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I am currently working for a small-medium sized company (~50 employees) as the sole IT staff.

Recently, we are on track to replace one expensive yet critical legacy system in favor of an application I am currently working on during my free time at work. However, its been very busy lately with issues spawning left and right so the development of the application has been lagging a lot.

How do I ask a very thrifty management to hire more programmers to help me build the new application without sounding incompetent.

FYI. I do support of all our applications, setup and administration of the network and servers and in-house application development.

EDIT 1: Nature of the Critical Legacy System for added information

The Legacy System is the center of our operations. Basically, all our reports, notifications and data are being handled or are passing through this system. We want to replace it for a few reasons:

  1. We are bleeding money paying for support that is rarely helpful (really terrible support) plus licensing cost.
  2. Ridiculous cost for adding new features (500$ to adjust the width of a column in a report)
  3. System Design/Architecture problems that cause the system to be slow and unscalable (Other branches find the system unusable because of how slow it is when used outside of the Office LAN)
  4. Its a program made with access '97. Need I say more? It still works but its like trying to cut something with a dull blade in terms of performance
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@gnat thanks for the comment, however the question you linked doesn't answer my question. –  Maru Oct 10 '13 at 7:44
    
how's that? per my reading, it does –  gnat Oct 10 '13 at 7:48
    
honestly it looks like this could be a better fit on workplace, you can take out the programmers part of it and it is just asking management to add to your team –  ratchet freak Oct 10 '13 at 7:59
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If you are the only one building the new app, what about assigning you full time for this dev-job, and have a new hire or temporary hire to do your current ops-job in the meantime? –  Marcel Oct 10 '13 at 7:59
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ok, fair enough. My apologies for not being able to infer that just by looking at the answers. Though I still wonder how to present this information to management without sounding incompetent. I fear that management might think that I'm unfit for the project that's why I'm seeking for additional programmers, which may later on cause me to get fired in favor of the new hire/s. Again, I'm a one man team and I'm still fresh from college that's why I have these insecurities. –  Maru Oct 10 '13 at 9:19
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marked as duplicate by gnat, Dan Pichelman, MichaelT, Kilian Foth, World Engineer Oct 17 '13 at 0:14

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2 Answers

up vote 11 down vote accepted

This is what we did in a similar situation. It's kinda scrum in a nutshell.

Gather the stakeholders (consumers of IT services, director level). Tell them, "I am spending X hours a week supporting the legacy system and doing my other tasks. At the rate of 40-X hours a week, I cannot deliver the replacement system before mm/dd/yy (you know, plus or minus). Beyond my salary, you will also spend $Y for maintenance of the legacy system during this time, and have to put up with its limitations. Is this what you want, or shall we re-prioritize or add staff?"

If they reprioritize, you win. If they add staff, you win. If they stay the course, they cannot blame you because they made the decision, and you at least don't lose. They have had to balance their thrift against the cost, instead of pretending they can have everything, and being angry that you didn't perform the miracle. They may choose thrift. You'll have to accept their decision, but you can feel better about making slow progress, because it's what the company has decided. Often there are stakeholders who are more excited about the new tool, who will do your arguing for you, especially if other stakeholders are arguing against.

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You have to make a value proposition. Explain in terms that management will understand how much money it's going to cost them by not adding additional software developer(s), and how that cost is going to exceed the cost of the new developers.

Of course, it might actually be less expensive for them to just let you do it in your free time. You haven't told us much about the nature of the legacy system, why it is critical, or why your company wants to replace it.

If they really can't afford to hire more staff and are willing to wait it out, ask them to carve out a specific amount of time each week (say, 8 hours) that is sacred time for you to work on the system, where nobody interrupts you while you are working on it.

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For the value proposition, any advise on how to verbalize non-tangible returns for ROI? i.e. less errors, increased productivity, less employee frustration... It's my first time working as a one man team, so I'm still green when talking to non IT management about the economics of software development. –  Maru Oct 10 '13 at 6:56
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Since they're already letting you work on the application, they probably already understand the intangibles. I would focus on the monetary gains; based on the additional detail you added to the question, it would seem there's plenty to discuss in that area. –  Robert Harvey Oct 10 '13 at 15:47
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