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#1 trixt.er  Icon User is offline

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Programming Work Woes

Posted 29 April 2014 - 03:19 PM

The header pretty much sums it up. I'm a federal employee and am developer at work. Recently I was made Tech Lead for two projects. That's a lot to take on. I can handle the tech side but the managerial side is difficult. I have a new Division Tech Lead that has been cramming things down my throat. To make matters worse I'm the only official developer on the whole team. There are guys who write up documentation and do book keeping for me but I have to do all the coding. I'm fine with that but between being required to go to a bunch of meetings and dealing with a very bossy tech director I've found myself drained at the end of the day. I sent my supervisor an email today and said that my tech director is muddying up the waters and is making life very difficult for me in terms of actually getting anything effective done. That and he is constantly changing his requirements on me. So what's your advice? Have you been in my shoes? I told my supervisor today that I had reached my limit. She's a nice woman and I know she'll sympathize with me but I'm not sure this will make a difference long term. May be time to look for another job.

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Replies To: Programming Work Woes

#2 Bort  Icon User is offline

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Re: Programming Work Woes

Posted 30 April 2014 - 03:07 AM

I constantly have to deal with the attitude of 'You're a programmer, it doesn't matter what we ask of you, you can have it done, by yourself, in a day.' Or the assumption that knowledge of one programming language means that all of them are magically transferred into my brain.
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#3 ThomasHohner  Icon User is offline

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Re: Programming Work Woes

Posted 30 April 2014 - 06:56 AM

I'm not as high level as you gentleman but I was pondering this very circumstance this morning. I do all of our reporting via SSRS and it is very frustrating when Management expects something without understanding what goes into it. Recently they told some auditors that I would have all the desired reports up and running by the end of the week. They told the Auditors on Monday, told me on Wednesday. Some of these request were not even close to a basic query.

I feel like shouting at them I'm not a robot I'm a human being!
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#4 baavgai  Icon User is online

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Re: Programming Work Woes

Posted 30 April 2014 - 07:49 AM

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Programmers shouldn't be in meetings. I avoid them like the plague and tolerate them with less grace than I might. If you pull my ass into a meeting, you better have a job for me or something should be on fire.

That said, you will get stuck in meetings. Make it clear, as nicely as possible, that every moment spent in meetings negatively impacts the already agreed upon development schedule.

View Posttrixt.er, on 29 April 2014 - 05:19 PM, said:

That and he is constantly changing his requirements on me.

This is common. Most people don't know what they really want up front. They usually get "ideas" after some work is done and they actually have something to look at.

The trick is to make it clear what is expected at every step. The requirements should be spelled out, in writing. Any change to those requirements should be documented.

It's also common for people to try to informally change requirements on you, as if their "minor change" is something so trivial you can just do it without any effort at all. Make it clear how long it will take to make the change and its level of impact. The change should be submitted in writing, so that it may be documented and attributed. Even if the change is requested by the project manager, have them send you an email confirming their requirements. Also have an audit trail.

Your job is to make the program people want. It is not your fault people don't know what they want. The longer you do this, the better you'll get at guessing what they want before they even know they want it. ;)

I'm constantly reminding people that time is linear. I never say I can't do it, only that it will take time. I make others tell me explicitly what I should be working on.

Conversations will often run:
Customer: Can you do X?
Me: Sure, but right now I'm working on Y. Would you like me to stop working on Y to work on X? I'll be happy to.
Customer: Um, no. Y is more important. We'll talk about X later.
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#5 no2pencil  Icon User is online

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Re: Programming Work Woes

Posted 30 April 2014 - 08:08 AM

View Postbaavgai, on 30 April 2014 - 10:49 AM, said:

View Posttrixt.er, on 29 April 2014 - 05:19 PM, said:

That and he is constantly changing his requirements on me.

This is common. Most people don't know what they really want up front. They usually get "ideas" after some work is done and they actually have something to look at.

As a contractor, requirement changes (or Scope Creep, as it's commonly referred) resets the contract, or adds an extra expense. As an employee, I actually welcome scope creep. I mean, these guys handle the business side, if they want to change it great. It means that I have more work to do & am more integral to their agenda. But I also make it a point to reflect the effect the adaption will have on the dead line.
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#6 depricated  Icon User is offline

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Re: Programming Work Woes

Posted 30 April 2014 - 01:16 PM

View Posttrixt.er, on 29 April 2014 - 04:19 PM, said:

only official developer on the whole team. There are guys who write up documentation and do book keeping for me but I have to do all the coding

Sounds like you're in exactly the same position I was in a year ago. Not literally, but here was my situation:

I worked for a major financial institution. I was the only developer on my team, though my team didn't even have a developer role. My manager just asked his boss if he could have an extra guy to help him manage automation, and my contract was approved. So there I was, getting level 2 tech support pay for doing development work, but experience is experience right?

It was endlessly frustrating. We had one application, and I was fortunate enough to build it from the ground up. Which means that I got to apply consistent standards to it. Bonus in that I knew where everything was whenever something broke, but it would have been nice to have others muddying up the code that I could have learned more from. At any rate, in addition to doing all the coding for this application, all the design, requirements gathering, prototyping, everything but UAT testing, I had to perform the job functions of the rest of the team too, granted only as backup.

