I work for a consulting company that manages the project I am on. So we are more than just a placement agency that provides contractors. The project is pretty badly managed from the technical perspective. The client is pretty clueless as to what they should be getting for their money because the type of business they are in is not really business so they kind of have an endless supply of funding not subject to the vicissitudes of the marketplace, if you know what I am talking about. So there is room to slack and that, no doubt, takes place.

An example of such slack is that the current lifecycle and integration methodology is a complete train wreck that wouldn't be suitable for a 3rd world country. In such an environment, the consulting company charges the client hours for people on my team who literally manually execute build scripts (which they didn't write) and they call them fancy names like integrators but they are really just button pushers. The kind of thing that continuous integration should do. There is simply no incentive for the company to enhance the process but there are means to do it and would be the ethical thing to do.

I was hired as a developer but I instantly developed a visceral hatred for the lack of automation on my team and I submitted a proposal for how to perform a team process overhaul and institute continuous integration practices. The client should benefit greatly from the mechanism that I have designed. The consulting company that bills hours -- not so much -- because the client will realize they don't need to be paying the "integrators". So the project management doesn't really have a vested interest to enact my enhancement and they are pushing back on it. The CI I put in place literally does the jobs of our "integrators". It automatically builds the changes from source control and deploys them to an environment instance, with no human interaction. The robot does it all.

My boss and PM seem like the kind of people who are somewhere between incompetent (technically at least) and resistant of change. The kind that doesn't want to move forward because they grow comfortable in their established routine and then everything past that point is "too risky". Think of someone who will fight the idea of self-driving cars tooth and nail because they cannot shift their mind.

Now the interesting thing is that my boss's boss, who doesn't work with us directly on site, is a guy who I do respect, minus some of his hiring choices. He is smart, eloquent, and technically competent. He can really drill down into technical details despite being high in management. In short, he's a competent guy, unlike my manager and other string pullers here on site.

So I need ideas how to approach this guy and discuss my concerns for incompetence on my team. My main concern is that, the automation I have set in place (demonstrable in great detail and functional, not a prototype) benefits the customer -- not our company. I need to tell him that my manager is incompetent (there is hardly any other way to put it). I need to get this guy to talk to me. Do I call him? Email? Do I give him details in an email? Lastly but not least, how do I tell him that the ethical thing to do is to push these beautiful automation enhancements onto the client, which may eat on the company profits?

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    "There is simply no incentive for the company to enhance the process but there are means to do it and would be the ethical thing to do." - I don't see how improving the process is something ethical or unethical. At least is may be optimal in any case – DarkCygnus Aug 28 '17 at 22:21
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    If they enact the process enhancement, they may no longer be able to charge hours for a couple of guys who are integrators right now -- because they continuous integration does what they do. There is no reason to pay drivers in you can have a self driving bus. – amphibient Aug 28 '17 at 22:24
  • I would recommend against this for a while variety of reasons, namely that if you are not very confident in how to approach this in the first place, it's probably not a conversation you should really try to manage. Going over your bosses head to tell their boss "my boss sucks" takes a lot of understanding of office politics, of the sort that if you knew would prevent the need for asking this. – enderland Aug 28 '17 at 22:25
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    I don't see how improving the process is something ethical or unethical imagine if you were a plumber who charges an old lady $200 every time her toilet won't flush. you can easily fix the toilet and she won't call you again. but you do it half azzed every time so she does – amphibient Aug 28 '17 at 22:26
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    I did and documented my work so that it doesn't need me to maintain it. Yes, i understand it's hard to believe there are still people left with my kind of ethics – amphibient Aug 28 '17 at 22:33

I'll take a stab at the situation.

My TL:DR response to your situation is to remain professional and present your case as a means for the company to make money rather than lose money in the long run.

As an employee of the consulting company, you have a duty to putting your best foot forward to accomplish the task at hand and overarching parent objectives that you are aware of. Right now, the overarching goal of the company is to (as I presume) to maximize profits. Some time ago, a decision was made, consciously or unconsciously, to integrate the task of executing tasks as a billable assignment to clients. Now from a developer's perspective such as yours, this is a waste of time. But from the company's perspective, this is a low-cost and highly profitable function that customers are willing to pay for, why rock the boat when there is plenty of money flowing in?

Why does Amazon offer a service to help customers install furniture? Why does U-Haul offer a service to integrate local movers for customers renting equipment?

It might not make sense to someone such yourself where time and efficiency is valued, but it makes sense if you approach it from another set of priorities like rent-seeking and profit maximization.

Now back to the topic of remaining professional. Based on your post, you can almost guess (or have already received) a response to your process-reform: your immediate boss will shut it down, the client would be happy but will remain ignorant of the solution unless they are told of it, but your boss's boss might approve.

Here is an idea, why not monetize this workflow process reform as another service for the consulting company?

In the voice of a salesperson:

Speaking from the perspective of industry expertise, often times workflows get congested and overly-complex. Money can be saved by analyzing existing work paradigms and determined if tools or new processes can be implemented to save both time and money. Now, this transition to a new workflow paradigm is not costless, depending on the size of the organization and the degree of industry-specialization required to expertly deduce the best course of action, a preliminary quote would be required. Call today and save!

If it just happens that the button-pushing tasks get canned as a result, the idea here is that money is still made from the expertise to develop and introducing the new workflow process. At the same time, a degree of goodwill is generated as a result of this time-saving function. If you take a step back, why couldn't this service be marketed to other companies?

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The unfortunate truth: going over your boss' head will not work out well for you.

As you say "the company has no incentive to improve process" - if the manager you want to bring this to is as competent as you think, chances are he will already have considered automation and taken it to the rest of the company's management. The company will have made a business decision that the money saved in automation is not worth the loss they would make from no longer billing those hours.

At worst - you might get them to reconsider the automation. They will then come up with some way to drop the "integrators" (essentially, they would become redundant) while still gouging the client with some clever marketing relabelling.

It is laudable that you want to put your clients first - but chances are you will end up being marked a boat-rocker.

At the end of the day - the clients have the option of going to a different consultancy (much like the old lady in your plumbing scenario has the option of going to a different plumber) - but they seem to keep coming back to your company.

If you don't like your employer's policies, the only real course of action is to find another employer with a better cultural fit to your own personal outlook.

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This might seem like a jerk response and may get downvoted (and if you downvote, state why), but here goes...

First, this is way too specific, and not likely a good question for SE.com.

Second, I can tell that you are new to the workforce (likely a millenial, though this isn't just millenial's, every generation does this). After a number of years, people normally become jaded and don't care about efficiency, and such.

Rule 1 of being an employee. Never call your boss an idiot, incompetent, etc. It is possible or even likely that this person was given a tasks that they know nothing about. Upper Management may have given the manager the work because they were available.

Rule 2 of companies. There is no ethics or morals. There are laws, regulations, and profit. (Even in a non-profit, there is income.)

Next. Going over the manager's head... If you insist, maybe consider that you write up a proposal/memo to the department. Review it with your team, review with your manager, and ask the manager if you could or should submit to the boss's manager.

Almost Lastly, if you don't mind getting fired, that's good, because if you continue on your path you might get fired, "downsized", "rightsized", or given the "treatment" to get you to quit.

Lastly, if you don't mind getting fired, then you should quit. Maybe start your own company. Be a consultant and do the work yourself. Marc Cuban got fired, started his own company, and look where it got him.

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    you're right, this is an awful answer – amphibient Aug 28 '17 at 22:34
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    A well-worded, insightful, yet necessary, answer that people should have the opportunity to consider. – Frank FYC Aug 28 '17 at 22:54

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