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This week I joined a new contract. There had been issues relating to making the developer environment ready but I been told to assess the website code and report/advise. But since I am a front-end developer and the website isn't running I cannot see what is what and cannot advise/build a report on it. Meanwhile I have been asked daily for the report and I say to them that the team is working on fixing the issue about making it work but I still cannot see the website.

On the other hand, I am sitting idle. Which isn't what companies like to pay for when hiring a contractor.

How can I update the CTO that these things should be done before a new hire so they can get on with understanding and working without raising eyebrows that 3 days into new role and he is telling us our issues?

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    Do you not have access to the code repository? maybe they don't need to see any advice, but want you to go though the code to try and understand some of it? – Sourav Ghosh Feb 4 at 11:52
  • @SouravGhosh I do but I need to see the visual (front end) to make assumption that I m commenting/reviewing right thing – localhost Feb 4 at 11:53
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    Well, there are things which can be reviewed without a visual, example - coding standard and convention, security practices, library usage etc. Are you only eyeing for UI/UX reviews? – Sourav Ghosh Feb 4 at 11:55
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    Your "problem is no problem". Could there be a language issue or such? The phrase "assess the code" means "get a copy of the source files (files such as xyz.js, etc), read the source files, and write down your opinion on them" – Fattie Feb 4 at 13:29
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    Can't you run the website on your localhost @localhost – AEonAX Feb 5 at 5:06
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You can do two things:

  1. There are certain things which can be reviewed without seeing the code in action. This includes coding standards, coding conventions and best practices, security policies and principals, usage of (third-party) libraries etc. Go through the codebase and provide your comments. Suggest improvements if you see the scope. You can also suggest some optimization, if you can find the bottlenecks with bare eyes (i.e., without running the codes).

  2. Keep them informed that the review activity is getting hindered because of the delay in having the dev access setup. Also, ask if you can carry out some other product learning / induction related activities in the meantime which will help you to get up to the speed.

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Informing the company

How can I update the CTO that these things should be done before a new hire so they can get on with understanding and working without raising eyebrows that 3 days into new role and he is telling us our issues?

You already are:

Meanwhile I have been asked daily for the report and I say to them that the team is working on fixing the issue about making it work but I still cannot see the website.

You are reporting on the existence of the problem on a daily basis. The company has all the information it needs to understand the problem.

If you were to start telling them what you just asked us about, i.e. "you should do it [this way]", that's overstepping a boundary. You're not in a position to tell the company what they should do. Regardless of you being right or not, you're likely going to be ignored before people even parse what you are saying, and it may even damage your reputation about how to see yourself working in this company (i.e. calling the shots).

But what you can do, is explain to them what issues you've been facing, so the company can come to its own conclusion and realize "huh, we should do it [this way]". This is the safest way in terms of not coming across as wanting to call the shots. Let them find their own answer.

Note that there are middle ground approaches here. Maybe the company asks if you have a suggested solution. Maybe the company is open to you offering a suggestion, if not built on the presumption that the company has to heed it. That's contextual, and very much depends on the workplace culture.


Let the company decide its own solution

You need to keep in mind that your proposed solution isn't even the only reasonable approach.

  • Maybe your case is exceptional, and the company rather pays you to sit on your hands for a week instead of paying the cost to overhaul an entire onboarding process to prevent a rare circumstance.
  • Maybe the team that should be fixing your issue is horribly underperforming, and maybe that is the more pertinent issue to address here.
  • Maybe the team's underperformance is unavoidable (temporarily or not), and therefore it would help to do this in advance
  • Maybe the dev team has made the website unnecessarily contrived to get everything up and running, and the company should look at making its resources more easily accessible.

These are all valid solutions, and there's probably others I haven't even thought of.

This is exactly why you need to be very careful about telling someone what "the" solution is, or what they should do. There may be plenty of considerations you're not aware of.


Cover your ass

As a consultant, I often deal with situations where a job I'm hired for is being blocked or slowed down due to some decision that I have no say over.

To use a concrete example, the client I work for has put off writing and implementing a testing suite for a specific module I've been hired to work on. Note that this isn't a bad practice workplace, it's just a very small module on the scale of a company that is innovating across the board. The reason they have put this off is well understandable, it just happens to impact me.

I can keep working, but sometimes hit massive delays because trivial issues have not been caught by the testing strategy that does not exist.

Every time this happens, I speak to the PM. Not to complain, or tell them that they have to build this test suite. I simply let them know that the same problem arose again, and it cost X time extra.

It is up to the company to decide whether they're okay with the lost time. It's not up to me to decide whether the company should invest in the test suite or whether they should be okay with the occasional delay.

But in either case, my ass is covered. If the company tomorrow complains that I haven't delivered my tasks on time, I can point at the issue, and if they would accuse me of making excuses, I can show them a long history of communication with the PM indicating that this issue exists, and the PM telling me that they sympathise with my position but cannot currently help fix the blocking issue.

And that's sort of where it ends. If the company is happy paying for the hours I end up wasting on a preventable issue that the company doesn't try to prevent, then I'm getting paid anyway so I don't need to make a fuss about it.

Your case is just the same. Whether the company is okay or not with you sitting on your hands, is not your call to make. They've been adequately informed, and the decision is theirs.

If you're worried you sitting on your hands is coming across as you being lazy, then make sure the company is informed that you're eager to get started and that the blocking issue is beyond your control. But don't overstep the boundary in trying to fix the company's problem for them (unless it's well within scope for your own work responsibilities of course).

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  • Good answr. I had to delete a para from my email for review and access of current structure and highlight any suggestions and improvements. but u said I will be paying offense and they will be defense? so how can I put it then – localhost Feb 5 at 11:44
  • @localhost: Not quite understanding your comment. If they're asking for suggestions and improvements, then you're free to give them. That being said, some people speak freely when given the option, whereas others tend to still make sure not to risk stepping on any toes. That's a personal decision on how you interact with people. – Flater Feb 5 at 11:46
  • so my email is going like this problem: I see the structure is too complex. it shouldn't be since we r on new infrastructure. we should learn from the pain of the past. solution: if x is not using DB access, I want to see the new infrastructure a separate repo so when a new hire comes, they don't take resource which is already on deadline or busy. I wrote such because they asked for review of current structure and highlight any suggestions. do u think it is overstepping? – localhost Feb 5 at 11:58
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    @localhost: Giving someone what they literally ask for is by definition not overstepping. – Flater Feb 5 at 12:08
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I been asked daily for the report and I say them the team is working on fixing the issue about making it work but I cannot see the website.

This is all you can do. Refer them to the team who's job is creating the issue and ask for any suggestions on what you can do in the meantime.

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  • They asked me to go through repo and suggest/review and get urself familiar but also they want to ask how is it going or if I m doing the review. I prefer more direct way as a UI developer, seeing things in action n reviewing. coding review without visual is new for me – localhost Feb 4 at 12:53
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    It's a new job, expect new things – Kilisi Feb 4 at 13:17

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