So February comes around, my application has really made a huge impact on the productivity of the team - we've gone from managing 15 accounts to 60. Things are looking good for us. My boss volunteers to take over another process, and fold it into my application. Yea, ok, it's somewhat related, I can make it work. So I start expanding the application to include this new process. Get it up and ready to go two weeks before we're supposed to go live on the new process. We get it tested, but need final approval for some templated information before we can go live. Day 1 of us taking on the new process we still haven't been given approval to use the templates, and we're screwed because the templates we had to use were atrocious, the documentation abysmal. The week goes like that before they take the process away from us and tell us that it's going to a different team. Ok, that's fine. I start rolling back some of the changes I'd made in the application - I had basically just plugged a module in to it so it wasn't particularly difficult to remove.

A month later, new director comes in, immediately hates my team. So he starts finding things wrong to complain about, and started micromanaging our automated process. We couldn't automate any more, everything needed approval. Of course, since we sent out about between 60-240 communications per hour that he needed to approve, he was getting mad at us for the volume we were sending him. Pretty soon we started taking SLA hits because contractually obligated communications were coming late. Of course, we get blamed for this - after all, it's our communication. A few months go by, and once again we're taking over the earlier mentioned process. So I plug the module back in and start it up. A month later, we're informed that the entire team is being laid off and we'll be training the supervisors to do our jobs.

Cool, I guess. I showed the supervisors how to use the tool I built. They liked it, but questioned why our communications were so slow if it was so fast and easy. I just pointed out the new director. "We can't interrupt his lunch/pedicure/eyebrow plucking to get approvals."

My second to last day, I'm running through one of our processes - collecting data from the mainframe - when one of the other bosses sees I have an active connection to the mainframe. He comes over, "hey what are you doing on the mainframe!" I raise an eye and explain. Now, this is something my team had every 2 hours for 3 years. I shit you not, he says, "you guys run reports?" Ya, he didn't even know. "What do you do with those?" So I explained it to him, and he's like "well...we're fucked"

And they are. They lost their 2 biggest customers because no one bothered to check the contract with one of them that resulted in the creation of my team, and the other had services from our team written into their contract. The place is hemorrhaging money from SLA violations, and now cutting staff left and right because they can't afford to keep people on.

Not that I was particularly important to the company - but my team was.

But I got the ultimate revenge on that new director. I smiled at him as I thanked him for working with me, and turned around to get a real programming job. I have one now and I love it.
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#7 trixt.er  Icon User is offline

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Re: Programming Work Woes

Posted 30 April 2014 - 08:46 PM

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Great advice everyone. So tomorrow I'm going to meet with my supervisor and give a full accounting. I have a feeling for what she'll say to me. She'll probably try to give me some words of encouragement and then tell me that I'm doing a great job. I'll ask for another developer as I am the team lead and she'll probably suggest an itern or new hire in the future. The applications I'm developing are huge and require a lot of attention. I'll give you all the details when I come back from work tomorrow. :helpsmilie:/>


You guys aren't going to believe this. As of today I received a promotion from my bosses boss. My boss must have told her that they were in danger of loosing me. This has been the wildest week of my life. :bananaman:

This post has been edited by trixt.er: 01 May 2014 - 05:43 PM

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#8 Michael26  Icon User is offline

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Re: Programming Work Woes

Posted 06 May 2014 - 11:23 AM

Does something like this happen to you at work?

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#9 depricated  Icon User is offline

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Re: Programming Work Woes

Posted 06 May 2014 - 12:25 PM

lol that was my job before...

Hey so yesterday I had a one-on-one with my boss. It was pretty cool actually. I asked what kind of feedback she was getting about me, and apparently my team lead said that I ask really good questions, I'm learning to navigate our code base well, and the code I write is - and I quote - superb. That last made me really happy. The only way I can get objective feedback is from others reviewing my code, right?

I told her I love working there and couldn't be happier with it (to which she laughed that I must have worked in some hell holes - I confirmed). We talked about me going back to school and tuition reimbursement and a host of other less interesting topics. But it felt great. The environment I'm in is just...amazing. The people are genuinely nice, or at least sincere and polite about it. I've never heard the words "can't wait to get out of here" or "day's finally over" - there's the occasional irritated negativity ("oh man, my laptop crashed AGAIN") but none of that deep-seeded cancerous negativity like my last job. It's really cool. I'm so happy with it.

This seemed like the appropriate place to share after my story about my last employer. Hell, today I'm working remotely so my roommate can use my car. I just hit my boss up in the morning and said, "hey my roommate needs my car can I work remote today." "Ya I'm ok with that." I love it so good.

View Posttrixt.er, on 30 April 2014 - 09:46 PM, said:

You guys aren't going to believe this. As of today I received a promotion from my bosses boss. My boss must have told her that they were in danger of loosing me. This has been the wildest week of my life. :bananaman:/>

and huge grats!
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