How S&F upgraded/migrated a Drupal website for a dance company that performed for an estimated 25 million people in 71 countries – with an impossible deadline.
In the summer of 2020, one East Coast digital agency turned to S&F for help. They committed to upgrade/migrate a Drupal website for a large client and needed to scale their internal team. This famous dance company performed for an estimated 25 million people in 70+ countries and was the Agency’s key account. The deadline was tight and our combined team lost some members. S&F took up the job, notwithstanding the challenge.
Over-optimistic commitment at the sales stage. The Agency’s initial estimate turned out to be inaccurate. To make matters worse, the project was sold at a fixed price. Meeting the target deadlines and budget didn’t seem impossible. But they could not turn down the client, as it would deal a severe blow to the reputation.
Having to execute a plan they didn’t make. The original plan was to migrate 60-80% (5000 pages) of content from D7 to D8 automatically and later fill in (hopefully small) gaps manually. S&F’s role was restricted to assisting in executing the plan. The project was planned and sold without the participation of S&F. However, the amount of content was too large, and the structure of Drupal itself has undergone big changes. S&F developers warned that it was easier to write from scratch and then ask Juniors to complete it manually. But the work had already started.
No documentation & all the bugs we inherited. S&F couldn’t get the budget for testing the original site for defects to define what issues we may end up being responsible for. The original D7 website was full of bugs that were migrated automatically to the new D8 website. To make things worse, no technical documentation was available at the early stage.
Stress stemming from an aggressive deadline. The start date was delayed due to the partner’s long period of estimation and research, but the launch deadline remained the same. Because of a few cases of stop-and-go and juggling resources between in-house and our team, our engineers couldn’t concentrate and fully dive into the migration process, creating bottlenecks and communications delays.
Against the odds of challenges described above, S&F was determined to finish the project and convert a new account to a long-term relationship.
Since the commitment was already made by their partners, S&F had to accept the challenge and make their best effort to minimize potential losses.
Firstly, S&F re-estimated the project so that we could set the right expectations and present realistic delivery milestones. We discovered that we need to double the number of hours to finish this project. This allowed us to move the expected delivery date by 1.5 months. The solution engineering effort allowed us to find the best approaches to subsequent phases in the shortest time possible.
Secondly, the company conducted an informal discovery to create comprehensive documentation of all aspects of the migration process. They had to spend a significant part of the budget on that, but the documentation they were able to generate as a result enabled them to quickly and smoothly onboard new developers to the projects to make sure they could process a large volume of work on such a tight deadline.
Subsequently, S&F allocated three senior engineers and one producer to contribute to the combined S&F/agency delivery team. Additionally, they had one mid-devel Drupal and two front-end engineers available on-demand to help the core team move quicker. S&F worked overtime during weekends to increase the chances of meeting the deadlines, making the sacrifices they had to make in order to compensate for the time lost upfront.
Having spent 1512 hours on the project, the team successfully completed it. Thanks to the new documentation, S&F has the ability to onboard new developers quickly and smoothly. Also, the roadmap they created allows for long-term planning.
The adjusted deadline was missed by six weeks, but without such a huge effort, the delay could be much longer. The end-client was satisfied with the result. They received a stable marketing website on a new Drupal version that attracted more clients due to interactive UI and increased subscriptions and sales through features like scheduling trainings, and online shop, and performance tickets.
Driven by our Deliberately Developmental Organization approach, we are not afraid of new challenges. We believe that stressful situations like that help us grow. We also believe in building long-term relationships and are ready to bend over backwards to have our partner’s back. Agency lost two developers during the project, and most of the workload was moved to our team. Moreover, the Dance company project wasn’t a single one. Agency’s PMs had us work on multiple projects simultaneously.
Streamlining the work of both teams in such conditions wasn’t easy. Our engineers were often blocked by the Agency’s team members’ work and in a few cases couldn’t continue working on the project. The S&F team always raised red flags in such situations, proposed help, and a way of solution. We also added highly skilled developers into the project along with solution engineers and worked overtime to hit the aggressive timeline.
Tags: Entertainment, dance, theater, drupal migration