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We are currently working on a pretty big project. Our company has been using open source software (MySQL etc) to store their data and are now moving to Microsoft SQL server.

To give a simple overview: Team A works with MySQL and is responsible for giving me the latest updates in data. I (Team B) have to store them daily in the Microsoft database and give the necessary access to team C (which uses this data on other applications etc).

The problem is, Team A does not have all the data Team C needs. Because of this, Team C his application won't work correctly. Team C knows this, but still complains (over mail) to me about the data not being complete. The only thing I can do is forward their mails to team A with team C in CC. However, team A tries to avoid accepting there are problems and only replies to me saying team C should find a way to fix it themselves. Of course, I forward this to team C, with team A in CC, on which Team C complains to me about saying A needs to fix this and that they won't do it. And so on....

One discussion like this is now going on for 3 weeks with both sides expecting the other side to fix it. And every morning I get a mail from both teams to remind the other one to fix it.

I think it is partially my fault because I accepted this to happen at the beginning. I am a junior and the other teams mostly exist from seniors. So I didn't want to leave a bad impression by making them think I didn't want to help or was being lazy. However this has gone out of hand and I really want those 2 groups to start sitting together and leave me alone. After all, (this might sound selfish) the problems they have does not have any effect on my project.

Both groups will surely leave me alone if all the problems are fixed, but I don't see this happening any time soon and because of that, I would rather find a way to stop being used for communication like I am now.

How can I get both teams to work together and stop using me as a go-between?

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    Have you talked to your direct manager about all this ? What does (s)he think you should do ? What about having a 3-way conversation between you, leader of team A and leader of team C in which all of you try to find a solution that works for anyone ? – Radu Murzea Nov 27 '16 at 11:23
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    Are you the Project manager on the project? Who's actual responsibility is it to fill in the missing data? It sounds like you need to put your foot down and tell one team it is there responsibility not the others. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Nov 27 '16 at 15:18
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You have two options:

Escalate

You're out of your depth and apparently have no clear authority over either team. The problems aren't in your realm of responsibility and both senior team leads have dug their heels in. They're essentially playing chicken and you're the hapless junior stuck in the middle of the impending collision. This is where it's time to escalate the situation to your manager. If you don't feel comfortable resolving this yourself or get the feeling that neither manager will respect your calls or your attempts to get them to work things out then you have to bring in a more senior profile to arbitrate because you need their experience and their authority.

If you are a truly junior profile then I'd expect you to opt for this option in most cases. If you're actually in Project Management rather than software development then this kind of facilitation is more in line with your job and you should instead try to resolve the issue yourself, even if you're new to the job.

(Try to) resolve it yourself

You need a meeting. You've been playing email ping-pong for three weeks(!) now and it's obviously not working. This is where you need to talk face to face to both managers and agree on a course of action. Prior to this you should meet in person with each manager separately to get an idea of what they can do on their end, what they need and how many resources they can spare to work on things at their end. You can then suggest a few compromises to find out what you have to work with. Assuming you can find a compromise you'd touch base with both managers before the meeting to verify that it's acceptable to them and then work out the particulars in the actual meeting. What a compromise looks like is very situational. In your case, which is a weirdly divided ETL cycle, it could be something like A getting 80% of the missing data available in their Extract by next month and C setting up dummy data in their Load cycle or working around the missing data somehow. Another option could even be for you to add dummy data in your Transform process.

If you do go this way I would still loop your manager into what's been happening and what you're planning to do to resolve things.

Note that this all assumes that the three teams involved are from the same company working for the same goals. If any involve external contractors, client teams or multiple companies then this all becomes ten times harder. That kind of negotiating is not something a junior profile is equipped or authorised to do and you'd need to escalate as soon as possible.

Take a third option

One alternative which may or may not be possible for you is to simply extricate yourself from the conversation. Mail both teams explaining that they've been using you as a communication medium this entire team but this kind of arbitration is outside your responsibilities and you'd tell them to work things out amongst themselves. If you were explicitly told to organise this part of the project his is obviously not an option. Only do this if you can make a clean exit that won't reflect on your reputation or job performance.

  • +1 for a great answer. A thing to keep in mind for option 2: Maybe team "MySQL" has no interest in team "Microsoft" moving forward with the migration because (they fear that) it replaces/phases out/massively changes their own jobs. In that case, some backup from the people who made that migration decision would come in handy. – AllTheKingsHorses Nov 28 '16 at 8:44
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You are witnessing a conflict between team leads leading their teams as silos. I see four cases:

  1. The team leads have resolved the issue themselves, with or without a bilateral pow wow. No intervention required on your part. Because the issue can't be allowed to stall the project and that's why it's going to come to a head. Especially if the company subscribes to Agile methodology.

  2. The team leads have a conference with management that has authority over both of them. Management makes the decision, allocates responsibility and sets accountability among the team leads to resolve the issue. No intervention required on your part. Because the issue can't be allowed to stall the project and that's why it's going to come to a head. Especially if the company subscribes to Agile methodology.

  3. You intervene and asks both team leads to sit down and resolve the issue. You act as facilitator if both team leads accept you as facilitator and request your presence as facilitator.

  4. You intervene and ask management that has authority over both team leads to sit down with the team leads and help resolve the issue either as decider, as mediator or as facilitator.

Two of the cases are passive, and two involve your active participation. Decide which way you want to go.

  • Passive cases seem out of the question already; it's clear from the question that a resolution won't happen automatically. – cst1992 Nov 27 '16 at 19:08
  • @cst1992 - Do you know what you are talking about? Do you know what Agile is? This is a situation won't be allowed to go static i.e. something has to be done either by the team leads or their management. Because the goals/objectives won't be reached and that's a highly visible failure. – Vietnhi Phuvan Nov 27 '16 at 19:16
  • That's what I am also saying. – cst1992 Nov 28 '16 at 5:15
  • @cst1992 - so why are you going around saying that a resolution won't happen automatically? – Vietnhi Phuvan Nov 28 '16 at 6:12
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    Seeing from the question, the two teams are depending on the OP for their communications for the last 3 weeks. So why would it happen that they just sit down on their own and have a discussion? And if it would, then why hasn't it happened after, say, a week? – cst1992 Nov 28 '16 at 6:19

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