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I work at a company in software development and I am having a big problem with workflow.

There have been a lot of issues lately with making sure the product is bug free. I always feel rushed and like I don't have time to properly QA issues. Even when they are QAed locally, I don't always have the latest development environment (or access to it) and I'm not always aware changes have been made. There are two or three teams working on one of the projects, and versioning is a mess.

I feel a lot of the time I am being blamed for these failures, and I don't necessarily feel like they're my fault. I feel like I am being told to rush and hurry as fast as possible (as we are almost constantly overbudget, and if we don't get a certain amount done, I will be asked to work extra hours to make sure they get done) and then also getting blamed when I do rush and there are bugs. I am getting asked to work very frequent overtime (I usually work between 5-20 hours of overtime a month, minimum).

I have tried to talk to my boss about this, and I don't feel she really listened to me. She acted like she did, but nothing has changed, and I find myself blamed for rushing again when a ton of things were put on my plate.

This is tiring me out. It also leads to no work-life balance. I feel like my life is all work, and no balance.

How do I convince my boss to clarify the workflow, set deadlines and projections, and make updates as needed? How do I make sure that I can minimize overtime?

  • Telling your manager how to do their job is usually a bad move – Just Do It Apr 29 '16 at 22:49
  • Then how do I deal with this problem? – Joe Smentz Apr 29 '16 at 22:59
  • Either find another job or be bold and ask your boss to give you more responsibility. Ask the boss to give you control over the processes that are causing the headaches and fix them. What do you have to lose? You're already spending tons of overtime hours dealing with the fallout with no hope of ever fixing the cause, might as well spend the tons of overtime hours taking a stab at actually fixing the issue. – user41761 Apr 30 '16 at 1:41
  • I have done that, and I've been told, "there isn't enough time in the budget to do this right now. I'd love to do it, but we just can't right now". Even though it absolutely leads to much much time being spent overall due to bad process. – Joe Smentz Apr 30 '16 at 1:45
  • Personally you have a good case for actually having a QA team. Devs should never do QA on their own work. That is a 100% guarantee of uncaught bugs. And you do not have time to push changes to prod that have not been QA'd by someone else (preferably a QA specialist and not a dev), stand firm on that. The extra time is far less than reworking a bad prod deployment. – HLGEM May 5 '16 at 19:07
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You need to do some soul searching. You need to decide the following:

Is it them?

Are you working for an unreasonable company that is putting out a ridiculously faulty product? Decide if you want your name on a project that may ultimately fail because you could not apply your best judgement. If you don't, get a new job as fast as you can.

Have you done your best to advise them on the pitfalls? If so, you're not management, you're the worker. They are taking the risk for success/failure. Document your advice in memos / emails / reviews. Document the pro's and con's (and be fair!). Document the advantages of better QA and recognize the costs. Once you've given your best advice, you need to realize that you're not in charge and you need to follow their lead.

Is it me? Be careful. It may not be them. It may be you. Now ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Am I not recognizing the market / business constraints at my company? Perhaps you're not being fair to management? All the QA in the world to make a better product could be useless if it comes out too late in the market and you don't get any sales. Sometimes a flawed product is better than no product. Sometimes you need to prioritize and pick your flaws and accept the 'warts' and 'pimples' in the real-world.
  2. Perhaps you are not a good fit for this type of work environment? Maybe your perfection is better suited in another company. There are many places where perfection is necessary and expected (e.g. NASA, manned aircraft, semiconductor fabrication, medical device ... and all of their associated support industries). I have found that perfection is more often a corporate culture not necessarily an industry. Seek out positions and companies where their standard of perfection match yours or be prepared to change your standards.

Form your own company!

Sounds silly at first. However, sometimes this is the best way to either:

  • Determine if there is a market for your standards and everyone else is missing the boat
  • Teaching you that there's a lot more to running a business than perfection

Anyway you slice it, introspection is good for the soul. Begin by assuming others are right. Then, when you figure they can't be right: figure out why you are not wrong. Then figure out if you are right!

