I am currently working with a project manager and not sure about some of the stuff she expects me to do. As a developer as well as writing code, quite often I am being asked to perform certain other tasks whenever we face a problem.

For instance the software which runs perfectly on server A is running really slow on a test server, we make sure that this is not anything to do with the software we wrote and it is hardware related, but then I am being asked to find out why that server is really slow and what can be done about it, I investigate this and find the reasons (i.e. hardware fault, wrong setup etc...) and then report this to her, she then asks me to come up with possible solutions (i.e. contacting the relevant departments and asking them if they can fix the hardware issues or re-install certain software etc...) and this is just one of the examples.

I have already spoken to her about this and her response was that it is our (devs) responsibility to take ownership of the problems and find solutions. In my previous roles these kind of situations were reported to the project managers and they were responsible for contacting the relevant people and sorting the issues.

My question is as a developer how much of these kind of none coding issues should be handled by developers?


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    How can anyone but a developer make the determination that the slow performance is not related to something in the code? Generally speaking it's not uncommon for a developer role to include some occasional ops-related work. It's certainly not something a project manager would do. Those kind of tasks fall either to development or operations. – aroth Apr 5 '14 at 11:22
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    If one hasn't properly configured the SQL instance, it could be slow due to optimization issues, which only a developer could identify. If the server is slow due to underpowered CPU or memory shortage, it's someone else's problem to fix, but you'll have to have identified it as the issue first. – Meredith Poor Apr 5 '14 at 11:27
  • @Meredith Poor, this is exactly my point, I don't mind identifying the issue, but when I told her that there is a CPU/memory issue, she expects me to talk to the other departments and get the issue solved, which I am not sure I need to be doing. – HugoDev Apr 5 '14 at 11:46
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    @HugoDev - Project Managers are supposed to keep developers focused on development. I would agree with you that once it's out of your scope it's her problem, not something you should 'take ownership' over. – Meredith Poor Apr 5 '14 at 11:56
  • How siloed is your organization? Are you permitted to talk to the server administrators to address the CPU/memory issue, or are they sequestered from you? Can you address the CPU/memory issues by improving your code? – alroc Apr 6 '14 at 12:10

It really depends on company culture and management style. Your previous manager(s) had a much more hands-on approach, keeping close control over your activities. Your current manager seems to delegate the task to you and then keeps in touch to see if you need help. With this kind of management style you can enjoy more freedom. However, with freedom comes responsibility. In this case it means you have to be more proactive in case you need to know stuff or need to have access to resources. If you're uncomfortable with that, then it's your responsibility to indicate that, so she might adjust to your needs.

It seems that your new manager might be a 7 habits woman.

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  • It may also be that the previous companies the OP worked at had a different ratio of project managers to developers. I've worked places with almost as many PMs as devs, and they took on a lot of responsibility. And I've worked at places where it was 1:5 and the PMs were up to their ears just keeping track of what was happening, with no time to volunteer any additional help. – Carson63000 Apr 5 '14 at 22:08

There is clearly a disjoint between your expectations and hers. Her expectation that you take ownership of the problem is extreme and probably unreasonable. Because she cannot just abdicate the responsibility for seeing the problem to its conclusion by simply passing the hot potato to someone else.

Given that she is acting rationally - not that you and I like her rationale, I suggest that you escalate to your team leader and your manager in the hierarchy that the three of you lay out your professional expectations to her. Yes, she gets full cooperation and you are taking ownership for your responses and if the engineers contact you about what you said, you will speak with them but the responsibility to escalate to engineering is hers.

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