User:ErrantX/2013 Developer role

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This page is a draft proposal for a contracted developer to handle WMUK needs over the short term & to act as a base for building long term technology strategy.

Background

Recently a developer position was advertised; it appears no successful candidate was found. At the time criticism was made of the process in hiring a developer - some of the comments included:

  • Broad scope of tasks (from project management through programming to sysadmin)
  • Relatively low wage (the description was looking for an all-rounder with management experience, in London, at a rate around £10K below the going rate)
  • Lack of definition of work (it was unclear what tasks would need to be performed)

Need

Wikimedia UK does need developer support; currently servers and services are being supported by volunteers (in fact; mainly one volunteer I believe). In addition there is no support for the UK MediaWiki developer community etc.

Proposal

This proposal suggests that for the 2013 budget period Wikimedia UK hires a developer for one day a week, with a contract agreement for "out of hours" support. This is fairly common for smaller firms needing technical support, but without the immediate need for a full time worker.

Although contract prices are generally higher than full-time employment rates, the overall budget should be significantly less than what was earmarked in 2012. It will be more than one-fifth of a full-time employee at ~£25,000; however, it should allow us to find the better qualified candidates that the previous proposal wanted.

The contract could be flexible to allow e.g. the developer to attend weekend events (the ability to volunteer to be at events would also be a plus!) but the contracted working day should normally be fixed each week.

Ideally the contractor would be fairly self-sufficient in identifying work requirements from the staff, board and community - and scheduling their work as appropriate. Reporting to the CE regularly.

Scope of work

Initially the focus of the developer would be in assessing both the current technical set up of Wikimedia UK as well as examining the technical needs of the charity. Potentially leading to a report (say, within 4 weeks) outlining these findings. Beyond this the role would then involve:

  • Technical support for office staff
  • Technical support for volunteer events
  • Development/Maintenance of WMUK servers and services
  • Support for UK MediaWiki development community etc. (bot developers and so on)
  • Support for UK projects (Qrpedia etc. - scope of work to be defined)
  • Work on fundraiser

The developer/manager could be a remote worker (and indeed that would be almost a certainty) providing support to the office in various ways. A budget line could be created for occasional travel to London for in-person meetings & support.

Non-urgent matters could be queued up via email or the office wiki for completion/discussion on the contracted day. Urgent matters under a certain hourly limit per week could be used by all staff/board - above the hourly limit by authorisation of the CE/Board.

Budget

I propose keeping the developer budget the same as last year (£30,000) or less. Here is an outline of a possible budget; with a more well defined requirements then hardware/software budgets could be factored in. It could also include a travel budget to allow the developer to attend hackathon's etc. as appropriate.

Line Item Unit Price Units Total (£)
Developer, 1 day per week £100 (£15/hr)[1] 52 6,240
Developer, hourly support £17[1] 100[2] 1700
Technical Budget TBD n/a 10,000
£17,940
  1. Estimated unit cost - I recommend tendering for competitive offers
  2. This is an estimation of the amount of out-of-hours support required based on my own experience, it is probably an overestimate

Process

Wikimedia UK defines its requirements - including experience and expected projects - and invites individuals to tender proposals.

Analysis

Various problems, as well as advantages, exist:

  • This is fairly common practice for smaller companies so there are quite a lot of individuals available to work this way.
  • Contractor rates are higher than full time employees - but because Wikimedia UK would be entering into a guaranteed one day per week contract then the rates are a lot lower than ad-hoc contracting (due to better job security).
  • The approach allows flexibility in hours - however it will limit support outside of those hours.
  • Contractors may be less inclined to become involved in the community; as they live by hours they can work!

To do

As a community Wikimedia UK needs to agree:

  • The charities specific development needs (preferably with rough specifications for each project, as appropriate)
  • Long term development goals

With a clear idea of the requirements for a development role, this position could be tendered.

WMUK Tech needs

Please fill this in!

  • Fundraiser (??)
  • Projects..
    • Moodle support/development (education project)
    • QRPedia development (??)