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Ask Slashdot: Hand it Over For The Greater Good?

rsmith84 (2540216) writes | more than 2 years ago

Programming 8

rsmith84 (2540216) writes "I'm the Senior Systems administrator for a small trade college. When I was hired on it was strictly for L3 related tasks such as advanced server administration, Exchange design and implementation, WAN and MPLS interconnectivity, multi-site routing, yadda, yadda, yadda. They have no in-house programmers, no help desk software, and no budget to purchase one.

I'm a moderate PHP, MySQL programmer on the side and am easily capable of writing something to meet their needs but do not believe I should be a) asked to or b) required to as my job description and employment terms are not based upon this skill set. I like a challenge and since all of my goals outlined since my hire date have been met and exceeded expectations I have a lot of down time; so I wrote the application. It streamlines several critical processes, allows for a central repository of FAQ, and provides end users with access to multiple systems all in one place.

I've kept a detailed time log of my work and feel I should be remunerated for the work before just handing over the code. The entire source was developed on personal equipment off company hours.

My question is what should I do? Obviously if they are willing to pay me, either in the form of a bonus, raise, or even PTO, I will gladly hand it over. However, it's been mentioned that, if I do the project, it is all but guaranteed that I will see no compensation. The application would streamline a lot of processes and take a lot of the burden off my team, freeing them up to handle what I deem to be more challenging items on their respective punch lists and a better utilization of their time and respective skills.

I'm a firm believer in not getting "something for nothing" especially when the skills are above my pay grade."

8 comments

Did they ask first... (1)

unitron (5733) | more than 2 years ago | (#38505786)

...or did you have the idea to create it and and then start exploring whether they'd be interested in such a thing?

Re:Did they ask first... (1)

rsmith84 (2540216) | more than 2 years ago | (#38506026)

I never volunteered to those that were asking about it. I quietly undertook it myself as something to fill my downtime. It just so happens it turned out to function extremely well and would make operations within the IT department run more smoothly. Our current IT director had it on his project list for 2011 but he never got to it and, since he doesn't have the skills to do it, and they wouldn't let him hire anyone outside the company to do it, I thought it would be something I could mock up and provide. But my development has halted when I found out that there would be no compensatory benefit.

Re:Did they ask first... (1)

unitron (5733) | more than 2 years ago | (#38506418)

Sell it to competing schools. : - )

Re:Did they ask first... (1)

rsmith84 (2540216) | more than 2 years ago | (#38506868)

I had considered it but I didn't necessarily modularize this application with that in mind. Yes, I could go back to the drawing board template-base everything so that you can simply run an installation script and choose your logo, add your own content, blah, blah, but what are the ramifications of that? Is the absence of a non-compete enough to exonerate me if I took the product elsewhere? Are there any ways to barter for compensation with this? As it is I'm already drastically underpaid so I am actively pursuing other offers. Every day that passes though is another day my team is bombarded with pointless bullshit because there's no central resource.

Re:Did they ask first... (1)

unitron (5733) | more than 2 years ago | (#38510560)

Well, I guess you'll have to tell your present employers about what you say in that last sentence and then tell them, "I know where you can get a reasonably priced fix for that problem". Don't let them know who wrote it until after the check clears.

Why develop it privately? (1)

Asic Eng (193332) | more than 2 years ago | (#38508618)

It seems it would have been quite reasonable to develop this in the time you were paid for. That would have made it property of your employer and you would have gotten fair compensation. As it is they are asked to buy untested 3rd party software of unknown quality which is not budgeted for. Could be difficult to make that happen.

A third option: rather than just handing it over you could at least make it open source. This way you'd retain the right to use the software elsewhere if you change jobs at some point in the future.

Re:Why develop it privately? (1)

rsmith84 (2540216) | more than 2 years ago | (#38510008)

It seems it would have been quite reasonable to develop this in the time you were paid for. That would have made it property of your employer and you would have gotten fair compensation. As it is they are asked to buy untested 3rd party software of unknown quality which is not budgeted for. Could be difficult to make that happen.

The issue is they are not willing to purchase anything. They've gone through Track-It! And Front Range HEAT. Both with horribly botched deployments that have left a sour taste. They wanted a completely specialized application but they do not want to pay for it; in any way. They don't want to staff it, they don't want to provide a raise, they don't want to compensate. They're banking that someone in my department is harboring the skills or is willing to volunteer to learn to program JUST to be able to do this. They think that programming and IT go hand-in-hand (the fallacy) instead of in parallel with proper bridges making communication between the two possible (the reality)

A third option: rather than just handing it over you could at least make it open source. This way you'd retain the right to use the software elsewhere if you change jobs at some point in the future.

I've weighed this option as well but it means going back and writing an installer as well as converting all static things to dynamically assignable - harder to do when your formatting relies on some images and hefty css. I don't want to have to worry about creating a theme system from the ground up. That's what *shudder* SharePoint and even Google Sites with Lists functionality is for. I guess it all boils down to do is this: do I want to abandon it, keep the source for personal gain later, and just bide my time until a new job offer comes through? Knowing now that it means more of the same ID10T, PEBKAC, and "you're wasting my time with your stupidity" existence populated by the inglorious end-user...

Re:Why develop it privately? (1)

rsmith84 (2540216) | more than 2 years ago | (#38510072)

I neglected your first question. I initially wrote the skeleton and backend programming with the full intention of revealing the functionality to my Director of Operations and was ready to show it; then I found out through some reconnaissance their intentions behind the in-house development. 0 out of pocket. So I kept my mouth shut and finished the application over the course of a week with hopes the attitude towards compensation for the project would change. As I said, PTO would have been acceptable, just something to show the appreciation. But being that I'm so underpaid for my experience and skillset, refusal to compensate for something so above my paygrade has put me into a very Quid Pro Quo mindset. But at the same time, I'm caught up in knowing that my application can make life for my team as a whole much easier.
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