2

I work for a company where the manager always justifies the shortcomings as "we are a company that happens to develop software, we're not a software development company".

There is the development team, the support team, the implementations team, and the reports team.

  • Development develops what they feel is necessary, and rarely what the clients (corporate or other teams) actually need.

  • Support doesn't know the product and sends tickets to development for things that were already explained, and doesn't "support" on their own.

  • Implementations doesn't know how to implement and asks for help from development or reports.

  • Reports has a boss that feels personally that everything should be addresses by her and exceeds her job description in order to please any whim the client may have.

  • The boss refuses any change and only works so that "teams don't have issues with each other", and we use outdated technology that gets in the way of any change. Mostly any proposal not coming from a "higher up" is dismissed.

  • The product is getting outdated and we're losing customers because of this.

Is there hope for this company? Can I propose anything in a way that would be listened, and not shot down by lack of rank?

closed as too broad by Mister Positive, Fattie, BigMadAndy, Magisch, JakeGould Feb 17 at 5:15

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • I voted to close as opinion based. You seem to have all the facts. Whether you want to work there is really up to you. We have no crystal ball, we cannot possibly know if the company will be successful. – nvoigt Feb 13 at 15:14
  • @nvoigt this is not opinion based. ITIL was created specifically to combat situations like this, tons of books and articles have been written and it is clearly answerable. – Retired Codger Feb 13 at 17:53
  • @hjf Having a bit of a deleted comment issue. I can't help you in the way SE likes. I think is more a discussion to be handled in a chat (I have no idea how to start one of those) but I'll say I totally understand your situation and wish the answer wasn't so hopeless – Trevor D Feb 13 at 18:00
4

If you are in the position to suggest the ITIL or any other process improvement methodologies, I would suggest you do this immediately.

Your company seems to be suffering from what is known as the SILO MENTALITY The linked article addresses it.

The problem is that everyone is concerned with their group, and nobody else's. I had a manager once who said "Don't just throw stuff over the wall", and that's exactly what is happening in your company.

Even if you are not personally in the position to affect change, you may want to read up on the subject and bring your educated opinion to someone who can.

  • Nice answer. It actually describes a lot of what's going on. I think if you click the "edit" button you'll see my original post which I had to cut because the sheer length of it was causing my question to be downvoted to oblivion. You'll see the problems I identified and the solutions I could provide from my position. – hjf Feb 13 at 17:37
  • @hjf I was one of the people who voted to reopen. Sometimes less is more, esp in the workplace. – Retired Codger Feb 13 at 17:51
  • 2
    (Comment edited) I strongly agree with your answer. A quick example. You can create solid silos by just tracking peoples time closely. When someone has to track how much time the spend talking to someone else, you actively discourage collaboration and information sharing. That one minor thing alone can cause a spiral of silos regardless of how perfectly followed the advice in the article is. Changing a companies culture is really complicated. – Trevor D Feb 13 at 18:05
  • While I agree that ITIL might solve the problem of the company, the OPs problem is that their suggestions don't get taken into account. How realistic is an answer that says "oh sure, just suggest to do ITIL then"? – nvoigt Feb 13 at 19:41
  • @nvoigt ITIL is an answer, not necessarily the opnly answer, and, as you know, our answers are to apply to problems in general, and we cannot know if he will be heeded or not. We do not close questions due to the apparent hopelessness of a situation. and, as I said, this problem occurs so frequently in the business world that it is well worth addressing – Retired Codger Feb 13 at 20:03
3

Sounds like the company is in a late stage of silo failure. Where leadership knows everything is failing, and spend most of their time trying to cover their own butts from the inevitable fallout.

"we are a company that happens to develop software, we're not a software development company".

This is frequently the sort of thing used to justify a freeze in spending. A sure sign of current problems. Often this is preceded by a change in ownership of the company and the new owners not understanding what they acquired.

Imagine if you will, 2 car dealership.

The first sells SUVs exclusively and makes huge money on very little effort.

The second sells compact cars, light trucks, and other niche markets. They do this by designing software the allows these cars to be self driving. This software is their selling strategy and is given away to anyone that purchases the vehicle.

Now some rich investment company buys both dealerships. Then looks at both. Both make the same profit, but company 2 has huge expenses. It makes no sense, they both sell vehicles, so why does company 2 cost so much more?

Soon a decision is made, company 2 leadership is instructed to cut expenses. The leadership does their best to explain the different business model but it just doesn't get through. The investment company sees a dealership, not a software company.

Pressure from above trickles down until:

Development develops what they feel is necessary, and rarely what the clients (corporate or other teams) actually need.

Developing exactly what was asked, without checking anything because no time can be wasted. Speed, quality, cost. You can't have all 3, quality usually plummets.

Support doesn't know the product and sends tickets to development for things that were already explained, and doesn't "support" on their own.

Support is a revolving door by this point. All tribal knowledge has been lost.

Implementations doesn't know how to implement and asks for help from development or reports.

Same reason, tribal knowledge was lost and nothing was documented.

Reports has a boss that feels personally that everything should be addresses by her and exceeds her job description in order to please any whim the client may have.

This is a prime butt covering example. This boss is making sure they and their team aren't blamed for the inevitable failure.

The boss refuses any change and only works so that "teams don't have issues with each other", and we use outdated technology that gets in the way of any change. Mostly any proposal not coming from a "higher up" is dismissed.

Time costs money, and expenses have been cut. This is maintenance mode now. This one point is why you should leave that place immediately. You are out-dating yourself and will make it much harder to find another job. It's worth losing your severance to avoid spending a year or more in school to catch up.

