Why Rebuild When You Can Renovate?

Friday, 9 September 2016  |  Posted in: Articles  |  5min read

There is a long standing belief that updating web application functionality or even rebranding a website means costly rebuilds that require a heavy devotion of time, energy and resources into a whole new project. Not always so.

A welcome alternative is the renovation of existing legacy code to allow a business the ability to alter their current web application to a level that it can be efficiently maintained, followed and scaled with ease. This makes renovating, opposed to rebuilding, a very feasible option when it becomes too difficult, or cost prohibitive, to maintain the existing system in its current form.

Consider renovating your application code in the same way as renovating your house. Despite needing fundamental changes to bring it up to modern standards, renovating your existing home may be easier, cheaper and less disruptive to your family then an entire new build.


What is code renovation?

Renovating code consists of an audit of the core functionality within existing software and the improvement of, or additions to it, in order to make secure and easily maintainable code changes for the long-term benefit of the software application.

Often the original code carries something called ‘technical debt’, which reflects the extra development work that arises when code that is easy to implement in the short-term is used instead of applying the best overall long-term solution at the projects conception.

Technical debt works the same way as financial debt, and if unpaid can accumulate interest, which over time can grow in the form of extra development work to make further changes and improvements. Renovating code works on the basis that the foundations of an application remain, but fundamental changes are made to both the software itself and the development process to keep the existing software current and in-line with a business’ growing needs both now and in the future.


How can code renovation help your business?

Often the primary concerns for a business when considering an upgrade to their website or application are time, money and the strain on the resources involved. Especially if the existing solution required a significant investment of all of those factors to implement initially.

Renovating the existing code can ensure minimal disruption to productivity, as it may focus on a certain area or aspect of the overall site, making gradual and continuous improvements one piece at a time.

 With the right techniques, renovating code provides the opportunity to make new decisions and open the door to further functional possibilities without the typical costs and associated risks with embarking on a completely new development project.


When should code renovation be considered over new development?

There are always risks associated with any form of development, whether a new build, ongoing maintenance or a renovation. The idea behind renovating code is that what exists is beyond the point of maintaining, but the value of it to a business is far greater than scrapping it entirely and starting again.

Code renovation should always be done unless;

  • The technology that the current system is on demands a rewrite
    • For example, if the hardware it operates on is no longer maintained or the platform is so old that nobody has the skills to maintain it.
    • If the application needs to go from a desktop application to being web based.
    • The content management system needs to change (if the current one is no longer maintained or the license is prohibitively expensive).
    • Legal and/or security reasons.
  • The new application would be significantly different to the old application.
    • Such as, if renovating it would require significant architectural changes.
  • The vast majority of the business logic is no longer applicable.
    • The new application would be trivial to build.


What is the typical cost of code renovation compared to a new development?

The renovation of code should always be the first option to consider, especially if the cost is less than that of rewriting the application and implementing the organisational changes needed to support it.

We review each task with your timeframe and budget in mind and advise based on experience and knowledge at hand what we feel is an achievable turnaround or target. Approaching it in a time and materials manner often serves all parties best to reduce the risk or impact on deliverables, rather than offering a blanketed overarching quote that may not factor in allowances for unforeseeable risks.


What is our process for implementing code renovation?

At The Digital Embassy, our approach to code renovation starts with an audit of the current code and its functionality. We identify the core functionality and through extensive automated testing ensure that what exists currently is protected, and that no new features impact performance or compromise the business objectives that the software addresses.

A staged environment is setup where we carry out manual testing procedures before code changes are implemented and a high level deployment process is put in place. Consistent coding quality practices are followed and documentation is written to ensure future developers are able to easily understand and grow the new code with the needs of the business.

To enquire about how renovating existing software code can work for your business, Contact Us to help you map out the first steps towards a digital solution that evolves with you and your business.

Ready to talk about your requirements?

Phone us on 1300 375 368 for an obligation-free chat with a digital specialist about how we can help to scale up your business online.

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