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I work mostly alone without much direction from management. Really, I am not certain if management even knows the business process as most of the business processes/practices I created them without management's input (there wasn't any management for a while) as I had to develop systems for the company. When management does want something they normally only supply vague constantly changing ideas. These ideas keep snowballing into ever changing uncompletable projects or temporary tangents. In the past requirements have been requested which just led to fustration.

Previously, I brought up the fact that I didn't think it was a good idea to have and indivual developer working on large projects without a second pair of eyes and requested more defined requirements. Neither of these have been worked on.

Now, I am worried that if I leave no one will understand what is going on from a business or software perspective. How can I explain to management that many of the business assumptions they have are wrong and that someone else should at least see the systems which have been built without giving away that I want to leave or angering them and hurting the chance of future references?

marked as duplicate by gnat, jcmeloni, yoozer8, Telastyn, IDrinkandIKnowThings May 5 '14 at 17:19

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Simple. Start getting into the habit of documenting all your work going forward. If management objects, tell them that there are many aspects of the business processes that are at present documented only in your head, and that you need to make sure that management has something to work with in case you get run over by a truck.

Document, document, and document like you're possessed by an evil spirit that is telling you to document :) Because the quality of your documentation is your ticket out of the firm, should you choose to move on. You don't want your successor to call you and harass you at your new job for weeks or months at a time because they have no idea what's going on. Instead, you want to be happily settled in your new job and to tell your successor and your successor's management to RTFM :)

Your management has tin ears. Documentation is your explanation, and have them RTFM if they are looking for explanations.

Follow-up comment from @JennyD "Seconded. I'd also add "document before doing; update document while doing". Documenting before doing gives you a chance to think through what you're doing and why and will make you more efficient."

Nothing like doing the documentation on a timely basis rather than banging your head against the wall trying to remember what you did six months earlier and re-figuring out why :)

  • 1
    Seconded. I'd also add "document before doing; update document while doing". Documenting before doing gives you a chance to think through what you're doing and why and will make you more efficient. – Jenny D May 5 '14 at 12:51
  • @JennyD Very good comment. I took the liberty to add it (with attribution to you) in my answer, and I added in it a supporting comment of my own to your comment :) – Vietnhi Phuvan May 5 '14 at 12:57
  • I second your supporting comment - and of course I had to learn it the hard way :-) – Jenny D May 5 '14 at 13:13
  • @JennyD I tell people I love learning the hard way - I was always lousy at lying :) – Vietnhi Phuvan May 5 '14 at 13:30
  • I try to go with "we all need to learn from the mistakes of others because there's not enough time for one person to make all the mistakes " :-) – Jenny D May 5 '14 at 13:31

With respect, your concern here seems to be about more than your departure. Are you also concerned that the company doesn't understand how your personal decisions are affecting their ability to generate revenue? If you are human, you are most likely annoyed that you're not being recognized for your contribution to the company's capabilities.

Does your company have an auditor? Is there an outsider who comes yearly to inspect the business? If so, she or he may ask you for information about the processes you implement. If you can hand the auditor a data sheet for each process you will be in good shape.

I suggest a data sheet because you don't have time to create a fancy users' guide document. Here are some items you can put in the data sheet.

  1. Name of system, version number, date put into service.
  2. Purpose
  3. Most important production users (e.g. order entry clerks)
  4. Administrative / supervising users (e.g. sales administrator)
  5. Most important work product of your system (e.g. real time delivery of new orders to product assembly department).
  6. Most important report from your system (e.g. weekly sales summary).
  7. Assumptions you made designing the system (e.g. orders are checked for accuracy before they are entered.)

The assumptions section is the place to record business processes that might be controversial -- "sales and assembly do not agree on the format of orders, so this system reformats them" for example.

This should be an easy and professional way to prepare for auditor queries. You may never have to use these data sheets. But your successor will be grateful if you leave.

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