Imagine a run down shack. The kind I’m thinking of is like the cabin my grandfather bought in the late 60’s. It was about 16’x20’, built in the 30’s and then left to rot. It had wooden blocks for its foundation, it sagged about a foot in one corner as the wood blocks shifted and rotted, it was musty, moldy and damp. It was the very definition of deferred maintenance. A menagerie of non-human mobile life forms called it home. It was a shack, kind of like the one pictured here.
There are applications like that, lots of them. We probably all know where they are. Most of us will only have to look someplace in our data centers. Think of an old shack when you think of those applications.
Back to your rotting application - the one with the unsupported operating system and database, broken data model, the dead, archaic, insecure code that nobody understands. Are you re-skinning it to look nice? Are you grafting on features and business logic onto the sagging foundation? Or are you digging out a new footing and pouring concrete?
The business unit doesn’t know or care about the foundation, they only care about the user interface and the features. Our job is to convince them that they need to spend time and money on the foundation, not just the features.
Tell them the story about the shack in the woods.