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I work as part of a team that carries out "Function X" (e.g. Quality Assurance Testing the product that team T works on). My team and team T report to the same "Big Boss" senior manager.

As part of a long-standing disagreement (apparently) Senior Manager S who used to be responsible for function X now thinks that it belongs under her remit instead due to perceived deficiencies in the way it's being done currently (e.g. testing isn't thorough enough and too many errors get through the process). S is in charge of delivery to the customer.

In my opinion our team is "underperforming" due to organisational constraints rather than people being incapable.

Senior manager S is now recruiting for people to carry out "function X" reporting to her, essentially setting up a new team to carry out this function. The role being recruited for is the same but differently worded (e.g. "Tester" vs "QA analyst") Recruitment is being done openly, internal and external.

S hasn't discussed with the current team; it's unclear whether it has been discussed between her and the big boss of us and Team T. (If it has, it wouldn't have been amicable!)

I brought it up casually with the Big Boss of our team and team T, and it was dismissed. I think he is unaware of it, rather than "in the know" and allaying fears.

I infer that if this happens, I and my team will be made redundant in favour of the new guys.

  • Is it a known thing for another area to "usurp" a function?

  • What steps could I take to secure my position?

  • Should I start looking elsewhere or is that jumping ship prematurely? (Not sure what I could give as a reason for leaving in an interview!)

  • (Edited/Added) Why recruit new people rather than redirect the existing people?

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    Yes it's known; it's a mistake to assume that because the big boss dismissed your concerns that they're unaware of it though. – Ben Mar 10 '16 at 19:01
  • they're training your replacement – Kilisi Mar 10 '16 at 20:13
  • Having separate departments for development and QA sounds is and old but scary idea. You can have additional external testing, but the group who builds something should be the group that vouches for quality, which strongly suggests that it should have testers on board. Otherwise you risk playing the blame game and organisational ping-pong – Kos Jan 13 '17 at 14:14
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  • Is it a known thing for another area to "usurp" a function?

Yes, absolutely. See all instances of "Shadow IT." This can be a huge waste of resources in practice, or it could be a sign that Pan-organizational needs simply do not meet the needs of a given team. Given the history you state, there may be personal motivations in play by Manager S.

  • What steps could I take to secure my position?

Raise this with your manager. It is their job to get visibility to upper management to see that this waste is occurring. If what you describe is truly the case, your manager should start feeling the heat.

  • Should I start looking elsewhere or is that jumping ship prematurely? (Not sure what I could give as a reason for leaving in an interview!)

Maybe if you are already on a derelict team. This is an opinionated question, but for "reason for leaving", you could say changes in management structure left you with uncertain feelings.

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As you probably already know, here's what's happening:

Senior Manager S is customer's point of contact. Flawed / buggy product keeps making it to production and it's making S look bad.

Customer doesn't know or care about your company's internal politics, or why they keep receiving software that "isn't thoroughly tested enough" and that has "too many errors [getting] through the process [to production]" due to "organizational constraints." Customer is paying lots of money and just wants quality product. Every time they are hampered by a bug, it is affecting their ability to complete their business processes (and potentially costing them money).

Daily / weekly / monthly / whatever, S is having a meeting or a conference call or an email conversation with customer where they point out (possibly very nicely, possibly not) the bugs that they have found. S keeps having to apologize and make excuses. S has had enough of looking like a fool. Like a good problem solver, S is trying to fix the problem. She is going to make sure that crappy product does not make it to production. So, she has created a new position with a slightly altered job description. I say, good for her. She's fixing a problem that others can't or won't fix.

It sucks that your supervisor can't, or won't, or is not empowered enough to affect structural change. As you predicted, there may be a redundancy forming, and your unit may be down-sized in favor of the other unit. Or, maybe you won't. It sounds like Big Boss doesn't care how the problem gets fixed, he's just glad someone is doing something. Who knows what the future holds?

You have a few options:

  • Stay where you are and ride it out. Hard work gets noticed, so do the best you can within your constraints. Maybe nothing will happen. Polish your resume though.

  • You said S is openly recruiting. Maybe apply for her team?

Good luck.

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    +1 for the "apply for S's team". Of course, it depends on internal elements, but in some cases, it can be the best move. – gazzz0x2z Mar 11 '16 at 10:01

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