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I've worked as a computer programmer, manager, professional for close to 25 years. My new job has great pay and great people but due to a very odd management style (way too many layers) and years of getting away with poor practices they're stuck in a rut. The management style could best be described as "dev last" so usually by the time we are brought in to consult mistakes have been made that we have no control over.

As bad as it is for the company it costs my programming team a lot of money on every project. These practices include mostly ignoring the production team until a lot of bad decisions have been committed to. We are rarely asked our opinions about technology platforms or best practices. We also very often receive work that is not in shape for us to begin deploying it, so the first part of the project often involves looking for resources or trying to unravel actionable tasks from earlier project documents. You'd think with the not one but two layers of management above us -- and given how well we're paid as developers -- that someone by now would have realized what a considerable waste of time and money this is.

I don't like to complain but every production meeting we have quickly devolves into a gripe session. I've tried my best to keep my team up to snuff professionally, to push back on bad practices, and have notified everyone from my boss to the CEO that we could be doing a lot better. Everyone agrees, signs off, and then the bad practices pattern starts all over again.

Right now we're bidding on a very large job. It would be a real coup for our company to land it. But I'm very concerned of us trying to complete it without undoing these bad practices. I take pride in my work and it's killing me to watch this company spin its wheels. I know I could go somewhere else but I also think I could stay here and make a difference. All thoughts welcome.

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  • What kind of management style do you mean? Is it some crazy layers of Mangers, Directors, VPs and SVPs? Non-technical people trying guide IT-department practices? I.E. your CFO trying to tell your Devs how to code? Is it your PMs trying to Waterfall out an Agile Shop? I have been in your position as a young PM, but some additional background could help out. – VaeInimicus Sep 7 '16 at 18:03
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    Are you working at the desk next to me? This seems to be the story of every large company. – nvoigt Sep 7 '16 at 18:10
  • Not a super-large company. I've worked at those too! – Dave Kanter Sep 7 '16 at 19:30
  • @VaeInimicus added a comment to clarify. – Dave Kanter Sep 7 '16 at 19:31
  • @VaeInimicus "waterfall an agile shop" would be a polite way to put it, but really the process is there is no process. Anyone who wants to can grab any developer for any reason and stick them on a project...until they're not. – Dave Kanter Sep 7 '16 at 19:36
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This is the problem:

You don't have any workflow processes in place where you can showcase productivity gains from your suggestions and where you can make your management see the impact of the changes you have in mind on the company's strategic and financial position.

If you have nothing to show, then you are flapping your gums just as I have been flapping my own gums from time to time :) And we all waste our time.

It doesn't look from your narrative like your management ever instituted any kind of productivity measurement on any work they ever commissioned the developer staff to do. It's bad for two reasons: 1. you have no way to estimate productivity gains because you don't even know what the current productivity baseline is; 2. the management has no frame of reference for any productivity gain that you might forecast.

My take is that you need to give your management some productivity data to work with and to have a mental grasp of. Otherwise, you and your management are talking past each other - That's my immediate concern.

The longer term concern is that the workflow process changes you have in mind will take time and effort to fully implement and that you need to motivate management buy-in every single day during the entire time you are planning and implementing the transition. Obviously, promising numbers are a great motivator but since you are starting from scratch and there will be trial-and-error, you'll need to manage a few setbacks on the way to overhauling the firm's workflow processes.

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  • Yeah, I think any answer is going to be something along these lines. Gonna hold off on voting just yet but you are 100 percent correct. – Dave Kanter Sep 7 '16 at 19:42
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    Update: Finally I just quit. That place is going nowhere in a hurry. – Dave Kanter May 15 '17 at 22:02
  • I have incapable manager and CEO also suck and stupid. He learnt it hard way by running low on budget and laying off people 30% of company. Then he started to recall my concern of last year! I am now planning to move away too – Sam Oct 1 '20 at 8:24

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