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Although my question is specific to IT industry, I think it can be generalized to a question about dealing with something that was done poorly by your predecessors.

I joined my current team some time ago, and at that time there was already a pretty large codebase in the project. Parts of the codebase are written in a poor fashion, and we're constantly experiencing problems with that functionality. The development team has already brought this problem to the attention of the management and there are plans to review those parts of the codebase and potentially reimplement the functionality from scratch. However, these tasks have very low priority on the backlog, and given the size of the team and the workload, probably "never" is a pretty close time estimate for that work being done. At the same time, we receive bad reviews from the customers and stakeholders about poor user experience. Is there anything else the development team can do to convince management that this is high priority job?

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"At the same time, we receive bad reviews from the customers and stakeholders about poor user experience. Is there anything else the development team can do to convince management that this is high priority job?"

Under normal circumstances, customer complaints about a poor user experience should result a top priority mandate to dev from management. Because if enough customers are lost, then the business is in jeopardy.

The fact that the management has kicked any improvement to the user experience to the bottom of the priority pile - that's troubling. Because it's troubling that there could be issues that are more urgent and more critical than improving the user experience.

Just to make sure, the team should report (again) that the poor user experience is alienating customers and endangering the business model and should recommend (again) that the priority on this issue be escalated. Having said that, the dev team emphasizes that it makes its recommendation while respecting management's prerogative to set priorities.

This is not a happy situation.

  • Would it be time to keep the resume updated, if management insists that UX is not important? – Mindwin Nov 17 '16 at 20:25
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Use the normal method, refer customer complaints to management to deal with.

It's not your role to be dealing with things you have no control over. Management can explain to the client about priorities or whatever they want, it's not your problem. You just need to focus on the priorities handed to you from your superiors. Anything else is given to the people responsible for it.

As a customer I would have no interest in liaising with someone who could not fix my issues (I'd have no interest in the reason) and didn't have the authority to get things done. I want to be talking to the 'proper' people, in this case that would be management.

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It's possible that your management does not understand the connection between "Parts of the codebase are written in a poor fashion, and we're constantly experiencing problems with that functionality." and "bad reviews from the customers and stakeholders about poor user experience." Your task is to convince management to recognize that connection.

Document the relation between each customer complaint and some particular bad code. Explain how a proper implementation would have forestalled the complaint.

At this point you may identify complaints not related to a poor codebase. Don't force the connection; you will only weaken your case.

Then, for each such identified connection, prepare a detailed proposal comparing the cost of the fix with the cost of the complaint. You may be surprised to find that some code problems really aren't worth fixing.

When you present the surviving proposals to management, begin with the strongest and most obvious. This will help institute the habit of looking for ROI in maintenance, and make it easier to get management to listen to further proposals.

I believe that when you expose the connection between fixable poor quality and expensive customer complaints where the cost of the fix is less than the cost of the complaints, management will change their minds. And when you find a connection where the cost if the fix is more than the cost of the complaints, you will change your mind. Either way, you get on the same page as your management.

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It's really not your job to convince management how to run their business properly. It's your job and professional responsibility to make that software work as well as you can, with the resources and priorities that you are given. It is also your personal responsibility to figure out if or when the ship is sinking, and be prepared to leave before you are dragged down with it.

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