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Throwaway and some generalized details for obvious reasons. But the gist of it is, I was hired as a developer for a non-tech company as one of its first members in that department(no other tech roles). With the understanding that between us and additional team members we would work on an existing web-based lead tracking software to roll out due to our company's need to get away from our stone-age desktop based software, I believed it to be a great learning experience, and being young I accepted below average pay for my area because I thought it would be a potentially equal tradeoff. Needless to say, the first iteration of the project didn't make it to launch after a year.

So what went wrong on the first try?

I learned that this 'existing project with 70% of the code done' was actually not a project built for this company. Rather it was a low-code/no-code open source project that was found, which allows devs to program some functionality(huge mess, bad docs, vulnerable). It was chosen because the company didn't want to pay for neither a ground-up built software nor a paid customized software(like Salesforce) which probably would've worked. I discovered that it actually was no longer 'in the budget' to hire a front end guy a few months in, and the person hiring me actually wasn't a coder, rather designated himself PM managing just me early on (Which upper management became aware of only after the project failed, and had just gracefully left out that part when giving presentations of it to them). After reaching enough last minute scope changes accepted by PM requested by executives nearing launch date, the project would not be very stable without major code rewrites, we needed to go back to square one but with the right plan in place.

Now what?

The past half year we've been trying again. We've had a designer move into our team to help with mockups for a ground-up built system(he has this experience), except he only gets about 5-10% of his time to work on this due to being stretched thin - leading to months long designs of what could be accomplished in a week or two of collaboration as a team. We've hired a front end dev, but we don't have work for him to do on a consistent enough basis because this lack of progress forward, which is honestly frustrating and embarrassing for me bringing him on, and throughout the day if he doesn't have a deliverable he can work on I will tell him things he should learn online(he's new, but he's good). On my end, working on the backend of the system, I've still been asking to get data produced from all of these secret labyrinths that I don't get access to because of the owner's protective nature over who sees pre-set prices the business uses to calculate invoices(I should have this by now...). My boss/PM also believes it to be 'better for the new software' if I have no access to our previous software or any of the databases, thinking it would be faster just for him to do it. We hold very infrequent meetings, those of which aren't scheduled or planned by our PM, typically I need to pull the team to make sure we're all on the same page because of the non-transparent communication between what execs tell our PM, and how accurately that gets translated to the team.

I've spent a significant amount of my young adult time here, this is my first 'professional' software position outside of freelance and I don't want to abandon ship without giving them a product. But at this point I'm starting to think this is a project that will never get delivered, I've tried putting in the 100 hours weeks, I've tried laying back and seeing if anyone takes lead. I don't want to be that guy, but I've voiced frustrations a few times already. I am starting to lose any motivation to care about pushing this progress forward if it's not going to occur organically or if it just gets bottlenecked by teammates stretched thin stalling any momentum we do achieve. And honestly, I'm not paid enough to be informally leading this team, then filling in our PM on what everyone else is doing because it's not kept track of. Advice?

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    Slightly off-topic - "the company didn't want to pay for ... a customized software (like Salesforce)". Q: and how much cheaper has it been for them to pay salary to a project team for six months to work on a failed system, and still be stuck using the legacy system :-)? Unless this is part of your core offering to customers, you might be better off using a generic off-the-shelf SaaS solution and letting them do the dev work...
    – mclayton
    Commented May 26, 2022 at 10:16
  • "We've had a designer move into our team" Where did this malpy come from? Is he really a designer or just someone with a title? Commented May 26, 2022 at 22:33

2 Answers 2

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The key factors to keep in the forefront of your assessments is along the lines of. Not my company, not my product. There is no point allowing yourself to get frustrated over things you cannot control and don't own.

Apart from that the main issue I see here is

I'm not paid enough

I suggest you look for more money.

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    This has been a big learning experience for you, stick it on your CV/resume and mine it for examples when you interview for your next job. Also, you can watch out for red flags of similarly dysfunctional work environments.
    – R Davies
    Commented May 26, 2022 at 9:03
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Been in this kind of space myself with a manager with an electronics engineering background, really good person to work for but he had by his own admission no experience of software development.

I was given an abstract idea of a project they wanted to develop and told to build it from the ground up.

In my case because the idea was so vague I gathered essential requirements and took a MVP approach - The thinnest possible slice I could to get something working that they could use and then added more features later.

Is simplifying this to the thinnest slice possible an approach you could do or have tried to do?

If you really have reached the end of your rope maybe it's time to update the CV and use all the valuable experience you've gained to prepare some interview answers and quietly look for a job in a team with a track record of delivering where you will get more support.

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