Training Your Replacement

Our system uses an old version of Oracle Reports. It is Oracle Reports 6i to be exact. This is a client/server version of Oracle Reports in which you need to install a report server on your workstation to run the reports. We have a large number of those reports to maintain. Our back end database has kept up with the latest releases from Oracle. Right now we are running Oracle 10g on the back end.

There is one person on our development team who is assigned the reports duties. In fact, that is pretty much all she does. She does not work on the rest of the applications since they are written in C++. She does not know C++. This developer came from a testing background. She is on the development team because she has a big mortgage and needs the money.

We have proposed a couple alternatives to our customer on how we can upgrade our reports infrastructure. One way was to go with the new Oracle way of doing reports. That requires a back end report server, and perhaps even an application server. This is the way Oracle wants us to go. It supports delivering reports over the web. Our reports developer would like this. It would let her leverage her reports knowledge, while she gets to learn some web stuff. Unfortunately our customer turned that idea down. They don’t like having to pay for and maintain back end infrastructure such as reports and application servers.

Instead our customer has opted for us to port the Oracle Reports to C++ code. This poses a problem for our reports developer. She just does not know C++. And that is a language that you just don’t learn overnight. At first this developer said she might have to lean C++. However management has another plan. They have hired a consultant to do the port. I met with the consultant. She seems very proficient. I think she might be able to do the job. The only hard parts will be learning our customer’s domain, and implementing a design that our team lead want.

The main problem with all of this is determining what our old reports developer shall do now. She has a limited skill set for our project needs. Her job is being replaced by a consultant. And now we have her training the consultant on how the reports work. I would not want to be in that position. Maybe she can go rejoin the testing team. In this economy, you must do what you have to in order to hold on to your job. What should our reports developer do?