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Best supporting argument for refactoring

Has anyone got any tips for persuading management that refactoring code is a good idea ? I was asked something like

"After this refactoring, will I have a better product ? How does time spent on this benefit the company?"

Or something along those lines. I can see why management asked it but my response was not fantastic. I said something about how a well designed piece of software will mean that adding new features in the future will be quicker and easier.

Does anyone else have any tips ?

Many thanks.


1 Answer 1


Don't bother.

Rather than selling refactoring as a stand alone feature combine refactoring into your estimates for implementing fixes/ new features when it makes sense to do so, generally speaking the business need not and does not want to know exactly how you plan on implementing a feature, just that it gets done.

  • redesign however is different, you will need management by in then
    – jk.
    Commented Oct 3, 2012 at 8:14
  • I basically agree, but unfortunately it is not always that simple :-( If you have a large heap of legacy spaghetti code, small scale refactoring to keep quality at its current level is not enough. You need a lot of extra refactoring time on top of "normal" development to visibly improve things. And a decision to spend so significant a portion of project time on refactoring should not be made by you, the developer alone (unless management is completely unreasonable - in which case it is probably better for you to look for a new workplace anyway). Commented Oct 3, 2012 at 8:43
  • @PéterTörök yes its arguable you are then straying from refactoring into redesign, so you'd probably approach this by trying to show a cost saving of the course of 1 or more development cycles rather than for an individual change, and yes it would need management by in.
    – jk.
    Commented Oct 3, 2012 at 8:59

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