think it is important to note that most (if not all) of the objections to the proposal (which you either made or implicitly supported by including in your draft - it really doesn't matter which, since we don't judge proposals based on who proposed them) are to the degree and form of support rather than the general idea of supporting the bid. --Tango (talk) 12:41, 7 September 2012 (UTC)

Roger's report[edit source]

(Wikipedia towns)
  • I'm afraid that don't understand your statement here. I'm unclear as to what agreements you think have been made about town projects - in particular, what decisions do you understand have been made about delaying them? WMUK has not been able to set out its position in any sort of clear way here since it is currently lacking crucial information that would inform its position, which I'm hoping you can provide at this meeting. Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 20:59, 31 August 2012 (UTC)
(Gibraltar MOU)
Please post a draft of the MoU here. Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 20:59, 31 August 2012 (UTC)
Which conferences are these? Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 20:59, 31 August 2012 (UTC)
  • It's your responsibility to ensure that this report is filed here! Mike Peel (talk) 20:59, 31 August 2012 (UTC)
Please can you post a link to this logo? Please can you provide more details about this exhibit, and the talks? I trust that you are aware of the outcomes of the Board meeting on 21 August? Mike Peel (talk) 20:59, 31 August 2012 (UTC)
Yes, Roger is aware of the outcomes, though the outcome of that meeting has not yet been implemented. The Land (talk)
(Other news)
    • Please provide links to these events. Mike Peel (talk) 20:59, 31 August 2012 (UTC)
    • Please provide further information here - how and when does the BBC want to feature this, and under what sort of context? Mike Peel (talk) 20:59, 31 August 2012 (UTC)
    • Please explain what this relationship is? Mike Peel (talk) 20:59, 31 August 2012 (UTC)