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I handle all of the internal IT at the company I work for. For several years, I have been trying to get some new servers purchased to replace some failing server. Several months ago, after repeated attempts to get my manager to take some sort of action on this matter, I sent an email to my manager summarizing everything. I warned my manager regarding the probable and imminent failure of one of our servers. I also noted that the remaining servers were all over five years old. I also asked him if he had a remediation strategy in mind, such as purchasing new equipment. My main goal with this email was to have something in writing documenting the issue.

After I wrote the email, my manager did respond to me, however, it was a verbal response and he was sarcastic about it, basically to indicate that he disagreed with what I said.

The failure that I warned about finally happened, and it caused most of the company to not be able to work. As the one who has to work to resolve this issues, this caused me to be put in the limelight and I am struggling to explain to people that I had no control over the age of the equipment.

I feel that I need to provide upper management with the documentation showing that I tried to address this issue in the past, however, I'm not sure what the appropriate way is to go about doing this. In this type of situation should my goal be to protect myself, or should I try to establish that my manager has acted negligently?

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    should my goal be to... with all due respect, I think you need to figure out your own goals. Then maybe we can help you get there. At any rate, "protect myself" and "establish that my manager has acted negligently" may or may not actually be mutually exclusive. You mention you're being put in the limelight. Is this a problem because it's simply uncomfortable? Or do you fear some specific action (because people may assume this is your fault)? – dwizum Jul 16 at 16:51
  • In this situation, there have already been attempts to place blame on me. That is not so much of a concern to me unless it's coming from upper management. – it-guy Jul 16 at 17:12
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    "I feel that I need to provide upper management with the documentation showing that I tried to address this issue in the past, however, I'm not sure what the appropriate way is to go about doing this." When they ask why did this happen, forward the email you sent to your manager. – sf02 Jul 16 at 17:18
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Whenever you are in a situation where sh*t has hit the fan and people are asking questions, just be factual. When they ask what happened, say that the server failed. When they ask if you knew it was going to fail, say yes. When they ask if you did anything to prevent it, say yes. When they ask what you did to prevent it, show your papertrail/suggestions, show your followup emails, and show that you brought it up for a long time with no approval through proper channels. Explain that there are still other vulnerable servers, you have a remediation plan, and you would like to get started on it ASAP. The next questions from management will most likely be to your boss as to why he/she didn't address the issues.

You don't need to throw anyone under the bus, show negligence, or any other theatrics. If you are not at fault, did your best to prevent a catastrophe, and have the proof, present all of that in a neutral, factual manner.

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Do you have a copy of that email? Be ready to produce it. I wouldn't go running to upper management with it, but if asked, you need to be able to show that you warned your manager about it.

If asked, admit openly that you knew hardware was a possible issue, and you warned management of it some time ago.

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Unless you're being directly blamed or have the direct responsibility for the failure, it doesn't make sense to draw a target on your back making upper management aware of your boss' ignorance. This can easily be misconstrued in a variety of ways that would make you a malcontent even if you were 100% correct. In my experience, it's always been a good thing to document my actions, suggestions, and rationale but also to let the next guy in the chain of command make the decisions. If he fails, it falls in his lap and not yours.

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