“Ask why. Ask how. Ask whether it makes sense. Ask what if not.” - Christopher Danielson
The saying “change is the new constant” truly applies when catering to a highly competitive market where software and technology are ever-present. Trending, brand new technology rules the roost, and if your project fails to catch eyes, hearts or minds, it may be time for rebuilding.
A Complete Rebuild or an Incremental Rebuild?
Deciding between the two during the product engineering process is a subjective and complicated decision. There are two key factors to look for: the cost associated with rebuilding and the risks involve with postponement.
To aid in your decision, you must look for obvious signs that rebuilding the software system is inevitable.
Every system has a lifespan that’s determined by the technology. Is it still relevant or is it outdated? Is it becoming obsolete? Are there newer and better alternatives available?
The technology may no longer be supported, and in order to work properly, you may have to perform a legacy migration. This can be a nightmare in terms of coding and maintenance, and there may be no point in trying to plug the holes. Rebuilding may be your best bet for time, productivity, efficiency and cost savings.
The Developer Ramp-up Time Is High
When the original product team is gone and it’s become more difficult to find talent to run your legacy software, it may be time for a rebuild. New software and system redesign will eliminate the frustration of time-consuming maintenance and bug fixing.
High Maintenance Costs
Is the cost of maintaining older infrastructure breaking budgets? Do slower processing speeds, inefficient real-time capabilities and lack of agility contribute to high maintenance?
Is the existing software not scalable? And with increased usage and technical requirements, plus the need for more storage, is your system cracking under the pressure?
Adding up the total cost of ownership for all these problems can be a real eye opener. Perform an audit to help quantify the financial impact of both continuing and rebuilding the software. Make sure it includes:
- The cost of hosting hardware
- The cost of replacement hardware
- The cost of maintenance staff for hardware and software
- Licensing fees
- Maintenance fees
- The cost of time spent bridging gaps in functionality
- The cost of errors due to manual mistakes
The sooner you assess the cost of rebuilding, the sooner you can see the benefits and increase your return on investment.
Take an honest look – is the competition offering better tech and ease of use? If you’re experiencing a decline in renewals and increasing churn of current customers, a major technological shift to mobile and cloud may be your best rebuild option.
This can help your product stay relevant and competitive. It may also offer a solution to fix poor UX and performance issues that are causing you to lose customers.
The Generation Shift in Customers
Your emerging customer base has different expectations compared to the previous generation. A rebuild can help you address new expectations and demands.
How to Approach a Legacy System Rebuild
Cost and availability of resources are critical factors when rebuilding software. With a legacy system, things can get even more complicated. You need to consider a host of potential problem areas, including:
- Real-time capabilities
- Processing speeds
- The ability to support mobile devices
- Application integration
You need to identify the gaps.
Perform an Assessment of Your Current Software’s Capacity and Limitations
Are there problems with your legacy system? Are you experiencing a lack of automation, insubstantial documentation, outdated frameworks or inconsistent codes?
Does your legacy system not support new mobile platforms or devices? Lastly, are you missing the talent and expertise on staff to work on the system?
If you answered yes to any of these, you will need a partial or complete rebuild.
Partial and Complete Rebuilds
Although rebuilding software from the ground up has benefits, it can require a substantial upfront investment. If the majority of the components of your legacy system are still fully functional, it may be better to consider a partial rebuild.
However, a custom software system tailored to your unique needs may provide immediate and solid improvements that justify the investment, especially if it aligns with future performance goals. In this case, a complete rebuild is your choice.
The ABCs of Rebuilding Software Success
When rebuilding a legacy software system, keep in mind how easy it is to underestimate the demand of a complete rewrite.
Partition the job into smaller chunks and gradually replace components of the old code one by one. You can do this by setting up a system where the legacy software and new software coexist, running parallel to each other.
By redesigning incrementally, you get the opportunity to reuse at least some parts of the existing design while also having the freedom to improvise.
Architectural: The Agile Approach
The Agile approach, or incremental rebuild, is considered the most effective tactic for rebuilding software, as you rebuild the software over a series of steps while ensuring two critical points:
Retaining the UX of Legacy Software
The highly competitive technology market has made it tough for customers to keep up, thus making them reluctant to take on major UX updates.
When you plan for a partial or complete redevelopment, make sure you don’t overwhelm current users as they are already invested in your existing design.
When you’re making major changes to the back end, it’s important to have a deep understanding of these existing users. Analyze their journey and incorporate their insights and feedback while retaining the UX of the legacy software.
Parallel Existence of Old and New Systems
It’s sometimes compared to rebuilding a plane in the air, but as crazy as that sounds, don’t let it intimidate you. It simply means that you keep the legacy system flying by running two systems parallel to each other until you can fully migrate to the new version.
This lets you factor in user’s views and improvise new software for more relevance and productivity. The Strangler Pattern Approach also allows you to build a new system around the existing one and then incrementally migrate functionality.
You transform, co-exist and eliminate to create incremental value in a much faster time frame.
Business Value: Behavior-driven Development
It’s critical to know what you’ll be building. Also, choosing the right business-driven development process means that you’ll ensure closer collaboration between developers, testers and product owners.
This will make sure that all new functionalities are vetted between all stakeholders so you can arrive at the appropriate acceptance scenarios. These scenarios can then be automated by the development team using tools like Behat and Cucumber.
The Continuous Delivery Process
Continuous delivery helps keep the focus on quality for a legacy rebuild with no delay on testing. It ensures that the changes are built and tested with the latest version of the entire codebase.
As a result, it:
- Eliminates DIY for continuous delivery
- Automates repetitive tasks
- Makes deployment frictionless
- Connects existing tools and technologies
- Improves overall productivity
The Cygnet Way
Whether you decide on a partial or complete rebuild, Cygnet Infotech is here to help. We know the ins and outs of product engineering software design and rebuild projects, and we’d love to give you the best possible advice for your situation.
Contact us today to discuss your software rebuild options.