I currently work on a legacy system for a company. The system is really old - and although I was hired as a programmer, my job is pretty much glorified data entry. To summarise, I get a bunch of requirements, which is literally just lots of data for each month on spreadsheets and I have to configure the system to make it work, which is basically just writing a whole bunch of SQL scripts.

It’s not quite as simple as that, because whoever wrote the system originally really wrote it backwards, and in fact, the analysts who create the spreadsheets actually spend a fair bit of time verifying my work because the process is so tedious that it’s easy to make a mistake.

As you can guess, it is pretty much the most boring job ever. However, it’s a full time job with decent pay, and I work remotely so I can stay home with my son.

So I’ve been doing it for about 18 months and in that time, I’ve basically figured out all the traps to the point where I’ve actually written a program which for the past 6 months has been just doing the whole thing for me. So what used to take the last guy like a month, now takes maybe 10 minutes to clean the spreadsheet and run it through the program.

Now the problem is, do I tell them? If I tell them, they will probably just take the program and get rid of me. This isn’t like a company with tons of IT work - they have a legacy system where they keep all their customer data since forever, and they just need someone to maintain it. At the same time, it doesn’t feel like I’m doing the right thing. I mean, right now, once I get the specs, I run it through my program - then every week or so, I tell them I’ve completed some part of it and get them to test it. I even insert a few bugs here and there to make it look like it’s been generated by a human.

There might be amendments to the spec and corresponding though email etc, but overall, I spend probably 1-2 hours per week on my job for which I am getting a full time wage.

I really enjoy the free time but would it be unethical to continue with this arrangement without mentioning anything? It’s not like I’m cheating the company. The company has never indicated they’re dissatisfied with my performance and in fact, are getting exactly what they want from employing me.

  • 1
    If you yourself are okay doing it and they don't find out it's fine. Not sure about legal implications though
  • 1
    Honestly, you are getting the job done. As life is working for you and your son, I'd say just keep doing what you are doing - but stop entering the errors with a view to maintaining a deception, that's not great. Maybe work on finding a way to automate an export back from the system and compare to the incoming spreadsheets? If you can do the job flawlessly, everybody's happy.
  • 0
    You were hired to do a job. You're doing that job. If you deliver according to expectations everything is fine imho. You may also leverage your position and say that you want more to process (be sure to use this during salary discussions)
  • 0
    Give it time, a new opportunity for improvement will present itself
  • 0
    My opinion as an employer: continue. The thing is, you won't actually help them much by telling them. They suddebly can't justify paying you a fulltime wage - so they won't, even though they would feel bad about it if they are decent.

    At some point your scripts don't work anymore for whatever reason, and they will have to hire a programmer again. So the whole thing repeats.

    Just make sure you don't rely on it only being a few hours too much, because requirements can change and you should still be available to help with other problems as they arise...
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