New employee at startup and found problems


I started a new job at a startupish (2007) company, upon looking at how their system works. I found problems with their database, software, and overall project management. This isn't just errors or coding problems this is overall structure and how things get done, I would say basic stuff. I am actually surprised it has survived so far. Although as a new employee I am still going through probation and I need this job. My question is when or how I should confront them with these issues? I don't want to just go in and tell them how crappy of a job they are doing with this stuff.

Employees Problem

asked Apr 26 '11 at 02:30
21 points
  • Please explain what "basic stuff" covers. – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen 13 years ago

1 Answer


First let me say that the situation you are in is (unfortunately) probably the rule and not the exception. I've been at start-ups where certain decisions were made early on that cause major headaches down the road. These decisions can be architectural (i.e., picking CORBA to do anything), process (not having unit tests or nightly builds), design, marketing, etc.

Nevertheless, you are in the situation you are in.

You certainly have an opportunity to improve the place at which you work. I wouldn't necessarily lead with "your stuff is crap". That isn't going to win you any friends. Besides, they probably know that in their hearts.

Rather, you need to

  1. Describe the problem (or problems) and the impact
  2. Propose a solution
  3. Better yet, deliver a solution

In mind mind an average engineer does #1.

A good engineer does #2.

An excellent engineer just fixes the problem (#3). This doesn't mean they do it all cowboy like. You can bounce you idea off of people, ask for advice and figure out the best answer. But in the end you make it happen yourself.

answered Apr 26 '11 at 02:46
Doug Donohoe
401 points
  • Thanks for the advice, that is what I am thinking, providing a solution to the problems they are having. Although the solution is a big change in their structure. My question is more in how do I proceed in the matter. Do I go into my boss's office and tell him the problems I think they will have? or should I wait for the right opportunity when things are starting to blow up? which potential take a while. Also I am in probation still, so I am wondering if I should be warning them yet. – Scottix 13 years ago
  • I always favor being pro-active. I'm not sure what you mean by "probation" - that sounds like a big-company term. Nevertheless, definitely talk to your boss about it. Maybe he is aware and has some ideas already. How you boss reacts will tell you a lot about what it will be like working with him. – Doug Donohoe 13 years ago
  • Why I said startupish haha. – Scottix 13 years ago
  • Had a similar problem in a software startup I joined after they launched their flagship online product. That architecture was poor, it was suffering from performance problems which required a heavy rewrite, and I had a very hands-on CTO. So I sold the changes needed as my CTO's idea since I knew he was interested in trying a new technology, which if we used would have required honest analysis of the poor performing parts of the product. By the end of six months, we had a better performing site, new knowledge of proper architecture practices, and a happier team. – Nissan Dookeran 13 years ago
  • Thank you, that was actually inspiring. – Scottix 13 years ago
  • Great answer Doug – Nick 13 years ago

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