White Paper: An Agile Approach to Modernisation

November 1, 2009 § 3 Comments

Update: Very annoyingly ThoughtWorks redid their website and my whitepaper and those of others were removed. Here it is.

I recently wrote a white paper and it has been added to the ThoughtWorks collection of white papers here: http://www.thoughtworks.co.uk/what-we-say/white-papers.html.

After having been involved in a few projects whereupon the client has a need to modernise an ageing technology stack, I thought I’d pull together from these experiences (and from those of some helpful colleagues) and do a write-up.

Here’s the abstract:

Gartner makes the prediction that by the end of 2010 ‘more than one-third of all application projects will be driven by the need to deal with technology or skills obsolescence’. The process of refreshing technology platforms – Modernisation – is one that is fraught with risk. From spiralling complexity to software development teams losing business focus, there is ample opportunity for a modernisation agenda to fail.

This paper has been written for the non-technically minded business and information stakeholder without prior knowledge of Agile. It looks at using principles and practices originating from the Agile philosophy for mitigating the modernisation process.”

The actual PDF can be downloaded here: http://www.thoughtworks.co.uk/pdfs/agile-modernisation.pdf

Thanks to Liv Wild and Simon Brunning for peer reviewing, and to Davie Moston and Gaurav Sood for giving me feedback on its various incarnations and iterations.

  • Marijn Bekers

    Nice to see that the agilistas are not afraid of cobwebs and ancient IT relics if they come on their path!
    However, it seems that the entire strategy hinges on
    “pre-existing, supposedly well
    understood business requirements” (p. 4).
    Often in organisations with legacy systems, the original business owners have retired as well as the technicians. The legacy systems tends to work unless you touch it, and that’s all anybody can say about it.
    It seems that this has an important effect on at least the writing of user stories.
    Would the consultants try to reverse-engineer the current application into user stories which can then be validated by the business? Or is there just no hope, leaving only the option to build a completely new system based on completely new specifications?

  • Andrew Marlow

    The links don’t seem to work any more. Can you investigate please?

    -Andrew M.

  • Jon Pither

    I’ve added a correct link Andrew.

    Thanks for the comment Marijn. After since spending 2 years on a large legacy app I would adjust what’s in this whitepaper. I kind of agree with you that there is no hope. I friend of mine quipped “You will never win against the monolith”. The only salvation I think is to rewrite chunks of it in separate services in a completely decoupled and radically different way.

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