Should You Develop New Code Or Reanimate Old?

Should You Develop New Code Or Reanimate Old?

At times developers, project managers or in fact anybody doing IT related work may face quite a puzzling dilemma – you have a project that is currently live somewhere, but users/owners are in agreement that it needs to be revamped, as it no longer meets requirements.

If you are lucky, it will be the actual system that needs changing. In that case you don’t have a dilemma – you just need to develop a new system from scratch, or maybe base some of the design on the old one. But you will actually be writing a new code yourself (or your development team does if you’re a manager).

If you are unlucky, it is the hardware that is out of phase with the latest edge of computing. The actual code stays the same, you don’t need to redesign or redevelop anything, you just have to make it work!

That’s where the real problems can show up, and where you and your client should think about it very, very carefully. If the solution is rather a complicated one, maybe you don’t have documentation of it at all – e.g.. it could be for a new customer coming to you with all they have – this may be a really painful process.

Sure, the customer may think that developing a new system is expensive. Taking into account the cost of users learning that new system, he may be right, but not necessarily. Migrating old stuff seems a lot easier, but you need to think about the whole picture. A migrated system may be rather hard to replicate 100%, there is actually potential to miss huge parts of it, so you end up with it broken in some way. With full documentation you could design a proper testing procedure, but without it anything can happen.

Both yourself and your client need to think carefully about it – both imagining the costs of debugging unknown applications in known, but uncertain, environments to find out why orders are not coming in, or why users can’t do some things in the system. You should both think of the impact it could have on the income and maybe even the company’s reputation.

Maybe at the end you will think “Why we did not agree to redevelop it from scratch in first place.”  If not, you’re the lucky one.

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