1

So this is "hypothetical" in the sense that it isn't a situation actually occurring right now, it's in the past and not 'emergent'. But I've been wondering about it for a few years and thought it could make a good Q&A entry.

My peer 'Anne' an Analyst Programmer is tasked with writing code and I'm a Business Analyst (but I have a background knowledge with IT, programming, databases etc but I'm not employed to do that -- I deal mostly with requirements, users etc).

We encountered a particular case where Anne doesn't know how to do this particular thing, she has raised it to the technical group but there will be a long lead time, etc etc. I knew how to solve this because of my past (not at this company) knowledge. So I wrote up, tested and gave to Anne the "solution" for how to do this task. It works, everyone gets the results they want, goes about their business, happy days!

Then much later, like after a year or so ... settings get changed in the environment where that fix is, so that it doesn't work any more. So it needs to be changed a bit. Anne raises it to the technical group, it gets put on their backlog, etc. But now we have a client facing deadline. So I suggest a fix, which is "quick and dirty" but not actually a hack, it's a legitimate solution but 'ideally' we would fix it another way. I know that but we have a deadline to meet.

Boss replies over email to the group essentially telling me to "get back to basics" and as a BA I get requirements etc etc and don't deal with code, programming, etc.

I wrote this code in the first place, even if I am "only a BA" because no one else was able to fix it. Now the boss is telling me to stay in my own lane.

Questions:

  • is the boss right? (in content and in 'scolding' me in public?)

  • how to respond?

  • should I have taken the initiative in the first place or just let them struggle? (the reasons I did was 1. I like to share knowledge where I can and 2. I want to the job done for my own job security!)

  • Perhaps the boss sees your time as more valuable not less and would rather have you doing creative product building analysis rather than grunt work coding. – JonSG Feb 7 at 23:03
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    No good turn goes unpunished – Dave Gremlin Feb 8 at 11:09
8

What you did was not inherently wrong. I don't think your boss should have scolded you, and certainly not in public. The reaction you get to things like this is very dependent on company culture. In some companies you would be praised for what you did.

I can, however, think of a few reasons off the top of my head why someone might have been displeased.

  • The solution you implemented may be difficult for the technical group to maintain. For example, you might not have used the same tools and techniques they use, or you implemented a "clever" solution rather than a straightforward one.

  • Your boss may worry that you will have to maintain this solution for the technical group in the future, so you will no longer be working for him or her full-time.

  • Your boss might have been worried that you were neglecting your own work, or would start to neglect it to work on other, more fun stuff.

  • Someone in the technical group may have felt you were making them look bad, and complained to your boss that you should stay off of their turf.

  • There might be a history of issues with the technical group's backlog. Perhaps they've been understaffed or underskilled for some time, and your boss has been trying to get someone to solve the problem. By providing your solution, you may have made it easier for someone to continue to ignore the problem instead of fixing it.

  • Perhaps competition for staff is fierce, and your boss has found it necessary to hold tight to people to avoid losing them.

  • Perhaps the technical team was so pleased with what you did, that their boss went straight to your boss and requested that you be transferred.

Some of these concerns are more valid than others, of course. But in general, before you do something outside your role, you should clear it with your boss first (unless you know that he or she will be OK with it).

As I said, I don't think your boss should have scolded you. At worst, he should have explained his issue with your action, and advised you on how to handle these things in future.

4

The answer to all three of your questions is 'Shrug it off'. Take it as a heads up and desist from helping in that manner in future. Further analysis is pointless.

You did nothing wrong trying to help, yet got scolded for it, you learnt a workplace lesson. In future let them know you have seen a problem before and solved it, and let them ask you for the solution rather than handing it over unasked. It's as simple as saying.

'I saw this exact problem at my last job, I still remember how we solved it, let me know if you'd like an assist.'

This way you get both implicit permission to fix it, a paper trail, and recognition for your effort.

1

I would say your Boss is doing the right thing ensuring that the proper process is being followed, rather than having people step over the boundaries of their roles to perform a quick fix. If the work you are working on is important and there is an upcoming deadline, then you will need to get it prioritized with the Technical Team. You raise the issue to your manager, get them to talk to the manager of the Technical Team and get it re prioritized. If this doesn't happen, then inform your manager again, emphasizing that there is an upcoming deadline which you will miss unless this work is done.

There are a couple of potential issues with you stepping in to perform a task your not meant to do.

A ) while performing this work, you are no longer performing the work you have been assigned. If you don't have enough work in the first place, then you should be asking for more work. If there really is nothing to do, you should message you boss first and ask them if it is okay for you to go ahead and try and fix the problem.

B ) The code you write has no person responsible for it except for you. If you were to leave, Anne will be unable to change or modify it anyway since she doesn't know how it works. It will fall on the technical group to make the fix, and depending on the complexity and quality of the code, it could result in more work for them ( since they have no documentation themselves ). If something were to go wrong with it and they need a quick fix, no one who should fix it can take responsibility because they didn't perform the action. You did.

C ) The code you write may not conform to the business standards or be properly tested. While we don't know how complex or simple this code is, that is a possible risk. It also prevents Anne from learning how to create the code herself since you have essentially done that part of the job for her, and she know may not have the extra time to understand what you did and why you did everything since the project is still ongoing.

Rather than completing the code by yourself and giving it to Anne. You should of worked along side her and let her do the main part of the development. This is pointing out that maybe she could use this method, or call this function to perform the actions required. That way she is doing her job, can claim responsibility for it and the project gets completed. It she refuses this isn't your problem. It could indicate that the code is too complicated, its the responsibility of a different team or maybe she doesn't have the time in the first place.

Anything that needs to be done quickly by another team should be escalated through the appropriate channels, via your manager, their manager, the client or your managers manager, etc. If nothing happens, then your company has essentially said that the piece of work isn't important compared to other tasks.

I would respond by asking your Boss if Anne can be trained or upskilled by the technical team so that she could resolve this problem herself, rather than relying on the technical team. This work isn't your responsibility to perform, fix or maintain. You should be communicating any problems and their cause to your boss/client to highlight this and get it fixed quickly.

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    Would caution the author about asking if Anne could be trained, sounds exactly what somebody “outside their lane would say”, the author is a Business Analysts not Anne’s supervisor nor trainer and should allow their supervisor worry about Anne’s training (provided they are also Anne’s supervisor) – Ramhound Feb 8 at 6:03

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