I rewrote one of our existing financial report that has some minor/big flaws. I fixed all major issues but my manager (non-technical) is not full convinced yet. Is it my responsibility to convince my manager that my report is correct? Or should I just wait and move on to other things?

Details Below:

I have already send my manager the program logic and a test results, comparing the old report vs the new one and mine shows almost no flaw. The report is run by another group, not me. Technically it is their responsibility to test it and approve it.

Should I spend any time/effort explaining why this report is correct now? One more thing, my manager is working out of home these days and will be so far a while. we only contact via email.

  • what triggered your rewrite of the report? Customer comments? Error logs? Request from manager? You were bored at work? – mhoran_psprep Jun 25 '12 at 18:53
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    employees were complaing, they were getting paid less. – enthusiast Jun 25 '12 at 18:56
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    Has your manager expressed specific concerns about the report? Have you had a conversation with the person who's responsibility this should be? How was it received? – IDrinkandIKnowThings Jun 25 '12 at 19:15
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    Why not just ask your manager this question? – Keith Thompson Jun 25 '12 at 19:36
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    @mhoran_psprep, obviously an employee can't tell me to fix the report? There is no way I could even do that lol... they talked to managers and thats how it got to me – enthusiast Jun 25 '12 at 20:11

If your manager is asking you to convince him/her that the report is right, then it is your job to convince your manager that the report is right.

The way you do this is to say the following:

  • Here are the metrics I used to determine that my changes were accurate.
  • Here is a known data set that should result in [these values].
  • Here are the results of the old report against that known data set.
  • Here are the results of the new report against that old data set.
  • Here are the test results as provided by Team X and here is their acceptance of my report.

And then you ask if there is any additional data that you should provide to help verify that the work you've done is accurate.

  • My manager did not ask me to convince him otherwise there would be no such question. I did do my analysis and have presented that. The question is, is it software engineer job to convince his boss that his report is correct. – enthusiast Jun 27 '12 at 13:42
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    You said - "fixed all major issues but my manager (non-technical) is not full convinced yet." I assumed that meant your manager said something like "I'm not fully convinced this report is correct. Convince me." – Jacob G Jun 27 '12 at 15:18
  • Did I say he said Convince me., I am afraid not. If he said so why would I ask this question? Or may be I would have asked the question in a different way. – enthusiast Jun 27 '12 at 16:59
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    You didn't say that explicitly, that's why I used the word "assumed." If your question is "I rewrote a report. My boss isn't convinced it's correct. Do I take the initiative to convince him unasked?" Then my answer is the same as verbalizing a lack of confidence in the results is the same as asking for confirmation of the results, imnsho. – Jacob G Jun 27 '12 at 17:22

It is almost always more efficient to leverage user acceptance.

Financial reports can be complex and there might often be operational requirements that make it hard for technical people to tell if the figure is correct. In cases like this, it is a lot easier to just get user acceptance done because at the end of the day, that's the only thing that matters anyway.

If the users have accepted the figures as true, the decision becomes a no brainer for him. Give him the details if he is interested but it's pretty much a done deal.

If you approach him with no user acceptance and the onus is on him to approach the users, it becomes radically different because he is now "responsible" for making sure it's correct and the process becomes long and drawn out.

Managers, just like everyone else, tend to prefer the path of least resistance. So if you want it quick and painless, make it easy for him to say yes.


I was once in a similar situation. I was tasked with a re-writing a data collection program to calculate billable time that customers used our product. I was able to recover over $1 million a month is lost revenue because the accounts payable manager was just dumping records she could not reconcile because of manual data entry errors that were easily programmatically reconcilable. My system reconciled over 99% of the records she was dumping and deleting without telling anyone of for over 10 years. My system inadvertently exposed this dereliction of duties.

Even though I recovered over $12 million dollars a year at a $100 million dollar a year company, not a small percentage, I was the one that was let go a little over six months later because of internal politicking on her part, she had been there for 10 years and I had been there for 1 year and she was upset that my work made her look bad and got her in trouble, she did everything she could to make my manager's life hell until he fired me.

It is your responsibility to prove you are doing your job. In the end, proving that might mean you lose it!

