I'm working as a software developer in an IT company, further called employer company, which develops and maintains some software for another company, let's call it customer company.
I want to have a raise. In order to get it, I need to
- find a sufficiently costly problem and
- prepare a realistic proposal for fixing it.
"Sufficiently costly" means that the problem is causing much more damage than the money I'll be asking. For example, if I find a problem, which makes the company lose 1 000 000 dollars per year and fix it for 100 000 dollars per year, the company will most likely give me the raise I want because for every dollar they give me, they earn or save 10.
I thought, how to find such problems. One idea is to just ask a senior manager of the customer company. I've talked to him several times and have him in my Skype contacts. He is the project manager in the customer company and decides, what features the employer company builds.
Until now, I haven't told anybody in the employer company that I want a raise. I will only do this, when I have a more or less compelling proposal. In the employer company I don't have a particularly good standing and it's very hard for me to understand other people. I hate the attitude of some of my coworkers. One of my proposals to improve the way we work was ignored. So, if I do this thing, I want to maximize the chances of it getting implemented.
Is it acceptable (ethical) to write to that senior manager a letter like shown below without getting approval from employer company?
Dear Mr. X,
Could you tell me 3 problems or challenges, which, if overcome/achieved, would greatly benefit customer company?
In other words: If a fairy came to you and offered you to magically improve 3 things about the project, what would it be?
I'm asking because I often think, how we could make the cooperation better. I have several ideas and before I attempt to implement them, I want to make sure that I am solving the right problem (problem worth solving).
Thanks in advance
Note: I don't intend to work in that area for the rest of my life. It's just that I need some money, urgently, and doing additional (valuable) work for additional money is one way to get it.
What could possibly go wrong?
Potential problem 1: Senior manager gets angry
It's possible that once the senior manager starts thinking about these problems, he might realize some of them, which he didn't before. Like if someone's tooth has been aching for a long time, they get used to it and don't notice it. And then if someone comes and tells them, they suddenly realize, how painful it is.
If that happens, it's possible that
- the senior manager of customer company will get angry, which
- will get noticed during weekly planning meetings (he will tell it to project manager of employer company),
- the people at employer company will start asking "who rocked the boat and caused this ruckus?",
- find out, it was me and
- I get fired.
Potential problem 2: What's in it for the employer company?
Imagine, I actually find a pressing problem, which the customer company is having. The employer company may not be interested in solving it, hence may not be willing to pay me more.
I saw it at least once in a different culture (Austria). There, there was a customer company, which ordered some software from an international, top-notch software vendor. Famous, one of the best, if not the best. That vendor had lousy managers, good developers and terrific lawyers. That vendor didn't gave a damn about the problems of the customer because they were paid anyway. In fact, another company (whose contractor I was back then) was hired to help the customer company prove that the vendor didn't fulfill several of its contractual obligations.
Right now, I'm in a different culture (Russia) and employer company probably isn't as evil as that famous vendor, but I have no idea, how people will react, if they get to know that I've asked the customer about the problems behind their backs.
Also, they may not be interested in improving the service to the customer company because it can't switch vendors - only the employer company knows, how that custom software works and only they can maintain it (keep the software running, which generates all the revenue for the customer company).