Civi911: the first 6 months

2015-05-04 07:17
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My colleague Tommy has been leading our response at AGH Strategies for Civi911 calls that come in, and he's noticed a few common themes.  I suspect that you may encounter some of these same issues, and this might save you some time and money in addressing problems that crop up on your CiviCRM site.

Six Common Problems We’ve Seen in the First Six Months of Civi911

Six months ago we launched a service for emergency, one-off support requests called Civi911. We’ve gotten calls from all sizes and types of organizations, and many of them share common problems.

  1. Wordpress Plugins - Not to name names, but the first thing we do with a non-working Wordpress site is to disable all the plugins. Typically it is a caching plugin that is wreaking havoc, but it is best to leave no stone unturned. The most problematic have been the plugins bundled with a particular theme or hosting service that do just about everything on the site including stopping CiviCRM in its tracks.
  2. Permissions - There are so many checkboxes, who knows what they all do? Throw in some ACLs linked to out-dated smart groups, then it gets really confusing. One can find themselves in a serious mess pretty easily. Sorting it all out is quite similar to untangling Christmas lights.
  3. HTTPS Drops the S - Is the site’s CSS going crazy every time an end user leaves a Civi page to return to the main site? They are likely getting lost in the nether world between HTTPS and HTTP. Forcing the entire site to SSL can cure this issue and help with your Google ranking as well.
  4. The Forgotten/Missing Cron Job -  Emails not being sent? Statuses not updating?  System just slowing down? Your Cron Job might be broken or non-existent. The thing cron can’t seem to do is fix itself. This often occurs after a CiviCRM and server upgrade or when someone revokes the permissions of the cron user. Worse yet the former employee who would manually trigger scheduled jobs is no longer at the organization.
  5. Outdated Custom Work or Extensions - There once was a developer, but now there isn’t. Their custom code or template is sitting there from an old version of CiviCRM. No one knows what it was suppose to do, but it is definitely doing something wrong. Most of the time the changes were pushed into core and the files can be deleted or there is a new version of the extension.
  6. Config Files - They don’t age well. CiviCRM and CMS config files need regular maintenance. Updating the CMS Integration settings. Removing random additions from log unused plugins. Sometimes they are just really old and missing new lines. Then there is the user who tried to edit it and a left out a key piece of punctuation.

If you've got a weird problem not on this list, don't just sit on it thinking it'll get better.  We've seen a lot of crazy stuff, and nearly anything is fixable.  A small investment of time with your implementor or Civi911 can make sure your system performs as well as you should expect.