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I'm currently in a trouble I never encountered before.

I'm technical expert (freelance) for 5 months for a well-known French company.
My goal is/was to:

  • Create a mechanism interfering with their backends to allow push notifications (iOS, Android) on several of their mobile apps (more than 10 apps).
  • Create a completely new version of one of their most famous mobile app.

The first goal was completed very successfully. They were very satisfied.
I started the second in a great way too, starting by architecting the whole project, up to a really well-achieved MVP.

Here's the thing:

I was expected to build a completely new app using modern technologies with this rule:

"The look and feel and features of this second version of the application should look EXACTLY the same than the actual version on the stores."

As a very experienced programmer, I chose to start implementing use cases (based on some user stories), following the Test-Driven Development methodology that I well master.
I was working alone on the project since I was the unique person there being able to do it in a very clean way (according to them).

They were very happy to see a nice and bug-free app on a demo meeting.

Two weeks ago, in a meeting (10 persons), my chief told me:

"The app development isn't so fast, I don't see the exact look and feel of EVERY screen; it lacks some PNG icons!".

As an expert and professional, I explained him that it's far better to focus on invisible but real significant improvement (like algorithms of use cases), than a very simple CSS to put some icons.
10 minutes after the meeting, I integrated those icons in the app to show him and he was very amazed/happy. At this moment, I decided to put far more graphical elements as the app evolves day after day to satisfy him.

To give you an idea of the app's size, it took me about 10 000 lines of code to achieve the whole first use cases in a very very cleanly way. So my implication was substantial and I was very proud of my product.

People around (even the director) were very amazed by the quality of the product and experienced developers about the quality and readability of the source code.

I was very happy to work there and totally motivated to continue building this challenging app.

Two days ago, a specific meeting occurred about the application.
They announced me that thing has changed, and that all my GUI part (layout) and navigations mechanisms should be thrown away; and even some of my modules about algorithms!

Reason: They will be subcontracted to an external agency for a reason I ignore.

I immediately asked: "Why ???? The app is perfect as it is, and you told me that you were impressed!".

Given answer: "We didn't decide, instructions come from "above"".
They accepted to show me some of their screens that I've never seen before (and first delivered source code about some algorithms), and note that they agreed they sounded far less professional than mine (weird decision so).

In other words, I would not be the technical leader of the project.
Some tears, remembering all the tricky things I've done to have a perfect app, including GUI.

I wrote a mail to my both chiefs to point out that I was very disappointed given that new information and that I want to understand why they didn't explain me that 2 months ago (they revealed they knew it 2 months ago!). Frustrating to have made a great product for ... the trash.

In short, in a mail:

I was recruited as being the technical leader of the project. It sounds that I will not master a lot of decisions about the technical aspects of the app and it's not pleasant to know it, please explain why you were hiding this to me.

After reading this mail, they don't talk to me any more; like if I was a ghost in the open space.
Not even a minimal "apology" for the thrown code, nothing.

I was very upset this morning but a colleague told me to take it easy; to not think about leaving; that I was a very good and scarce developer and that the team clearly needs me for future development of the same app.

I don't know what they have in mind.

Why would a chief sidestep one of his best employee? Why don't they dare to answer my e-mail?

  • 3
    Removing a bit of detail and back story might help this question get more attention and answers. I think your main points are: You were assigned a project & worked on it for many months, but information was withheld for you and in the end much of the effort was wasted. Your main question could be: What specific steps help prevent such problems or catch them earlier? – user30031 Nov 10 '16 at 22:50
  • About your last sentence: my OP is not about preventing, it's about reacting after facts. – Mik378 Nov 10 '16 at 22:52
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    Your email was sort of rude, they are your client, they (or simply the decision maker) wanted to go another direction. – Donald Nov 11 '16 at 3:50
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    @Mik378 You may want to use a more anonymous profile for this kind of questions. – Étienne Reinstate Monica Nov 19 '16 at 23:22
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    These kind of questions seem to be a trend for you. I think you could use some personalized help more than the generic help that a Q&A site offers. In particular, it seems like you could benefit from decoupling your work and your self-worth, and then these types of situations would not bother you so much. – user3067860 May 11 '17 at 22:00
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This is a pretty broad issue to give advice on, but as to your last question - "Why don't they dare to answer my e-mail."

Any number of reasons:

  1. They're embarrassed. The decision was made from higher up, they were told to keep you in the dark, and they feel yanked around as much as you do.
  2. Legal reasons. They don't want to give you anything you could use against them.
  3. Respect. They're in charge, they tell you what to do on the job, and they don't want to hear your criticism. Your email is accusatory, and they may expect you to apologize before they respond.
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You are creating a problem out of pique where none exists. You're a freelancer you did two months work and got paid for it. What they do with THEIR product is totally up to them.

As a freelancer I don't care if they have me washing dishes, so long as I got paid my ridiculous hourly rate.

The reason they are not answering is probably because you have acted unprofessionally by complaining and not taking their original answer (true or false) at face value and moving forwards.

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    Hard to just think about money when you are passionated about your work, but yet I get your point ;) – Mik378 Nov 10 '16 at 21:22
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    @Mik378, he may not have known or may have been told to hold it in confidence and to treat your worko as he normally would. He is NOT your employer, he is your client and it is his right to do that. Likely the person who received the work has some sort of political pull in the organization. These things happen, it is counterproductive to get upset about them. – HLGEM Nov 10 '16 at 21:54
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    Got your point. I think I really need some kind of introspection to really absorb the mentality of a freelancer. I started freelancing this year (8 months of work until now with 4 companies at a time), I love the fact of having multiple clients at a time and discovering various technical contexts and I achieved great things. But I really need to adopt the ideal mentality of a freelancer. It sounds I take things to much to heart. – Mik378 Nov 10 '16 at 21:59
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    Professional reputation and money are the primary focii, the one gets you the other. So let this issue slide, it's harming your reputation. – Kilisi Nov 10 '16 at 22:03
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    @DoritoStyle He has the experience. He would have anything even if he finished the work, it was the clients work, not like he wasn't paid for what was done – Donald Nov 11 '16 at 4:01
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Considering what you can do after the fact: Not much. This project is a loss. All you can do is:

  1. Make your concerns known (You've already done so, hopefully politely).
  2. For your next project, make sure to get an agreement in writing as to who will be the project manager and all stakeholders who get final say on planning.
  3. If this issue occurs repeatedly and you feel that it is hurting your reputation or happiness, consider ending the contract.

As for the current "chilly" social situation, you might consider talking one on one or sending a message only to tell them you are sorry that the situation became tense and that it won't happen again (Don't plead your case or attempt to extend this conversation). Importantly, you should hold yourself to that promise unless you are prepared to alter or end the contract.

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