Herculean Labors for Mortals: Lessons in making daunting tasks manageable

Short Form


Lessons learned from messy migrations and unruly upgrades. Sometimes we inherit (or create!) big messes, and have to untangle them before we can make more progress. I'll talk about some past and current projects that seemed like they might require Xena: Warrior Project Manager, and techniques that allowed me and my team to succeed (or at least live to fight another day), focusing on what can be generalized to many circumstances and projects.


My adventures have included:
- Doing project management and user support for 100+ brynmawr.edu site editors
- Web projects involving multiple vendors and clients
- Planning a migration of brynmawr.edu from flat HTML files to Drupal
- Cleaning up a WordPress Multisite install (70 plugins and 100 themes, ouch) and developing procedures to keep it sustainable.

- How to break down that big, messy project into manageable tasks.
- Techniques for making progress, even if cleanup isn’t exciting to your administration.
- Ways to say “no” and set boundaries so a project somebody wants Right Now doesn’t return to haunt you (much).
- Methods for making your work more sustainable.
- Ways you can support yourself and your teammates/colleagues while doing difficult work.


project management, sustainability, collaboration, Best Practices, Process

Speaking experience

I’ve given a talk on WordPress Multisite cleanup and maintenance at edUi 2012 and Wordcamp Philly 2012; video and slides are available at http://wordpress.tv/2013/02/17/catherine-farman-juliana-perry-what-the-was-this-plugin-for-anyway-maintaining-a-sustainable-wordpress-multisite-install/ . I’ve also participated in and moderated a number of panels at Wiscon.


  • Juliana Perry

    Bryn Mawr College


    I have a Masters in Library and Information Science and the PMP certification, so I spend a lot of time planning and thinking about how information is organized. I do project management and user support at Bryn Mawr College, and work extensively with WordPress and Drupal. Other interests include accessibility and feminist science fiction.