IT Transformation Success Means Resisting Existing Systems
You're an architect and you've just entered a new environment: a company in the throes of business and IT transformation initiatives. Your task is to design a new system to replace what's already there, achieving enterprise transformation that yields competetive advantage.
Where do you start?
While there are limits imposed by how you're brought in, the worst thing you can do is to dive into inspecting what already exists.
Because whether you realize it or not, you will be seduced by the existing systems. They may be ugly and ungainly and even ridiculous, but as you examine them, they will start to wear channels of solution in your mind. Those channels will influence how you think later as you build your new architecture. If at all possible, you should start by understanding business rules and use cases. You should interview the key business people, consider how the organization functions and model the business in a normalized fashion.
Only when you reach the more specific system design level, where you need to nail down how your transformation will take place, should you start examining the current functionality. You may still be influenced, and you have to try to resist it, but the guiding star of the fundamental business concepts will help you keep from getting drawn in.
The last thing you want is to artificially bind your solution because you are seeing the environment through the prism of prior solutions.
Keep your mind open, focus on the business requirements, and you'll build a flexible system that not only will help your customer reach effective transformation, but may open up new possibilities that they hadn't originally envisioned.