I'm a working student in a software department and currently working on a project that was a final paper from another student. The given requirements for further development are hard for me to implement because of poor documentation and code. Furthermore the student who worked this out isn't available anymore, so there's no one I can talk about details. Additionally, there is no time for refactoring, which is significantly needed. The given code is the major problem. The result is I'm always behind the schedule. My boss knows the problems I have because of my feedback.

How can I ask for some support to get the project done in time? The implementation of some requirements are very time consuming. But I would like to avoid that my boss gets the wrong impression from my question and gets a wrong opinion about my skills and effort and the student who has done that job before.

This is no rant about my situation. I just wanna know how to ask correctly in a situation like this if I am working as an employee who needs some backup and doesn't want to lose face in front of the colleagues and the boss.

Edited because this isn't my current final paper. Before that, it wasn't clear.

  • 2
    When you say "support" what exactly are you wanting here: More time, additional hands, reduced scope? While I can understand all 3 possibly being wanted you aren't being specific here other than implying, "This isn't possible," which I'm not sure I agree with that assessment.
    – JB King
    Commented May 23, 2013 at 17:40
  • Additional hands would be the best solution for this IMO. Commented May 23, 2013 at 17:44
  • 2
    This is a school project or workplace project? Commented May 23, 2013 at 18:49
  • This is a workplace project independent from university. Commented May 23, 2013 at 20:43
  • Why was this question down voted? Commented May 23, 2013 at 20:45

1 Answer 1


I'd consider writing up an explanation of why what you are being asked to do will take much longer than was initially requested and how additional hands would assist you in being able to provide the best outcome. The key here isn't to blame anyone but rather illustrate why you have the need for specific kinds of people to get things done. You are wanting to bring in X people for Y time to get this done by Z date is the kind of idea here though I would be careful about how optimistic you are with various assumptions as new people will have to be ramped-up that would be part of the estimates along with remembering from the Mythical Man Month that 9 women can't make a baby in a month.

This kind of proposal should be set up in a concise manner with several figures and supporting evidence with a follow-up meeting to discuss questions, concerns and next steps to this.

While you can claim" that "refactor is significantly needed" how well could you back up that claim in terms that the company can understand? Chances are it has been put off for a while and in theory that could continue or do you see something magically coming down to say, "No, the development will stop at this point until we can refactor this!" that I'm not sure I've seen cases where that has worked. I have heard stories of people inheriting code bases and having to make it work which isn't always simple or easy but it got done in some fashion.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .