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I am unhappy with the new processes in my workplace which I perceive are cumbersome and unnecessary. I have addressed this with my line manager, who refuses to push back further up the chain.

Is there anything I can do about this other than accept it or seek to move to a new role?

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    "there's no chance of other people picking up my work because no-one else has my skills." So... if you get it by a bus the company dies with you – bolov Mar 2 '17 at 10:55
  • I don't see the processes as "completely unnecessary and irrelevant", but I also see your point of these processes taking more time than your coding. I think you should strike for a balance. When you bring this to your manager you need solid arguments why the processes should be made more light in your case (use the phrase "adapted to your specific work"). Don't go with a request to completely circumvent them. – bolov Mar 2 '17 at 11:00
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    What was your test & documentation process before this point? Were there test plans, did users test and sign off changes and new features before they went live, or did you do all of this yourself? – user44108 Mar 2 '17 at 11:10
  • @Pᴇᴛᴇ Users wrote their own test plans and signed off features themselves. Documentation was a joint effort: I wrote the PRIDs and technical overviews and collaborated with users to write user guides. – anon Mar 2 '17 at 11:20
  • @bolov Not quite, but yes. What I do is not so essential that the company will die: there will be time to recruit a new person, have them look at my documentation and code and get up to speed. But it will cause serious inconvenience for everyone else in the short to medium term if that were to happen. – anon Mar 2 '17 at 11:21
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Testing and specifications are not time wasting. If you are working on internal systems that could impact the rest of the company, it's correct that they should have these requirements in place.

This is making me rather upset. Especially when my own, previous, lightweight processes worked effectively for years. I have bought my issues with these new processes to the attention of my line manager. His response is, essentially, that these are necessary evils. That the considerable wasted time is worthwhile if there's even a marginal chance it will have a benefit somewhere.

Just becasue something has worked for years doesn't make it correct. They don't see the time as being wasted, therefore they have considered this important to reduce the number of tasks you complete to ensure a higher level of quality and therefore less risk (i'm not saying your work wasn't quality before, but allowing and enforcing testing etc will bring round a higher standard of work).

Without knowing the types of things you are being asked, here are some things to consider?

  • Can you automate tests to reduce effort on your behalf?
  • Can you automate some of the document generation
  • Can you offer alternatives to their methods that deliver the same result but take less time

You aren't going to get rid of these processes. It seems it's a clear business direction to focus more on quality than quantity. If the processes can be improved, engage them with this. You seem to have a very negative attitude towards the processes. Embrace them, try to improve them. If you say

"Boss, I have been looking at process X. Would it be ok for me to tweak it like Y, it delivers the same results but will save me some time".

This approach will lead to improvements in the process that could help reduce the box-ticking exercise you see this as being.

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  • Perhaps I've not explained the issue well - it's hard while keeping the question short. I don't have a problem with the processes themselves, but their application given that I work by myself. If there were a second developer with my skills they would be relevant and would meet the goal of improving quality and that would be fine. The problem is that a lot of them involve harnessing a second developer, which there isn't, so I have to spend time trying to involve people who have no understanding of my skills in what I do. They hate it as much as me. It's just absurd. – anon Mar 2 '17 at 11:38
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    Ok, but I suppose as mentioned in a comment earlier, you have to consider a "Bus Factor" so if someone had to take on your work, they need something in place to help out. With situations where they simply aren't applicable, try to offer an alternative rather than say "I shouldn't have to do this as I work alone". Management will have a requirement to implement this testing approach, so come up with an alternative that lets them do their thing and saves you effort – Andrew Berry Mar 2 '17 at 11:46
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there's no chance of other people picking up my work because no-one else has my skills

and there you go and tell

I either have to [...] or seek an alternative role

Do you see the contradiction here? The work you are currently doing for the company should go on when you leave your position. There might not be anyone currently in the firm doing what you are doing, but if you leave there will be. Also consider the bus factor


So I don't see the processes as "completely unnecessary and irrelevant", but I also see your point of these processes taking more time than your coding. I think you should strike for a balance.

When you bring this to your manager you need to show that you understand their position, you agree that these processes are needed and see their benefits and then you should present solid arguments why and how the processes should be "adapted to your specific work".

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  • thanks for the advice. I do indeed see the contradiction but I have not threatened to leave over this so my line manager may not know quite how unhappy I am. I fear that by making this threat clearo I would undermine my own position and the company would seek to then replace me on their own terms. – anon Mar 2 '17 at 11:26
  • don't threat to leave. If you feel this is such a huge issue for you then find a new job and then quit this one. – bolov Mar 2 '17 at 13:39
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Given the situation, I don't think there's much I can do about this - I either have to put up with it or seek an alternative role. Are there any other approaches I can take?

Not really. The following courses of action won't lead anywhere:

  • Raising with your line manager hasn't led anywhere, as mentioned in your post
  • Raising with your manager's manager, as you are unwilling to do this and they introduced the idea, so challenging it is likely to make conflict
  • Appealing to an outside authority (e.g. HR) makes no sense, as it is a working practice that is quite sensible (it's not illegal, discriminatory etc.)
  • Ignoring the rules is career limiting, as they are in your objectives
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  • Upvoting for the last sentence, the rest is window dressing – Kilisi Mar 2 '17 at 11:29
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Measure your activities in time allocated to certain duties and report this towards your manager together with things you could have been doing in this time. Once he can see for himself that the procedures are only holding you back without any benefit for the company, he should start to reconsider. If he does not, he's not managing you, he's simply delegating commands at you.

Procedures are set in place to streamline the time that people spend. However, the whole double checking things falls under the whole "auditing" department. Which is extremely useful in areas that handle primary processes or handle some form of money. Your department does not do any of this. To have an audit for a department that is purely made to support other departments is only useful if you were picking your nose all day, which you're obviously not.

Now, it's important that you somehow break it to your manager that the company is going have increased expenses due to you having to do this extra work. Also, you need to make sure that the extra auditing has little to no benefit.

Give him an example where you'd be making an error. How much money/time would be lost because of this error? Then compare this to how much money/time the whole auditing costs. You should most likely see that the cost to benefit ratio is rediculous. Give him an example with a very high impact and one with a low impact. Then tell him how likely it is that such errors could possibly occur.

Right there you will have a risk analysis that you could convince him with. If he's still not convinced, you've got the most stubborn manager I've ever heard of in my life.

In short: Show him the benefits of auditing through risk management. Because the benefits he speaks of are far outweighed by the disadvantages.

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But this situation is making me very unhappy. I want to spend the bulk of my time writing code. Right now I'm spending the bulk of my time conforming to process.

Given the situation, I don't think there's much I can do about this - I either have to put up with it or seek an alternative role. Are there any other approaches I can take?

There are other approaches, although I wouldn't recommend them.

You could choose to take a passive-aggressive approach and spend the bulk of your time writing code, leaving no time for the process. Then complain "I don't have time" when you are inevitably asked to deal with process tasks. That would let you do the fun parts of your job for a while and avoid the tedious parts. Eventually, of course, it would catch up with you and result in lower performance appraisals and perhaps dismissal.

You could choose to appeal to a higher authority and go over the head of your boss. Present your case as to why the new process should not apply to you to management. It's highly unlikely that upper management would agree that nobody else has your skills (or ever will) and thus the new process doesn't apply to you. Likely you will become labeled as high-maintenance or simply dismissed.

It's possible you could conform for now and wait it out in the hopes that the new processes will eventually be deemed to cumbersome. That could take some time and might never happen.

In the end we all need to decide if the processes required in our company are something we want to adhere to or not. And if not, it might be time to move on.

In your case it sounds like you enjoyed the semi-cowboy life, don't like a heavy process-oriented shop, and might be better off finding a shop that is more suitable to your preferences. I can empathize with that feeling - I've been there and done that on more than one occasion.

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The plain fact of the matter is this: Your employer decides what processes and procedures that they wish to implement. Unless you run the company, you don't get to decide what to follow and what not to follow if you want to stay employed there. If you want to leave because you disagree, then you're free to do so. If not, you are beholden to the company's rules and regulations, whether you like them or not.

As far as it goes with you feeling they're not needed or warranted: the bosses typically do not assign policies without good reason. You may be unaware of the reason, but that doesn't mean they don't have one. They don't want you to waste your time on frippery any more than you want to waste it. They obviously have a concern that they're trying to cover with the things they're implementing. Unless you're in charge, you're the low man on the potem tole and will have to do what you can (talk to your superior) and hope they listen. Or work elsewhere. Either will work.

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You may not know all the reasons for doing this. We had to adopt similar types of things because they were required for a certification required by our clients. If this is the case that these procedures were adopted for a contractual or regulatory reason, there is zero chance of overturning them.

However, what is of most concern is that you document the impact of performing these procedures on deadlines and project work. Once the full cost in time is known, then, if they are not contractual, you will have the evidence you need to persuade them to consider loosening them. Moreover, if your clients are upset that their deadlines are being moved due to these procedures, you have someone who will take your side against management and the users of your software are far more likely to be effective in pushing back on something like this. You cannot hope to reverse a decision of this nature without allies among your users since you do internal applications. But to get to this point, you need to fully implement the new procedures and document the delays caused in other work. When you do time estimates, make sure you allow for that work as part of the project (and make it a separate line item, clearly visible, when you do). Your project owners may find that they don't want to spend an additional 40% of the time on each project and push back the requirement themselves. This is the most effective way to push back. Remember these testing items are project costs and need to be billed internally to the projects you are responsible for. Let the extra cost and deadlines moved out to speak for themselves.

Even if there is no chance that these requirements will be pushed back, your internal clients need to be aware of the impact on your work. Further, this is a time when you should not be working extra to avoid having those deadlines slip. There is a cost to time-consuming new procedures and the organization must be made aware of that cost by letting things slip because you do not have time to do them.

Remember it is not your place to dictate to management what you want to do, it is your place to do what they are paying you to do and they get to decide if a process is what they want you to spend your time on because they are paying your salary. Yes you can move on, but honestly, in this case, you will find yourself moving on fairly frequently.

In your career, you will often have to perform functions you don't want to do. The next job will have other functions you don't want to do as well. Some of this is pretty much inherent in all jobs. It is unrealistic to expect to spend 100% of your time (or even the majority of time) coding at most places. The business is in business to make a profit, there are more important things to the business than writing code. Just because those things are not personally important to you (or uninteresting) doesn't negate the fact that they are important to the business.

If you want to do only the things you want to do, then start your own business. You, of course, will likely find that there are plenty of things you need to do when you own a business that aren't fun and exciting like taxes and accounting and marketing, etc.

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Whether these procedures make you unhappy or not, that is absolutely up to you. Really, it's your decision. You tried to be allowed not to do these things and it didn't work, so whether you do it or not is not your choice. Whether you enjoy it or not, that is your choice.

I would make a checklist of all the things that need doing (fill in form A, then form B in triplicate, write list C, perform tests D and so on and so on), and then instead of doing these steps and hating every second of it and taking four hours, you do them and enjoy doing them in the shortest possible time, which is probably half the time that you needed before.

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