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I am in a management position where my role is to coordinate and assemble the first hand manual research and analysis of raw data by junior business analysts, which I have to give to my direct technical boss who uses his self-made software to produce analytic reports (He used to be in my position, but moved to spend more time programming). I then have to deliver his output to our senior department boss.

While I get my initial part done early, my technical boss often disregards my deadlines and sometimes does not let me know if there are bugs in his software. My technical boss creates bespoke software for other departments in the company as well, so he always has multiple deadlines to juggle.

In any case, I often get scolded for this by our senior department boss. I tried to respectfully hint at the fact that the delay was with the technical boss, once even brought both of them in a meeting. But the technical boss made it sound as if it was my fault for not having communicated the deadlines more aggressively (which is a lie).

I would seriously like to know how to behave in this situation.

Thank you

EDIT: I think a detail of my question was not clear. The deadlines are known across the company and I communicate what needs to be done publicly. The deadlines are "cyclical", i.e. "every Friday we need to deliver X". My technical boss knows this already, as does every single person across the entire company. What my technical boss said exactly was more like:"Well, I know we have to deliver X every Friday, but I didn't understand if this particular Friday was as much important as the other projects I am working on. Had BigHeadache told me so, I would have put aside the other projects and focused on X". However, X is always the most important deadline because it's what drives our business.

I think nobody had bad intentions, however, my senior department boss is not entirely aware that the final process doesn't depend 100% on me.

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    "once even brought both of them in a meeting" Was there agreement of what would be discussed? I suggest you try again with the mutually agreed goal "How do we get this working?" without blaming anyone. – user8036 Oct 17 '13 at 10:10
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    Whether or not you have communicated technical deadlines clearly doesn't matter if everyone else doesn't think you have. – enderland Oct 17 '13 at 10:38
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    Do you have any system for tracking deadlines? That would make thing much easier. – superM Oct 17 '13 at 11:45
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But the technical boss made it sound as if it was my fault for not having communicated the deadlines more aggressively (which is a lie).

This means you cannot only communicate the deadline to your technical boss. Make sure to include the senior department boss informed about your project deadlines, whether through simple status updates or FYI types of communication. Email CC's can work but be very careful to avoid "going over his head" problems with this and see the last part of this answer first.

But... this is barely 1/2 your problem.

While I get my initial part done early, my technical boss often disregards my deadlines and sometimes does not let me know if there are bugs in his software.

First, it's unlikely he is blatantly disregarding your deadlines. It's more likely your technical boss has conflicting priorities and your project is not what HE is being pressured to complete.

Second, when you communicate to your technical boss requesting help, include clear deadlines and the effects inaction has. For example, rather than saying, "Can you get back to me as soon as possible?" say something like:

  • "In order to meet our project deadline of November 1, my team will need to hear back from you by October 25 to give us enough time to complete the next steps. Let me know if this is going to be a problem."

or similar language. However you word it, make sure you:

  • Make it clear what the effect of him not getting back to you is, for example deadlines being not met
  • Don't say "do this or we will be delayed and FAIL" or other black/white outcomes. There are times when projects take higher priority than others. As long as your technical/senior bosses understand this, it is not necessarily a problem - by requiring the technical boss to give justification for why if there are delays you put that responsibility on him (rightly). This is why managers should prioritize projects. The problem is when this communication does not happen and projects slip for no meaningful reason without a discussion about priorities.
  • Keep in mind your technical boss will not react well to you "throwing him under the bus" no matter whether or not he is to blame

Third, talk with your technical boss asking how he would like to have deadlines communicated. Come from the, "I want to help avoid problems like this in the future, how do you want me to communicate deadlines? I'm planning on being more explicit and CC'ing the Sr. Boss to help get everyone on the same page?" - it IS partially your responsibility to be more clear. Take ownership of this.

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Your answer is in your question: You communicate the deadlines more aggressively. If your technical boss complains, then explain that you're just doing what he asked you to do. It will also help to suggest that you'll get on his case less if he got the stuff done that you need to be done.

The practical matter is that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and when the technical boss has to cater to a lot of stakeholders you'll need to fight with them for time.

  • The squeaky wheel gets the grease, unless it's too squeaky, then it gets replaced. Not disagreeing with you; just adding a caveat. +1 – Aaron Jun 8 '17 at 15:16
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Maybe the workflow should be overhauled - I don't see the need that you should hand over you bosses work to someone else, and take responsibility for the delivery date, as you are not in a position to force him to keep the deadline.

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