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  • I don't feel I am trying to be overly perfectionist here. I feel I'm not being given any time whatsoever to plan out how I will tackle a problem (10-15 hours for a major refactoring?), and then I am getting blamed for bugs and asked to work ridiculous amounts of overtime to make up for it (300 hours in the past 7-8 months). I did start out with the assumption that it was me, but I've performed a bunch of mini-tests on my own productivity and workflow (the rare instances I've had time), and found a large improvement when I get the chance to actually plan before starting a major project. – Joe Smentz May 15 '16 at 1:00
  • Telling your boss how to manage you (large improvement when I get the chance) has never really worked in my career. – user3533030 May 15 '16 at 16:39
  • Not being given enough time is often the result of: Your boss gave a poor estimate and now you need to 'pay for it' or Their boss gave a poor estimate or the company just doesn't have the time. – user3533030 May 15 '16 at 16:41
  • Working overtime to 'save' a situation usually leads to the expectation that you'll work overtime always. It is unstable unless that's how you want your life to be; one day you'll decide it is not worth the effort. Is that day today? – user3533030 May 15 '16 at 16:42
  • The blame aspect is a little silly. All employees have strengths and weaknesses. It is the job of management to use each employee to their strengths and avoid their weaknesses. Management is supposed to fire people that can't do the job or reformulate the job to the people that they have. If your boss can't do this, find another job or ignore your boss' displeasure; if she's unwilling to fire you or accept your limitations then she's just complaining. – user3533030 May 15 '16 at 16:47
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You did your suggestion, now give her time, I mean, have you been waiting for years? Surely your manager has a ton of other things to deal with so your best bet is asking her for feedback on your latest conversation about what bugs you.

Guys above are right, managers don't like getting told how to do their job but they do appreciate some help, so raise your hand, offer your help and let your ideas become hers if that benefits your work-life balance.

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  • I mean, this is a problem that has been going on for about half a year, and I have reiterated the need for greater process/work-flow over that time. I just don't want to work overtime month, after month, after month, after month. It is -exhausting-. I don't feel I should be the fall guy for what seem to be unrealistic deadlines. Being constantly told, "this needs to be done TODAY, it is an EMERGENCY" every day, and being given very short timeframes (15-20 hours for a major refactoring project with a bunch of new architecture and no planning time just seems like a bad idea) – Joe Smentz Apr 29 '16 at 23:37
  • As the famous project management saying goes: "PISS-POOR-PLANNING on your part, does not justify an EMERGENCY on my part" Print it and post it right below your nameplate on your door or cubicle wall. – MelBurslan May 5 '16 at 16:14
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I know this is going to sound a little childish, but, when asked for working overtime (I am assuming this overtime work is paid) resist the temptation of more money and create an excuse for not working overtime (sick parent/child, PTA meeting, out of town guests, etc. are unavoidable obligations and truth or not, no one will be wiser). Do not do it in an obvious way, as a retaliation but frequently enough to make the boss understand, you do not live to work. When things go way side, their bonuses are endangered. And the fear of losing money moves mountains.

If you were giving hints for over a year with no real improvement in the situation, my guess is your boss is either totally incompetent or doesn't have the gravitas in the organization to make this happen. Have you started looking for work elsewhere ? As an IT professional, I know software QA jobs are a plenty if you are good at what you are doing.

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  • It is rare for overtime to be paid to devs in the US.That is why is is also commonly expected. – HLGEM May 5 '16 at 19:08
  • Overtime is not paid. A couple months ago I had an obligation that I couldn't get out of, and I had to prepare for that. I told my boss this, and had even mentioned the obligation a couple weeks prior. I was called in on a day I have off, and after needing to leave to deal with the obligation, was told I would have to come in on another day off to finish the project. She eventually relented, because asking an employee to do like 20-30 hours of overtime in a week is crazy, but still, I feel her mindset is toxic. – Joe Smentz May 7 '16 at 23:38
  • Also when I had the excuse of out of town guests, I was simply asked to work the overtime on another day. – Joe Smentz May 23 '16 at 23:53

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