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  #1  
Old 10-05-2019, 11:31 PM
acesCracked acesCracked is offline
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Default How to ask for technical/programming help?

I am currently working in a pretty technical role using software X (dont want to give out the name because its pretty niche) and my team is sort of a guinea pig on this software in our department. My team is one of the very few teams to use software X in the company and the other teams that have used it in the past are located in a satellite campus with which I have no acquaintances in. My team just consists of me and my manager (and another analyst that doesnt do actuarial related work).

I find the documentation of software X to be pretty sparse and my manager said I should ask for tips on software X with an analyst that rotated out of my team a few months ago. The problem is that that analyst is too busy with his new role, and he's not being very approachable. I don't know anyone in the satellite campuses and they all seem to be senior employees so it doesn't seem appropriate for me to ask them for help debugging my code.

When I ask for general advice and tips from the ex-analyst, he tends to be very basic and says stuff like (just type slowly and double check your work).

What I would like is for someone to help debug my code sometimes (when Im stuck for hours) because I spend hours (and multiple days sometimes) working on fixing code and I feel like this isn't being productive to my team nor is it helping be gain my actuarial skillset.

Lately she's been saying that if code isn't working as expected and I'm spending multiple hours, then seek help from the ex employee. I'm not sure what to do in this situation because I feel like my request might be unreasonable (no one should be debugging my code I know), but I do think I'm a little elementary in this language and I can't really understand the error codes the system throws at me. To add a complication, the ex analyst and my manager seem to be good friends because I see them getting lunch often so I don't think my manager will take it well if I tell him that the ex-analyst is unapproachable. Furthermore, this software doesnt have such a great online support community.


I find myself working weekends and extended day hours just to make good on my deadlines... I think i'm working somewhere around 45-55 hours a week now and I'm just a student... and this isn't including the time I spend studying for exams. My productivity is low as a result of working long hours, but I'm not sure what to do. Any advice would be appreciated... thanks

Last edited by acesCracked; 10-05-2019 at 11:39 PM..
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  #2  
Old 10-06-2019, 08:14 PM
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Climbing Bum Climbing Bum is offline
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A couple key comments. From your post it isn't clear if A you're incompetent or B your company is being poorly run. Based on the circumstance I'll give you the benefit of the doubt.

1st: Email has this nice feature called CC: ask very specific questions to said analyst and CC your boss. Also realize, that while it may not be your fault you're in said position it is your problem not theirs. Any help they give you is totally doing you a solid. Be respectful and thankful of any help you get.

2nd: It is appropriate for someone else to be debugging your code. You shouldn't be doing work without having someone else review it, especially at entry level. Not your fault, sounds like your managers fault though it may just be a company issue. This is why soft skills are important, so figuring how to politely convince someone to help you is appropriate.

3rd: Don't bitch to your manager about her not doing you a solid. See point number 1.

4th: I don't know where you work or who you work for so I'm not sure if this is common at your location.

If it is common, you just have to deal with it or get a new job.

If it's not common it may be you or it may be your boss. Feel free to push back a little, or just work less. You won't get fired, and if you don't get promoted or you get bad reviews you'll just have to deal with it or get a new job.
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Old 10-06-2019, 10:38 PM
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Colonel Smoothie Colonel Smoothie is online now
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Imo you should just be upfront about it and tactfully communicate what you just posted here to your boss.

I don't know if your manager is experienced, but it's not a good assumption to think that an ex-employee would be able to offer very much assistance after they've left. Some arrangement should have been made with both the ex-employee and the ex-employee's new boss that they'd be spending X% of their time getting you up to speed for Y number of months, and documented.

In your case, use specific numbers. Say something along the lines that you're going to need more than emails and maybe you'll need that person to help you out for 5 hours a week or however long it takes to understand what they've passed on to you.

Otherwise, if you keep bugging that employee, their boss is going to complain at some point. If you work in consulting that new boss is going to start asking for billable hours.

Also, it takes people to get up to speed in a new job. If the expectations are set accordingly so that it won't hurt you, maybe you're okay. But make sure you're in communication with your boss about this, and the sooner the better. Don't let it linger.
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Last edited by Colonel Smoothie; 10-06-2019 at 10:45 PM..
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Old 10-07-2019, 12:36 PM
Kalium Kalium is offline
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I've had to get to grips with a new (to me) software package a few times.

With specialist actuarial software, your company probably has a contract with the software provider; check if they have a help desk, or offer training courses, user forums etc.

With more generic software, you can often find example code on the net, and most will have textbooks available.

Your manager will appreciate it if you go to him/her with a possible solution rather than just a problem: e.g. "I'm having difficulty getting to grips with this aspect; [ex-analyst] is finding it difficult to find the time to assist; it might help if I could get this book / go on this course etc".
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Old 10-07-2019, 10:54 PM
Alpha12 Alpha12 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kalium View Post
I've had to get to grips with a new (to me) software package a few times.

With specialist actuarial software, your company probably has a contract with the software provider; check if they have a help desk, or offer training courses, user forums etc.

With more generic software, you can often find example code on the net, and most will have textbooks available.

Your manager will appreciate it if you go to him/her with a possible solution rather than just a problem: e.g. "I'm having difficulty getting to grips with this aspect; [ex-analyst] is finding it difficult to find the time to assist; it might help if I could get this book / go on this course etc".


I'd add, see if you can get a copy of the code that was done before. If the ex-analyst has a folder of work that was previously done, sift through it and see if that helps.
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Old 10-11-2019, 01:14 AM
windows7forever windows7forever is offline
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Ask the questions in your Software X forum or google Software X plus the questions you had. Some people even not work in actuarial field but had expertise in Software X could help you tackle difficult questions. You do not have to say you work in actuarial projects. Just ask the specific technical pieces you did not know how to do.
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