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My programmer is falling and resisting

By fajarpri ·
Dear all,
Our company (an educational institution) is moving from MS based products to Open Source ones, e.g. from MS Access, VB, MSSQL, to PHP and Postgresql, due to cost consideration.

I'm a relatively new manager (approx. 2 years), and I support the movement. However, most of my programmers' skill is in MS products only. For this, the top management decided to outsource the development of the new software, while the current staffs maintain the current programs.

I'm having difficulties in taking my programmers to participate in the development of the new program in a way of giving information on the current programs so that the developer can make a better one. Their motivation is falling and they resisting to give information.

Any idea how to handle such thing? I'm on the end of my patience and I'm thinking of firing some of them. Thanks.

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Who Moved My Cheese!!!!!!!!!!!!

by Debon In reply to My programmer is falling ...

Hello fellow IT professional, I suggest you start by putting yourself in your staff's shoes and asking yourself the big question. Am fairly sure the most pressing question in their minds is "Are we going to lose our jobs after this change is completed?". Based on what you have said so far, it doesn't look too good for your present staff as they are not being trained to acquire the skills set needed to carry the new system upon its completion and they are not part of the development process. In fact through their eyes, it seems that all the Company wants from them is information about the old system for input into the development of the new system. It looks to me like self preservation has already kicked in; it is said "It is usual to expect persons to act in their own interest, and unreasonable to expect otherwise". The group theorists say "...persons will stick together to face a common threat....".

Regardless of the answer to the question, you have a need that must be met right now (i.e. for info about the old system to be given to the developer of the new one to make it better in the long run). You could start by drafting up a training schedule and commence training them in PHP and any other skills they may need in the future. Database design remains the same regardless of the software environment in which it is placed and while I am not familiar with Postgresql (I am a MySQL person) I believe that the actual commands should be somewhat similar. In fact they should be able to map each command from MS Access and MSSQL to Postgresql with very little difficulty. They would have already been using about ODBC connectors etc so that should be a plus for them.

Firing may not help as you would end up losing valuable information that is needed for input into the development of the new system. Beyond that though, you need to talk with your staff, let them feel like they are a part of the process. It may be late now but try to get them involved; am hoping that things have not deteriorated to the point where there is a complete lack of trust. Let them know that while everyone cannot be involved at this stage, information is needed from each of them to feed into the development of the new system. Get their input into the design phase as well; you have to sell it to them that they will be required to maintain the new system when completed so it is very important that they commence learning about it from now.

Above all be honest with your staff, if there may be displacements, say so, discuss strategies that may be used to offset displacement e.g retraining and redeployment to other areas. You sound very down yourself. SNAP OUT OF IT VERY QUICKLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!.

Get creative with your staff let them know that upon completion of this project there will be a "New Look" IT department and that you want them ALL to be a part of it. Let them know that one very important requirement for being in the new look department is how well they handle change. Am sure they are all aware that technology is a very dynamic field and part of the whole dynamics is change of the knowledge entity itself. Let them know that as technology changes, the knowledge necessary to manage it must itself be changed from time to time, and that this is one such moment in your company. You must be bursting with motivation and exuding confidence about this project and you must influence your staff to experience it with you. Good luck and CHEERS!!!!

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The training is on the way

by fajarpri In reply to Who Moved My Cheese!!!!!! ...

Hi Debon.
I indeed want to give the necessary training for them. I've already asked HRD about this. Yeah, maybe I'm just too emotional, because behind of all this change from MS to Open source thing, there is a lot of office politics involved. My immediate boss is a supporter of the old system (he developed it), while his boss (my big boss) is fans of Open source. So, in the management side, there is also bad politics, whereas I'm as middle management got stuck between them, and thus also my staffs

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Lots of good advice!

by Gryfon In reply to The training is on the wa ...

As a PHP programmer, I'd suggest buying a copy of PHP for Beginners or some such excellent wrox book and letting your programmers take a peek. It's very simple to use, and once they see that, they'll (hopefully) become absorbed in learning how to do it.

For experienced programmers, they probably won't even need classes to get going if you let them work through some of these books. Of course training always helps round things out. PHP is based on C and C++, so all of the logic structures are already developed.

Good luck, wish your team 'good luck' from us here at Tech Republic forums, too! :-D

Gryf

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Caught Between A Rock & A Wonderful Place!!!!!!!!!!!!

by Debon In reply to The training is on the wa ...

Fajarpri, I understand how you feel, being caught up in the office politics and such; however as unwilling as you might feel right now, you have got to learn to play the game if you wish to survive. Lets look at ths situation, your immediate boss is against the migration to Opensouce while you bosses boss (i.e. your big boss) is all for it. You stated that your boss developed the present system which may be a factor why he is against moving from it. I suggest you present him with the savings which will acrue to your company as a result of moving to open source. There doesn't have to be any payments for licences or royalties etc. Based on present payments, total this over say a 2 to 3 year period and show him the figures. Let him know that he will be saving the Company money while broadening the skills set of his staff. Suggest that he can minimize training cost by ensuring that the present staff are part of the development team and that they are trained to maintain and carry it upon completion. Let him know that he made a major contribution in the past when he developed the present system and that he can now make another perhaps even more major by leading the Opensource migration, in keeping with industry trends. You have to learn how to "Manage your manager" in such a way that you get him to do what you want done in the first place. No matter how badly you feel about the office politics, you cannot let your staff know that you feel this way. You have to keep up appearances and try to get the job done. CHEERS!!!!!

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Agree with migrating employee skills

by stress junkie In reply to Who Moved My Cheese!!!!!! ...

I agree with Debon. I recently read a post here on TR where a MySQL person said that MS Access could interface with MySQL. That could be a good starting point your in house people to perform the migration themselves while learning the new ( Postgresql ) platform. Maybe even your boss would be interested in the process and might want to oversee and/or participate in the migration.

You can sell the idea of learning the new platform to your employees both because they would continue to work in their current positions and also because they would be expanding their skill set. It seems that the tide is turning against Microsnot at the corporate server level. Your people should be able to see that they may benefit in the long run by learning platforms other than Microsnot.

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