The product is getting outdated and we're losing customers because of this.

This won't bite the company until there is a solid competitor, by then it will be too late.

The short answer, there is no hope for the company. Culture gone this far can't be fixed without a complete change of everyone higher than middle management. It's very unlikely that will ever happen, and you shouldn't pigeon hole yourself while waiting for it.

  • I forgot to mention a key piece of information: The company was bought by a spanish company, first head to roll was the development chief manager. We had 2 products. One of them was doomed to fail and I saw it the day I joined this company. The product manager sadly died and after that the project lost track, and was canceled after only a few months. 2 weeks later the "managers' manager" quit. Now the remaining head is the boss (won't be promoted said spain). – hjf Feb 13 at 18:39
  • Compensation, though, is about 1 year's worth of salary. Hard to walk away from that... – hjf Feb 13 at 18:40
  • 1
    @hjf You'll lose most of that to taxes and however long it takes to find a new job after your skills are out-dated. My father had good advice for this. Money comes and goes, it loses value as you get older. Your time is yours only once, it only goes, and it gets more valuable as you get older. So you have to decide, do you want to be happy but with less money, or be miserable but have more money? – Trevor D Feb 13 at 18:43
  • @hjf When I left the company that I swear is the twin to yours. I took a pay cut because I found a company willing to train me to get me up to date again. The pay cut was worth it. I am far happier now. If someone said to you "for a years worth of pay, I can make you happy for a decade" would you do it? – Trevor D Feb 13 at 18:47
  • 2
    @hjf It should be telling that I guessed the new owners based on the little information you gave. Richard and I have both been in this situation. Learn from us. The grass really is greener on the other side, or in the worst case, it's another shade of brown. – Trevor D Feb 13 at 20:14
1

Have you considered that you misunderstand your position in the company?

You seem to be hired as a fairly junior code monkey (no offense) without any lead or design responsibilities.

Now it is good and usually welcome to offer suggestions and improvements but once they were rejected you should leave it at that.

Furthermore, suggesting changes to the work of another department is way overstepping your responsibilities, unless you made out a clear error or have a sensational improvement on offer.

We all have to accept that we would run our company, even department very differently but can't change how others run theirs.

Just do the tasks you're assigned, voice concerns and make suggestions where you think in the grander scheme it would be an improvement and accept your superiors decisions even if you don't agree.

Don't try to fix everything you see is not working to its optimum.

Pick your battles and keep your position and experience in mind, others certainly will when considering your proposals.

Oh and yes, please shorten your TL;DR question.

  • 2
    Yeah I was hired as a junior code monkey (I was actually told that). But after 3 years in the company and a couple of proposals that were accepted (out of dozens), I would think that I may be upgraded to senior code monkey. I'm always the first one they call when they have an unsolvable problem (because I get things fixed), but the proposals I make are rarely implemented. – hjf Feb 13 at 15:45
  • @hjf ah, unfortunately that's not always how things go.Most probably they still see you as that junior from 3 years ago. Besides, 3 years won't give you a senior position ! You'll be lucky to become a mid level coder (unless you're some wizard, in which case your proposals would have had better reception,so... ) If you want to advance in position you need to ask for a promotion,potentially with an increased salary(careful,might get rejected because of this) or find a new position elsewhere that reflects your current level of experience. – DigitalBlade969 Feb 13 at 16:01
  • Actually I think it's a matter of location. We're a satellite team 800km away. At one point we were 18 people working here,only 3 of us remain here after layoffs (with the staff mostly untouched at the central office). I wish they would just fire me (and cash compensation), but they seem to want me around. People at central office have been promoted. Even a person with less than 1 year experience was greenlighted to a project he proposed and given his own team. Another person had unlimited budget for an idea (then quit and I inherited his mess). I became jaded after that and stopped bothering. – hjf Feb 13 at 17:32
  • 2
    @hjf Watch out you don't end up in the banishment room instead. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banishment_room – Trevor D Feb 13 at 18:09
  • @hjf oh Trevor D has an excllent point there. Your office might be made redundant in the near future. Time to dust up that CV... – DigitalBlade969 Feb 13 at 21:41
0

I lived a version of this. Business thought IT did nothing. IT couldn’t get an answer from business. Software vendor was suing the support vendor. Thanks heavily to my manager, we went from finger pointing to partnering. In our scenario the mechanics were as much about laying out boundaries—not to silo but to allow teams to do their own roles—and communication.

Whatever your dynamics, change is usually tough. How you present suggestions is often going to have more impact than their actual content. Put yourself in the audience’s position. Developers do a poor job of passing information to support. Reporting is the only group who face the customer. Customers have no idea how the system really should work. Whatever the reality, if these kinds of perceptions are what each person thinks, that’s a bigger battle than anything else.

I’d suggest quietly documenting scenarios—not to throw in faces, but to build a story. Rehearse it as a case study, not a complaint. When the opportunity comes to talk with your boss or whomever, be passionate about the good you want it to do and dispassionate about the individual scenarios. Use them only as a tool from which to learn.

When you’re personally involved in an issue, go out of your way to make sure the ongoing issue is also addressed. Meet “this doesn’t work” with “Let’s take a look.” Instead of throwing an email over the wall with the steps, engage the support person to work through it with you or maybe work through the later parts. Get them involved in understanding why X fixes Y, not just what the steps are. More than any specific solution or new methodology, buy in will make or break the outcome.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.