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> Reporting An 'unprofessional' Contractor In Another Department    
 
   
JonSmith
post Jan 12 2018, 03:55 AM
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Posts: 3,285
Joined: 19-October 10



Looking for some other opinions on this as I think its a really tricky one talking about someones professionalism / ability to do a role. Sadly I come across various 'developers' who misrepresent themselves and deliver extremely poor work.
For example I recently interviewed a guy who, when I requested a code sample provided some code he'd obtained from a blog written by someone else. Thats not the issue though.

The business I work in is split for financial reasons. One of our staff is working in the other side for 6 months and yesterday contacted me for help with a database. It was a weird set up. The database wasnt split and approaching 1gb with various other smaller issues.
My big concern here is that developer is not splitting. We all now that is basic rule number one. I asked the user to send him Daniel P's setting up a database guide from the newcomers reading list which strongly highlights in red, twice, about splitting.

Now apparently the user asked our side for help as the developer was working on other business critical stuff and that was low priority since other users were ok running the db.

I am now wondering if I should contact the manager of the team hiring him to express my concerns. If he makes critical tools we rely on to do our business and they corrupt etc we have big problems and lose alot of money and in turn consumer reputation. That being said I have reservations challenging someones competence like this....
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nvogel
post Jan 12 2018, 05:02 AM
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Joined: 26-January 14
From: London, UK


Speak to his manager seems like the right thing to do. You could simply point out the problems with his work and allow the manager to make their own judgement about the individual. Perhaps a factor here is whether development is part of their official responsibilities. Many people who create Access databases are not employed as developers at all but it sounds like he's a developer in which case the manager ought to be willing to hear feedback on the quality of his product.
This post has been edited by nvogel: Jan 12 2018, 05:02 AM
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JonSmith
post Jan 12 2018, 05:58 AM
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I can confirm, they hire him specifically as a developer as an external contractor so specifically employed to do this job well and expensive too.
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GroverParkGeorge
post Jan 12 2018, 08:47 AM
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Can you document, and provide examples, of specific problems? For example, have they lost data due to something this developer did or didn't do? Or experienced down-time due to an error of design that keeps the database from working from time to time?

Just saying that his approach to database design is not "industry standard" may not be enough. If the users haven't had specific, quantifiable, problems which can be attributed directly to something this developer did, or did not do, it may not be possible to convince his managers the problems are serious enough to warrant action, if they even recognize them as problems.

For example, not splitting the accdb is generally considering poor practice. However, if there have been no reported corruption problems, no identifiable data-losses, no complaints from users, will his managers see an actual problem with his work? Ask yourself, "So what if he does X instead of Y"?

Also, are you in a position to pit your credentials with his? What is your standing within the company? Someone who previously worked with you came to you for assistance, so that does indicate a realization they have a problem on their hands, or is this an old colleague of yours playing favorites by asking you to help instead of the original developer? I know they are concerned about what they have to use to do their work because, presumably, you've helped them understand more, but does that translate into actual failures leading to lost productivity, etc.

Documentation of specific business problems, with examples and supporting references, are going to be more useful than anything else. I'd cringe at seeing this accdb, too. But can you mount a business case, as opposed to a design theory case, advocating corrective action?

Good luck and congratulations on caring enough about the company's interests to be willing to stick your neck out. Too many people might just shrug and let the responsible department deal with it when the inevitable crash happens.
This post has been edited by GroverParkGeorge: Jan 12 2018, 09:21 AM

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BruceM
post Jan 12 2018, 09:16 AM
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From: Downeast Maine


Poor practice, such as not splitting a database, could work for a while. So could driving a car with bald tires. You could verify that the file is backed up at least daily. If anybody wonders why you are asking, there is an opportunity to express your concern. Of course, savvy managers may be able to interpret that for what it is, which is to say a sort of stealth criticism.

You could decline to help by saying this is not how you would have done it or that it is non-standard, and as such you are reluctant to work on it. In my days as a remodeling contractor I occasionally declined a job because I couldn't understand the approach my predecessor had taken, or recognized a problem such as lamp cord used for permanent wiring inside the walls. Or in any case I would do the job only for time and materials rather than a contract price. It's too easy to break a quirky set-up and end up looking like the cause of a problem that would have revealed itself eventually.

I agree completely with George's thoughts on the subject. Just trying to add a few thoughts of my own.
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JonSmith
post Jan 12 2018, 12:05 PM
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Thanks for the feedback guys. I take this as my concerns are valid enough to take action. I have no reputational concern. I am lead developer for my wing of the company and can go toe to toe. Challenge is that he technically works for a different company.

On discussion with my manager he requested that the business user contact him to discuss so he can further escalate and involve me as required.
Its finance so the issue of risk is huge so I dont think anyone can afford to ignore it.
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orange999
post Jan 12 2018, 12:56 PM
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From: Ottawa, Ont, Canada; West Palm Beach, FL


Jon,

I agree with the comments by George and the analogies by Bruce. And I realize the horse is partially out of the barn on this one. But it seems that there should be some vetting of contractors brought in/hired to do specific tasks. Perhaps, at least, some sort of general guidelines/design procedures for internal and contract personnel. You indicate that the business is financial in nature, so my feeling is the organization wouldn't hire a financial analyst/consultant without some upfront knowledge of their capabilities.
I do feel your concern when this person has been moved to something more critical than the probable/potential corruption you foresee.

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Good luck with your project!
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JonSmith
post Jan 12 2018, 01:20 PM
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Joined: 19-October 10



Agreed. There has been no best practice or vetting, as a result there is alot of mess and risk. I spent the past two years demanding a high standard and dragging the company up to an acceptable level. We still have alot of legacy stuff still to work on and I've had to fight alot with people trying to undermine me and just get something delivered with zero care for supportability or quality.

The issue I think the other wing has is that likely this contractor has the highest knowledge there. No business users know how to design access correctly. Who can vet any new employees?

I have established standards on my side and made our recruitments more robust (knock on is harder to find someone). The other business, I fear, is alot behind us.
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nvogel
post Jan 12 2018, 02:44 PM
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Joined: 26-January 14
From: London, UK


Have you considered using a different DBMS for your data? Given what you say it's interesting that you don't have a problem with developers creating your back end databases in Jet/ACE in the first place. Many people would not consider that good practice.

I guess the wider point is that different standards apply in different environments. In some places Access *applications* are banned altogether on grounds of security and architectural limitations.
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