(names have been replaced)
I work as a software developer at company X. In my team, we have testers and other engineers. Recently a request has come in from the business, to implement some changes to our system. The requirements have been provided by business rep Stacey. This request has been floating about for about a year, so requirements have changed in this time. Our tester, Ellie, has got in contact with Barry, a business representative, to clarify some requirements. Ellie found that there was a difference between the requirements Barry sent and the most up-to-date requirements Stacey sent, so she emailed Stacey for some clarification. Ellie included the requirements Barry sent her in this email to Stacey. The issue was, in Ellie's email, it wasn't very clear where the requirements came from and what exactly she was asking from Stacey.
Stacey was a little confused by this email, as it contained out-dated requirements. Stacey contacted me directly, to make sure the changes we are planning on implementing into our system are correct. Stacey also forwarded me the email chain between Barry, Ellie and Stacey. I had a chat with Ellie to understand where the requirements she forwarded to Stacey came from, she said it came from Barry. Ellie also said during the chat, that it's not up to us to resolve this matter and that Stacey and Barry must come to an agreement between themselves.
To make sure everyone was on the same page, I wrote an email to Barry and Stacey and CC'd Ellie. The email was sent to ask for clarification from Barry about the out-of-date requirements, basically asking him if we can disregard the requirements he (Barry) sent, in favor of the new requirements Stacey has proposed. There was some back and forward between Stacey and Barry and finally an agreement was made and we could use the requirements Stacey proposed.
All fine and dandy? Or, so I thought. The next day I receive an angry message from Ellie. Ellie asked that I contact her first, to consult her before emailing her resources. Ellie stated she did not understand the benefit of my email. I messaged back, asking to voice-chat (we work remotely). She kept stating the same kind of thing, upset that I didn't consult her first. I kept replying with "Let's have chat, let me know when you're available". She finally said that she didn't want to voice-chat with me and that we could just chat in text. I didn't want to do this, because I find text chat hard when dealing with any disagreements - for me it's much better to chat in person for 10 minutes and clear the air.
Just a little bit of context, these aren't Ellie's resources - they are available for anyone working at company X. I have been in communication with these business reps before and during this time.
I wrote to Ellie asking if she was denying me a voice-chat, she said yes. I said I would escalate this matter if she cannot voice-chat. Ellie said she would also escalate this, if I insist on talking, because she is not in the right place for a voice-chat. Fair enough, mental health is important and if Ellie is stressed, I am happy to wait. I proposed a meeting to discuss the following day.
During the meeting with Ellie, I am going to try to understand Ellie's concerns, what exactly she thinks the problem is. I am then going to explain why my email has helped us clarify these requirements, allowing us to disregard the old requirements Barry sent through.
My questions to you..
- How to handle these situations if Ellie is unhappy about me contacting her resources
- When should I get any other people involved? (escalation)
- Should I have consulted Ellie before emailing Stacey and Barry to firm up requirements?
- Should I have handled the situation any differently?
After chatting with Ellie, there seems to have been some miscommunication, because she was under the impression that she has asked me not to contact Stacey or Barry - let them sort it out on their own. I reminded her what she told me and she said she would be more clear next time.
The other issue, is she feels like she had taken a lot of time to develop these relationships in the business and doesn't want them to be jeopardized. Apparently the business reps are under a lot of pressure at the moment.
We agreed that if I am pulled into some chat (email or otherwise), where she has been facilitating the communication, I am to discuss with her about any further communication before I get involved.