  • Your answer makes it more worthy to ask this question because that can exactly happen. As far as proving my job, it looks I am proving that by providing all explanations where it is necessary? – enthusiast Jun 27 '12 at 17:30
  • Very surprising that she wasn't fired when the original losses were discovered, but having survived that, it's not surprising that she was powerful enough to get you fired. I'd be tempted to check whether she has any role in SEC filings or if the tax collector wants to investigate any shenanigans, but that's my vindictive streak showing. – David Navarre Jul 26 '12 at 16:10

What is the worst thing that could happen if the old errors were used in production? What is your liability? What is your manager's liability?

By the sound of it, you've done everything that was required of you, and even a little more than that. You found bugs, fixed them, notified your supervisor/manager. If your manager is not convinced that this is a problem and doesn't want to move forward with it, that's his decision. Just make sure everything has been in writing so that if the sh*t ever does hit the fan over this report, you can keep yourself safe by saying "I tried to get my manager to fix this but they wanted to keep it under wraps, here's the email". If you think the liability is too great to risk, you could go above your manager and escalate to their manager, but that could get you in trouble with your own manager.


If the new report will end up costing the company money, by increasing their payments to employees, you will have to convince management that they have to make the changes because they are legally obligated to, or morally obligated to make the changes.

What is the long term impact if the change is never made? In the US there can be big penalties if the company purposefully underpays their employees. These tend to be issues related to overtime, but I an not a labor law expert.

The manager may be ignoring your fixes because he doesn't feel it is his place to make the changes. His manager may be stopping the change.

I would make one more attempt, then document the conversation and move on. Unless you are one of the victims, then you may have to get HR involved.

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    sorry this is misleading answer. It is about what to do if you non technical manager does not fully understand the report, who should convince him, myself or the person who uses it. It is my job at all? Would it be nice of me, what can I do in this regard. No about laws :( – enthusiast Jun 25 '12 at 19:28
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    I focused on why you are fixing the report. Management didn't ask you to fix it. They may not want the fix. It doesn't matter if they are technical or not. If they don't want the fix there is no way to use logic to convince them. – mhoran_psprep Jun 25 '12 at 19:43
  • No the higher management did ask me to fix it, even on priority level! – enthusiast Jun 25 '12 at 19:49
  • "What is the long term impact if the change is never made? In the US there can be big penalties if the company purposefully underpays their employees." - This is only true if the company is not paying them the correct amount, paying somebody a lower wage then market value is acceptable, you need to make your statement clear. – Donald Jun 26 '12 at 13:52

The report is run by another group, not me. Technically it is their responsibility to test it and approve it."

Has this other group tested your updated software yet? Yes, They did their own testing and I fixed the issues they reported.

You need to explain to the manager that your code is correct based on your orgainization's current business rules. If the manager thinks the pay calculations are over or under paying the employees then you and he need to review your implementation of these rules.

It's probably that your code is correct, but the manager needs to give you updated business rules.


Your manager is not convinced. Then the logical follow-up question is "what is it that she is concerned about?" You diligently fixed the major flaws, but are the minor flaws sufficiently bothersome to her that she won't sign off on the report ? If that is not the case, then is it possible that the major flaws in the report dented her confidence in the report to the point where she is not confident that the report is the last word on anything? As you can see, I am speculating all over the map. You are better off cycling back to her and asking her directly what is it about the report that's bothering her. If you ask her and she gives you an answer that's pecific, at least, we have a point of reference that we can work from :) At this point, we have nothing to work with - not even guess work :)


It's probably a question of competence - are you responsible for the manager making a correct decision based on your report? If so, you should try to explain things clearly and be compelling enough for them to have a clear view of what should be done despite them not knowing much about your field. You could do that with side-by-side comparison in some power point for example.

If you were only tasked to provide the report, show your manager what your position is on the issue clearly (and most importantly, in some email you can reference later in case someone blames you) and let them do as they please. They might not appreciate you going beyond your responsibilities, and in case you would turn out to be wrong or due to some unfortunate twit of events, you could be blamed for forcing them to do something they didn't want to.

All in all, if you doubt whether you should be making a call, ask yourself whether you are the one responsible for making such a decision.

  • I dont make decision. My manager does. – enthusiast Jun 25 '12 at 19:14
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    @Thecrocodilehunter - If you have done what you were asked, then your job is done, its not your responability ( unless you were told it is ) to convince your manager of anything. – Donald Jun 26 '12 at 13:54

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