How to Get a Running Start on a Legacy Project

… and Plant the Seeds for Organizational Change

I’m on a contract that may start winding down in a couple of months1, and so I’m starting to both look backwards and forwards to think about what I’ve learned and what I can do better.businessman_with_the_notebook_1 One of the ways that I think I can do better is to change my attitude toward taking on legacy projects.

In the past, I’ve always been fairly picky about my assignments — I choose assignments which will stretch me as a developer. I also use the interview as an opportunity for me to scope out the employer to see if there are any organizational or development process dysfunctionality that will keep me from doing my job effectively. As a result, I usually shy away from legacy projects.

But I’ve grown more confident in my ability to effect change in an organization, and so here are my list of things to do for getting off to a quick start on a legacy project.

Work the Way You Want to from Day One

… even if you haven’t convinced everyone that your way is the right way way

Coming onto a new project, you can’t always work the way you want to. There are legacy anti-patterns you just have to follow if you want to keep your job, and it doesn’t do you any good to be the new guy who’s always complaining. But the good news is you can just add your best practices on top of the bad ones you have to follow….
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