I work as a backend software developer for a tech company. This company has a multi-million dollar project that is at least three years underway. The project is supposed to go live this year, and they still have yet to implement the core functionality of the project. There have been numerous setbacks and restructures even since I came aboard.
I was on a different project with a smaller team, but we were efficient, met our goals, so forth. The failing project team is almost 5 times the size of my old team, with no additional productivity to show for it.
Last year, our CEO took over this failing project personally, with the purpose of making sure it would be ready for go live. Earlier this year, the CEO asked me to design the core functionality for this project. This is a duty previously held by multiple people over the past three years. I accepted with the understanding that I would be designing this on the side, still maintain my original duties, and pass on my design to the other project's team for implementation. It took me a few weeks to learn the new framework they were using, but when I did, the design took all of a week.
Fast forward a few months, and the team is no closer to implementing my design. I have been asked to move from my successful team and act as developer on this failing project, both by the CEO and other management. My days now mostly consist of meetings circling back on decisions made months ago and dealing with project managers who don't understand the project they are managing. About once a week, I will be asked to present on my work, then five minutes in my presentation will be completely derailed over one insignificant detail that I address later in the presentation. I have now produced three separate proof of concepts which do exactly what we need; I just need the rest of this huge team to agree to implement it.
I don't know how to handle this situation. I am getting a lot of pressure from management and the CEO to see this through, to the point that if (when) this fails, I'm not sure I will still have a job. However, management and the CEO are a majority of the reason this project is failing to begin with, with such frequent unproductive meetings and constant disagreements on what should be simple matters.
I've tried talking with the CEO, and though they agree the project is treading water, I don't know how to ask them to step back because they are making it worse. I have talked with my old manager, and they know and support me, but this issue is out of their jurisdiction. I'm not close with the new managers, so I don't know how my feedback will be received unless it comes from the CEO.
I've considered reaching out to some of the more competent developers and asking to implement this below the radar and just present the finished product when it’s ready, but again, I'm not close to many of them and don't know how they will react.
Ultimately, I'm having lots of expectations placed on me, but every time I have a suggestion of try to make progress I get shut down. I'm a relatively new to the team, not even on management, so I don't have a lot of influence, but I'm competent enough to complete this project if I just had the resources.
How can I either
- Make it clear to the CEO that this problem is out of my control and thus I should be put back on my other project (back out)
- Assert authority over the situation and lead future progress (push forward)
The past few months have been an ongoing fight to gain support from below and above. It's been stressful and the project has not made much progress, but I think the situation has reached a turning point.
I've been in close contact with the CEO throughout and gained their support in this. There was also an external development which made some of the deadlines more lax, as well as an internal change which has brought development to a screeching halt. With this, I've taken the advice here and made my case for change.
I now have a development team with explicit instructions to work only on what I deem a priority and the resources to see this project through. I see hard work ahead of us to make up for lost time, but this seems to be a change for the better. Thank you all for your wisdom and advice that helped me achieve this.