Donna Penick, Project Manager in Los Angeles, CA, United States
Donna Penick

Project Manager in Los Angeles, CA, United States

Member since April 25, 2019
Donna is a well-rounded and versatile project and product management leader, with industry experience ranging from aerospace and government to digital media and eCommerce. Her experience at startups and medium-sized businesses such as LegalZoom and Napster has given her hands-on experience with IT and software development projects and process improvement. Donna likes challenges and is excited to work with new clients on new projects.
Donna is now available for hire

Project Highlights



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  • Expert Consultant/Project Manager, Product Owner, Business Analyst, Change Agent

    2016 - 2018
    US Small Business Administration
    • Led transition of the development team within OCIO from waterfall to Agile, introduced use of Jira.
    • Mentored contractor scrum master, developers, and junior business analysts; educated career Federal IT employees on Agile practices.
    • Drove project to move all SharePoint team and collaboration sites from SharePoint 2007 on local servers to SharePoint Online; completed project in 7 months (previous failed attempt took 15 months).
    • Spearheaded project to upgrade and migrate all custom SharePoint applications from SharePoint 2010 on local servers to SharePoint 2016 in Azure (IaaS). This was SBA's first success in a project to move all locally hosted applications to Azure.
    • Functioned as proxy product owner to rewrite and launch two legacy ColdFusion applications into SharePoint.
  • Consultant

    2015 - 2015
    • Performed discovery for a small nonprofit in preparation for building a new online store. Documented as-is condition for all internal processes; proposed to-be desired end state.
    • Made recommendations on integrating new store (WordPress/WooCommerce) with accounting system (Sage) and other manual internal legacy processes.
    • Researched and recommended plug-ins to support various desired new features.
  • Director, Process & Technology/Project Manager, Product Owner, Business Analyst

    2007 - 2015
    LegalZoom, Inc.
    • Transformed engineering processes by setting up dev, test and staging environments, enforcing the use of source control, creating a QA team, and implementing a formal release process.
    • Instituted intake process to provide a single channel for triage of new work requests.
    • Championed transition from waterfall to agile; functioned as product owner for internal applications team. Tools included Jira and Confluence.
    • Conceived and delivered a 10-month project to revamp the ordering system to comply with GAAP revenue recognition requirements and achieve auditable financials to support an S-1 filing.
    • Drove to completion a stalled project to automate fulfillment in FileNet workflow system for all products that were still being fulfilled manually.
    • Successfully delivered two major new internal .NET applications supporting customer care and finance.
    • Functioned as technical project manager on salesforce implementation for customer care, including API development, object and interface design, and data migration.
    • Managed rapid prototyping, iteration, and operationalization of subscription products, contributing to significant year-over-year revenue growth.
  • Program Manager, Software Development/Project Manager, Business Analyst, Technical Writer, Tester

    1999 - 2007
    Universal Music Group/Napster
    • Facilitated all requirements, design, status, and launch readiness meetings for four iterations of digital music services that eventually became the legal version of Napster. Created data maps, process flow diagrams and other documentation for this Oracle/Linux-based system.
    • Performed end-user testing on desktop client.
    • Managed major releases, including coordinating resources from geographically distributed groups.
    • Selected i18n and L10n vendor, completed project to prepare the database and web app to handle double-byte character sets, and localized the service for launch in Germany and Japan.
    • Managed integration of XM Radio Online into Napster, and integration of Napster with Sonos.
    • Filed as joint patent holder for the silent license delivery and renewal system (Microsoft Digital Rights Management) used before the company moved to unencrypted MP3s.
  • Technical Writer

    1998 - 1998
    • Supervised technical writing consultants, including screening, interviewing and hiring.
    • Wrote interface control documents, architecture documents, functional and design specifications, release notes, and installation guides for headend components and subsystems for interactive TV system.
    • Was given a double bonus for diligence to stay fully engaged and complete the documentation for all subsystems after extensive layoffs in favor of outsourcing.
  • ILS Project Leader/Project Leader, Technical Writer

    1989 - 1998
    LItton Data Systems
    • Led modernization of department from DOS-based word processors to Unix-based Interleaf publishing system.
    • Proposed and implemented a conditional text system that significantly reduced errors and cut the time required to incorporate review comments by 45%.
    • Proposed and led delivery of "just-enough" documentation set for two prototype projects for US Marine Corps.
    • Led project to document all operating procedures for a client Information Services group.
  • Engineering Writer Specialist/Technical Writer, Project Leader

    1985 - 1989
    Northrop Aircraft, Ventura Division
    • Collaborated/iterated with IBM Script/VS developers to create a conditional text system that significantly decreased errors and reduced by 75% the time required to incorporate changes into test and maintenance procedures.
    • Worked with Script/VS developers to create an automated text formatting system that correctly applied all rules of the governing military specifications with no need for manual intervention. By using embed tags, the rules for multiple Mil-Specs could be applied to the same set of files, significantly reducing errors and time for incorporating changes.
    • Managed all customer reviews and post-review cycles to incorporate and verify review comments.
    • Received commendations from field engineering, flight operations, and customer for the caliber of work and attention to detail.

Project History

  • Revenue Recognition/S-1 Filing
    This project enabled the company to produce auditable financials meeting GAAP requirements in order to prepare for IPO.

