According to Wikipedia, refactoring in software development means the process of changing the structure of a program's source code manually or automatically, without modifying the external functional behavior of the software.
Refactoring is software architecture preceded by an analysis of the previous system - in many cases data migration is also required. Two to three activities for which experience is worth more than characteristics like creativity and enthusiasm.
Professionally performed refactoring offers you three decisive benefits:
1. Analysis and documentation of the current state of your software
The very fact that your product managers can present the strengths and weaknesses of your application - and by necessity, determine whether their own documentation is up to date in the process - means that you obtain valuable information, the documentation of which constitutes the first step toward a new version. Of course, you cannot take advantage of this benefit if your documentation is already informative, comprehensive and up to date. But let's be honest ...
2. Design and implementation of an appropriate software architecture
A program that has not grown to keep up with current demands is nothing to be ashamed of. No other science has innovation cycles shorter than information technology. It is normal, if not inevitable, for even designs that are absolutely correct at the time of production to turn out to be less than optimal years, or even months later. Practical experience has shown that an updated software architecture can never be designed by exactly the same team as the original. Man is a creature of habit ...
3. Future-oriented deployment through modeling
At the end of refactoring, a clear understanding of the restructured software's performance is accompanied by its current documentation in the form of models. This means you are optimally prepared for coming developments, since up-to-date models are the point of departure for every implementation in modern development processes. The deployment of generative software development - put very simply - makes it possible to provide for different target environments by merely adjusting the stable models applied to the generator.
Why should you consider refactoring ?
It's not that you should - you must! Applications have their limits. As mentioned above, this is rarely the fault of the applications alone. The limits are what keep changing. And in information technology they move more quickly than in any other science. Two examples:
Just because AJAX is available today to make a web application look like a desktop, this does not mean that your decision back then for a classical web application with all the associated disadvantages was wrong.
The desktop database application you developed contributed so much to your company's success that the size of the user group today has become larger than anyone imagined at the time it was developed. Irregular but recurring problems with performance and stability have made clear the necessity to transfer the application to a stable, transactional database system.
The list of examples in which refactoring is not a potential, but indeed an imperative tool for resolving the problems on which your economic success depends can be extended more or less infinitely. But since you're visiting this web site, you are obviously well on your way ...