Overtime

After all that, back to work.

Work has been busy. After all the issues and delays, we finally went live with ‘our’ project last week. It went as well as could be expected in the circumstances, which is to say that there were bugs and blips, which we’ve been working through since, but the core functionality works.

The go-live was greeted with a glee I thought inappropriate, but that may be that I’m a grinch. In my mind, this has been a very poorly run project, and there’s hardly cause for celebration or self-congratulation. If nothing else, celebration was premature given the work that still had to be done.

I’ve been working 8-10 hours, and that’s true even on the day I had to visit the Alfred to discuss my hyperbaric treatment. That night I worked till 10. I get paid for four hours a day.

In a sense, I don’t mind. I feel a sense of obligation to get things right – obviously, a sense not everyone shares. I enjoy the challenge of getting things right, and though it isn’t officially my project, I feel some ownership. As it will all revert to me to manage when I’m back full-time, that’s understandable.

What I resent is the expectation that I will do this, which is worse when others decline to do the same. I feel a bit used, especially when so much of what I’m doing is saving the PM’s arse.

Besides the various functional problems we’ve had to address post-live, another serious issue emerged a couple of days later. Without going into too much detail, we’re replacing one application with an alternative app and the general brief that it should be ‘like for like’. For the most part, it is – my design and architecture have been replicated in the new app. The fundamental difference is that they’ve added a contact form upfront, but no-one bothered to check with legal to see if that was alright, particularly regarding the privacy statement.

That’s a rookie mistake. It should have been done months ago if not last year. As I tell the guys, you have to tick all the boxes; otherwise, it will come back to bite you on the arse. So, of course, when we belatedly informed legal (after an argument with the PM), they told us that yes, it has to be fixed, and you have a week to do it.

For much of the project over the last few months, I’ve felt like a backseat driver. I could yell things from the backseat, but I didn’t have my hands on the wheel. Some of what I said was ignored, and some of it – belatedly – was acted on. I was absent for the first 7 months of the project, so I didn’t know all the discussions and decisions made, and none was documented. Some I was able to deduce, but so much more you don’t see until it’s in a production environment.

The PM stuffed up the legal thing, and it will cost money to fix it. I don’t think he’s told anyone above him, and our argument was about whether we should take it to legal at all. He wanted to quietly fix it. Me, I want to do these things by the book – besides, I might think what legal will say, but I don’t know. Let the experts do their job; we’ll do ours.

I find it hard to be angry with the PM. He’s a nice guy, and he’s out of his depth. He knows it, I think, which is why he’s made himself scarce, and I’ve had to work 8-10 hours every day. He hung up on me the day after we went live. I was still in bed when I got a call from a delegation of senior Ops stakeholders reporting problems and wanting to get them resolved. You may ask why they came to me rather than the PM, but maybe the answer is self-evident by now.

I did the right thing and called the PM to advise him of the conversation. We’re looking into it, he said. Well, I replied, it might be a good idea to tell them you’re doing that. You can tell them, he said, with unexpected heat. But I don’t know what you’re doing! I responded.

Managing stakeholders has been a problem throughout. The project team are poor communicators and seem oblivious of the need to keep stakeholders informed – not as if it isn’t project management 101. If nothing else, people need reassurance. Projects that impact your job are stressful for the people concerned. Best is to keep them informed all along the way and bring them into the conversation. Silence makes them nervous, and they begin to fear the worst.

So, yeah, I’m sooking a bit. It’s just that I’ve been trying to get the half-day I’m entitled to and maybe a day off in lieu, but I can’t do it because the PM isn’t pulling his weight. The guy who urged me to work longer when I still felt crook from recovery has taken two half days off in the last week and has now come down with Covid. It’s not that he was doing much when he was online, but it means I have to step up to save his project.

I don’t know if people understand, but up to the last couple of weeks, there wasn’t a day when I didn’t feel unwell by conventional standards. You get conditioned to it and work through it because you must. I lost the hearing in my right ear again yesterday and earaches with it. I thought, okay, I’ll take it easy Monday. I woke up with my hearing restored (and I think it’s okay), but I’ve got no choice but to work a full day because there’s no-one else available.

By my reckoning, the business owes me between 80-100 hours of work I haven’t been paid for. It would be easier if they weren’t so fucking blase about it.

Hopefully, by the end of the week, everything will have settled. I’ve done a lot to make the PM look good, but I also think that a lot have recognised my value through this, and I can only hope I get some reward for that.

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