Bad Bosses! We’ve all Had Some

I think in my time as Web Developer I’ve had my fair share of bad(for lack of a better word) Bosses/Employers. Had my fair share of Bad treatment from people that do not value you. I’ve had Good Jobs, I’ve Bad Jobs.

As a web developer your job hours get a little fuzzy because you are not sitting there lifting boxes with a 10 box quota per day. You have time lines, milestones and ultimately the big deadline on any given project. For each project the project manager will ask you to give a time estimate. Now that’s where the problem starts. Picture this scenario:

Project Manager: So how long do you think it will take you.
You: 5 days
PM: WHAT 5 days just to do that?
You: Go die in a fire. How would you know how long it’ll take me(What you wish you could say)
You: Well, i guess i could do it in 2.5 days(lord knows where you get the 0.5 from) => (What you really say)

And i think we all know how that story ends, you do the project in 2.5 days give or take 0.01 days ;). And a day later you become the ambassador for buggy applications around the world. You win the nobel bug price. And the project manager sits there and looks at you like they have no idea what went wrong.

My point Bad project managers and bad bosses(God forbid your project manager is your boss) have a tendency to second guess developer times. And this second guessing always leads to the developer feeling like he/she is not working fast enough, and every time estimate that the developer gives after that will be to please someone(bad bad bad).

I once worked in company where for about a month i was leaving work at at least 2 in the morning, had no car at the time so you can imagine the amount of money that went to cabs. Don’t get me wrong i am a hard worker. Stop it, i am. I was working on a project that I(me) had given bad times due to the pressure from “above”. A simple project that had i set down and been allowed to do spend a 2 days doing research i would have completed in 2 weeks. DO NOT LET PEOPLE SECOND GUESS YOUR TIME, you end up looking bad.
Always give yourself a 50% buffer i say. So if you know a task will take you 4 days to complete. Always quote 6 days. i.e 4/2 + 4 = 6

Very interesting Article: Evidence Based Schedule

Do NOT be taken for grunted. Do NOT let that Happen. I’m lucky to be working for a great boss, with a great Team. And i thank God for that. My past employers will have to excuse my Rant.

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8 comments

  • Debby says:

    LOL…… Three months later (you’re still shuffling this project among 5 other new potential buggy applications that are all high priority)

    “you doos. How long does it take you to complete a project? You asked for 2.1 days and we gave you more. I’m waiting for December when you ask for a bonus”

  • James says:

    The link for ‘Evidence Based Schedule’ is not working. I’ve usually heard the law of threes: guess how long it will take, and times that by three, because it’ll probably take you longer because of unforeseen circumstances.

  • anban says:

    yeah I’ve done my fair bit of moving timelines tighter for developers. My favourite thing is to trivialise what they’re doing – developers don’t really stand up for themselves… here’s a recent transcript:

    ME: So how long will it take you?
    DEV: About 2 weeks
    ME: Ok but you basically need to drop a view and change a few parameters to a web service – so I’m thinking 2.5 days
    DEV: but we don’t have a mysql db adapter yet…and I still need to-
    ME: (using powers of sarcasm and pseudo code ability!) EL OL EL Dude… ok i’ll put down 3 days and let’s hope you learn how to code up a quick SQL query in your half-day Intro to Programming course.
    DEV:…
    ME: Excellent! 2 days it is…

    After about a day I lodge a complaint with his manager – ” This guy said he could do it in a day and the damn fix is still not yet rolled out!!”

    It feels nice 🙂

    • That’s cause you are crazy. 😀

      But in all your rubbish talk(:D) you mention something very important. Developer don’t stand up for themselves. They don’t. It’s possibly the one most common characteristic in developers. I don’t get it. I used to be like that too. And for the life of me i cant tell you what the problem was.

  • anban says:

    Developers don’t stand up for themselves, and they don’t know how to manage project managers.

    A project manager is supposed to manage timelines, deadlines, milestones, and above all expectations to the business and/or customer.

    A developer should instead of using a rule of thumb/buffer, rather give a rough estimate, and and then interact with the PM to provide updates etc.

    So if asked for a deadline and you’re not sure – rather say that you’re not sure.

    My suggestion is more interactive and borders on negotiation: The more information around how you go about doing things gives the project manager enough direction to manage the rest of the project and build in buffers for you and report uncertainty on your behalf.

    Like:

    I had a quick read through of your mail/spec

    I’m thinking 3 days for basic functionality without testing.

    Also, remember that if you want this thing fully tested I need at least another 2 days to test properly.

    I’m running with 3 projects at the moment as well – I will need to make some time for this.

    So put down 6 days and I’ll look at it a bit more later today and confirm with you tomorrow.

    — If you have a good project manager they’ll build a decent buffer and manage the project accordingly. Much better than saying: 11 days. If you are uncertain about things – be clear and make sure that it’s registered in their heads and on paper(or email). If there’s any doubt, send a follow up email.

    So basically you can’t just give a timeline without explaining the process of your awesomeness to translate into something real.

    • Yeah, what he said 🙂

      And I think you need to be a certain type of person to go in to Development. Most developers are show-offs. True story, we like to impress out friends and family by how smart we are. And this carriers on to our work and other areas of our lifes. We always feel the need to impress the Project Manager at how quick we can get stuff done, cause we are awesome.

      90% of the time we don’t meet those deadlines, Just how it goes. Learn to give good estimates, learn factor in risk in your estimates. That 90% is because developers estimates their times in Vacuum, for lack of a better work, In an idea world were all i have to is go write a SQL query without interference. And then you realise you need to install a SQL driver ;), and poke you friends on facebook and waste company time blogging about time managment, and do lots of other stuff before you even start coding.

      And you can go back and change your times, no. You are superman. You can do it. And then you fall flat on your face. And then every time estimate you give after that is trying to make up for you previous delay. You can guess how this ends.

  • […] or events. Giving time estimates is a skill on its own and a developer does not have that skill as i had to learn it might make them unhappy with their job. Again planning goes a long way. Also be weary of the […]

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