I work at an "all-round" IT company that is focused on providing hardware and software infrastructure. I am the sole web developer, as such, I deal with everything on this front on my own. I do not, however, make business decisions, work is passed to me by the owner (who basically is a technical manager) or the office manager (for lack of a better title).

Now, I'm working on a project which has been assigned to a co-worker who habitually avoided work (and has now left) for maybe half a year or longer. The problem is that this project involves migrating data from a very old content management system to a new one, and put a new (already purchased) design template on it. I've done that, kind of - but it's very frail and trying to use it is, frankly, terrible. Bugs are everywhere, things don't work as they should at all but look fixable from the surface.

Usually when I go to the owner with issues like this, he tries to prioritize fixing something, anything, and presenting that to a client. No matter how broken everything is under the hood and how much work there still is to do. He is very persuasive and dismissive with this, and oftentimes, nothing is really resolved. In this case I'm not even sure there is a way at all to complete it and get anywhere.

I want to make clear to the owner how big and far-reaching these problems are and that we need a major change in strategy to make this work.

Desirable outcomes include but are not limited to

1) our company ditching the project entirely as it escapes our scope and capabilities

2) finding a new, different solution for our customer, ditching the purchased template

Be noted, I work remotely.

  • it's taken you six months to work out that you can't do it properly? – Kilisi Aug 10 '18 at 12:02
  • @Kilisi The six months were on my co-worker who barely worked on the project during that time, and didn't really care about whether things worked or not in the end. – Jane Wells Aug 10 '18 at 12:06

Produce a list with money values.

The list must include all the issues you already found and may have a solution: quote the solution for each issue in current money and with a grain of salt. Put absurd values here just to get traction and you will lose credibility.

Include foreseeable issues and quote a possible solution for these also.

Add then your guesses (not wild ones please) and give a ballpark figure for the impact of these.

Then write all this to your boss and the manager.

If you get there your work is done: it is not your role to take business decision but you must provide factual data to the stakeholders.

You may want to give a refresh to your CV, should the picture or the outcome be really unpleasant.


Don't show your manager, what parts of the software work, but show him the parts that don't work. Show him the bugs, bad usability and ergonomics. Give him the big picture of how bad the current software is.

Put yourself in the perspective of the customer and present the risks for the company:

If I were the customer and saw this amount of bugs, I wouldn't trust any other software the same company sells.
The user experience is worse than in Windows 95. Do you really expect a customer to buy any more of our software after they experienced this? If word spreads around, it will discourage other people from buying our products as well.

Then give the best estimations you can on how much time you need to improve the quality of the current software to acceptable levels. Juxtapose with estimations for a completely new solution.

In the end, your manager(s) make the decisions and it wouldn't be the first time a company decides to knowingly sell bad software.


If your organisation use risk registers, these should already be logged, if not it could be added to the risk register and assessed appropriately which will then at least provide exposure.

Any potential resolutions to the issues could be in response to the risk/issue which will enable you to quantify the issue, rate the severity and probability, assess the likelihood of it occurring and what the impact would be.

Usually Senior management would want to be well-informed in organisational risks, if Senior Management are made aware I'm sure the relevant stakeholders will understand the severity of it.

2) finding a new, different solution for our customer, ditching the purchased template

Responding to risks will also involve a mitigation plan which will allow alternative solutions to be discussed and reviewed.

From my experience in the IT industry, buy-in for Risk Management has been low, but has been one of the most effective methods for getting the point across that things aren't working. I’d read something that had discussed making risk management effective which could be applied to your problem;

  • Integrate risk management into decision making
  • Build a strong culture for Risk Managemnt
  • Disclosing information on risks/potential risks
  • Continous improvement

The key to issues like this is to work out a viable solution and present it to your boss. Giving him an overview of problems however detailed will just keep status quo.

So saying 'this is $#@% and we can't keep doing it' is not what he wants to hear, he'll just keep milking the project as long as he can. That's business for you.

But saying 'this is ^%$#@, what we need to do is... outline steps and resolution strategy..... and it will cost... timeframe is....etc,. Gives him something to invest in.

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