Forging the Path Forward with a Brownfield Project

February 5, 2021 - by Synoptek

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In today’s business landscape, software forms the foundation of every product or service. Given how critical the right software is to businesses, choosing the appropriate development approach is vital to the success of your software. Although Greenfield Projects are popular, they carry a higher degree of risk.

On the other hand, Brownfield Projects are those that are built on a more stable infrastructure and known business processes, making them less prone to risk. Yet, for unmatched success, they require substantial effort and careful planning. Read on to find out how you can forge the path forward with a Brownfield Project.

What is the Meaning of a Brownfield Project?

Brownfield software development refers to the efforts teams put in upgrading or updating existing software and systems. Instead of building a product from scratch, it deals with making modifications, introducing changes, or enhancing features of an existing product. Since teams must work with previously created code, the changes they consider must coexist with systems already in place – to enhance existing functionality, capability, or performance.

Adding a new module to an existing enterprise system, introducing a new product feature, or upgrading code are all examples of Brownfield Projects. They provide a great place to start and a clear direction on what improvements to bring about in existing technology solutions. And since they allow existing code to be reused to introduce new features, they allow teams to work with defined business processes and technology solutions.

How Much Effort is Required in Development?

Although the effort in Brownfield Projects is far less than what goes in Greenfield Projects – because a development landscape is already in place – teams need to spend substantial time and effort in understanding the underlying code. For success, teams need to have detailed knowledge of systems, services, and data, and how new improvements or updates will impact their functionality, performance, and security.

When working with Brownfield Projects, teams need to make changes such that they integrate seamlessly with the prevailing business landscape. They need to reliably re-engineer existing environments and turn them into competitive and integrated architectures that meet the evolving needs of customers and the market.

Just like with Greenfield Projects, success in Brownfield development is best achieved by using an iterative approach. Using methodologies like Agile can help in refining existing logical and physical architecture while empowering teams to accelerate development, improve product quality, and minimize defects.

The Risks Involved

Even though Brownfield Projects are easier and quicker to develop than Greenfield Projects, they still carry a small degree of risk. While working on such projects, teams need to be well-versed with challenges such as:

  • The constraints of existing legacy systems and thorough understanding of the challenges in development
  • Re-engineering a portion of the existing environment and making them operational to meet the new business requirement
  • Dealing with legacy code in a way that it doesn’t add to overall development time, cost, or effort
  • Finding resources with legacy skills in a market that’s already dealing with a dearth of qualified talent
  • Using tools that can deal with environmental complexity such that it doesn’t drive up maintenance and integration costs

What are the Costs?

Since the foundation is already built, Brownfield Projects often require less effort. But due to the substantial dependency on older, legacy systems, costs are often high. The presence of monolithic code with poor security, lackluster features, and poor integration capabilities means teams must invest heavily in upgrading the system to meet modern business requirements. Costs often include:

  • Talent: Hiring resources with niche skills and experience to work with legacy code
  • Tools: Investing in modern tools and technologies to re-engineer, re-architect, or re-host the existing system
  • Time-to-market: Delayed development costs that arise due to the complexity in dealing with monolithic systems

Moving Forward with a Brownfield Project

As the pressure to keep up with evolving business and market demands increases, many organizations are looking to upgrade and update their legacy software and systems and make them capable for today’s world. Brownfield development allows such organizations to work on their existing products and introduce feature changes and improvements for improved ROI. Successful implementation requires organizations to be aware of the many risks and costs of Brownfield development as well as have knowledge of best practices and tools to overcome those risks. Partnering with a Product Development Services company can allow them to make the most of expert talent and ensure they get maximum returns from their existing IT investments.

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