    LegalZoom wanted to prepare for IPO, but the state of order and financial data could not support GAAP requirements. This project required broad changes to the SQL database structures, many internal customer care and fulfillment processes, and the eCommerce website. Payment processing had to change. New .NET applications were needed to support customer care and provide an auditable record of new products and price changes. Because everything was so tightly coupled, most of the project had to be deployed at the same time, with large data migration and a hard deadline.

    We outsourced all but the website work to an offshore company whose owner was an architect and worked in our office for the duration of the project. We identified product owners for the new applications and key stakeholders in each fulfillment team, and hired a technical PM. We prioritized everything that had to or could roll out before the main launch and got that done. Detailed deployment planning ensured the rollout went smoothly, and we met our deadline, giving Finance the necessary window to prepare the S-1 filing.

    The company is still privately owned, with a current valuation of $2 billion.

  • Engineering Process Transformation
    Instituted standard software development, testing, and release processes in a fast-growing, seven-year-old startup.

    LegalZoom needed to mature its IT processes in order to take the next steps in growth. There were many challenges: minimal QA and no dev/test/staging environments, no auditable release process, and source control was used inconsistently. Most of all, the developer mindset was process-averse, thinking that the process would hinder rather than help.

    We performed a deep-dive discovery to inventory all servers and their contents that comprised the platform, and to identify stakeholders and the workflows in each fulfillment team. We then built and tested the environments, enlisting these stakeholders as core team members for testing. We also formed a QA team and built a SharePoint workflow for managing releases.

    The developer mindset changed gradually, via many discussions and some notable fails, but persistence paid off and the result was a more mature process that could support the next step of preparing for IPO.

  • Upgrade SharePoint Applications and Move to Azure
    Led upgrade/migration of custom SharePoint applications from SharePoint 2010 on premises to SharePoint 2016 in Azure.

    A software upgrade had been pending for several years with no forward progress, and new OCIO management wanted to move all local data center servers to Azure (IaaS). Challenges were due to limited resources and lack of access to servers, lack of expertise, and frequent interruptions for production support. My main tasks were to convince management that others should step up and learn how to do production support, to obtain training and support from Microsoft for the resources working on the project, to help the primary resource think through technical issues, and to get permission from operations for the primary resource to have extended server access while he was learning how to set up and configure the server farm. The farms were successfully built in the on-premise data center, and the applications were upgraded and run locally until the Azure environment was ready. This was the first success in moving internal customer-facing applications to Azure.

  • Website and Database Internationalization and Localization
    Led a project to localize Napster's platform for launch in Germany and Japan.

    Researched and selected vendor, then led the project to internationalize the Oracle/PHP platform to handle double-byte characters. Managed the follow-on efforts to localize into German and then Japanese. Worked with vendor, local and in-country resources to support successful launches in both countries.

  • Operationalized Subscription Products
    Worked with business owner to prototype, iterate, and operationalize subscription products as a major new product offering.

    The executive team wanted to bundle subscription legal services with the legal documents that were already part of the product suite. It was no problem to offer various flavors of subscription services on the website; the challenge was to effect those changes into the fulfillment system so customers actually got what they had purchased, and also would lose access to features if the subscription lapsed.

    It was not feasible to modify all downstream processes for each iteration of the product offering, so initially, most services were fulfilled manually; a few could be configured for a certain block of time via the product catalog. Until the subscription features were firmly defined, each cohort of purchasers had to be tracked throughout their subscription life to ensure they had access.

    As soon as it became apparent that subscriptions were viable, we began working with fulfillment and the FileNet workflow team to extend workflow to include subscription features, and with the web team to ensure that features available via My Account were accessible with an active subscription.

    Subscriptions became a significant portion of revenue and were an important step in the growth of the company.

  • SharePoint Sites Migration from On-Premise to Cloud
    Moved all SharePoint sites to SharePoint Online and decommissioned local servers.

    The agency's SharePoint team sites were running on obsolete versions of both SharePoint and Windows Server. The sites were large and stale, and OCIO had no relationships with program office stakeholders to engage in the cleanup. A previous failed attempt to build an on-premise server farm and upgrade the team sites had taken 15 months as a waterfall project. Even though moving to SharePoint Online was a far better solution than building new servers on premises, the move to the cloud was perceived to be high risk by some of management.

    The first step was to get executive buy-in to move to SharePoint Online. Next was to identify stakeholders in each program office who could help identify what to keep, archive, or delete. We were able to archive/delete about half of the 1.5 TB of data.

    The department had not yet transitioned to Agile, but I used a modified Agile approach, grouping the sites into "sprints" for migration and test by the dev team, with UAT and go-live in subsequent "sprints." The SharePoint contractor team was energized and excited to be going to the cloud, and we completed the project in 7 months.


  • Bachelor's degree in Education
    1973 - 1974
    University of Tennessee - Knoxville, Tennessee
  • Bachelor's degree in Liberal Arts
    1969 - 1973
    University of Tennessee - Knoxville, Tennessee


  • Certified Scrum Master
    APRIL 2015 - APRIL 2017
    Scrum Alliance
  • Project Management Professional (PMP)
    MARCH 2005 - MARCH 2008
    Project Management Institute (PMI)

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