As the title say, I was assigned to a project which other guy was managing 2 months ago, I was supposed to help him in whatever he needed.

A few weeks back the guy just straight out quitted, leaving me the as the unspoken 'lead' of project with the added pressure of a close date in which to show the project working and two new hires in the same project, which skills are orthogonal to mine..

The thing is I'm WAY way out of my comfort zone, I'm expected to do stuff in a short period of time that I don't even have a remote idea on how to do.

The project was (is) all kinds of f' up.. big codebase, I fixed most of the bugs I could, but now the problems left are from functionality, not bugs, ie: Its not working as intended. I even think this project is an open problem in the area where it is from..

Add it to boot that we are testing the code in the void and not where it should be (a machine) and I'm expected it to JUST WORK because and I quote 'How can it not work?'. And we don't even have the proper tools!

My boss even lied about a functionality to the client that wasn't implemented (its not even working now) at the time, and even showed it "working"..

So I have a few questions on what is going on and what to do.

  • Am I being set up to fail as a scapegoat?
  • Should I talk to my boss and say I'm not capable of pushing through this project? (I don't think anyone in this startup is, and I think he will insist I keep trying)
  • Should I just quit? (Same as above)

And by the way I wouldn't even call myself a jr dev..

I'm really stressed.

Sorry if the exposition is all over the place. And thanks for reading :).

  • 1
    I think this question is different enough that it can stand on its own. This is a large and significant problem that affects many people in different ways. Trying to cram all the variants of this type of problem into a single historical question is not merited. – Socrates Nov 13 '16 at 15:20

The right approach here is to document the situation in an email or memo and then verbally go over it with your boss. The code is inadequate here, here, and here. Joe Schmoe lied about this and that. Parts X, Y and Z are non-functional and will require large amounts of additional code and testing to get working.

It is critical that you determine the best possible options and present those alongside the problems. NEVER just give a list of problems with no options or solutions--it makes you look like a obstructor or excuse-maker.

So, basically what you need to do is identify in detail all the problems and then propose the best possible solution or "mitigation" options available.

  • The thing is isn't bad code per se, but more of how the problem was thought of, in which they chose all the wrong tools for the problem. I think there is one that would make the problem mostly trivial, and I talked to my boss about it. (The problem is one all the Big corps are trying to solve but in a more controlled place / scale). Also my boss lied not john doe! – throway Nov 13 '16 at 15:42
  • @throway I have experienced many of these things first hand at a Startup I worked at. Communication is most important, as pointed out by Socrates. You have to identify everything wrong and try to come up with solutions. Work with your boss and relevant people to do this. It is important that everyone is on the same page in regards to the state of the project. Document everything in your project management system. – harsimranb Nov 13 '16 at 18:19
  • @throway I would avoid suggestions that involve re-engineering the whole problem. There is always a better tool, but now is not the time to start from scratch. Focus on salvaging what you have, not starting fresh. – Socrates Nov 13 '16 at 18:22

You don't want to allow yourself to be set up to fail. However this isn't what is happening, your boss is probably grasping at funding, he knows it's a mess and he doesn't care, he expects to talk his way out of it (which isn't as rare as you may think) and perhaps even get more funding. This is his way of doing business.

You have a couple of options, ride with it and trust your boss to see you right.

Get out as soon as you can find another job.

It really comes down to how much faith you have in your boss. But don't just quit, that just leaves you unemployed, find another job first.

  • This is something that crossed my mind too, but wouldn't the client sue his ass when he delivers something that isn't working as intended? – throway Nov 13 '16 at 15:38
  • Suing costs money, this actually happens quite a lot with startups living on the edge. Just talking their way from funding to funding, I've seen whole careers based around a string of failed/uncompleted projects and a string of failed startups. The boss has already convinced a company to give him money for a complex project which he has a junior working on. He just needs to ride it for as long as he can. – Kilisi Nov 13 '16 at 20:46

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