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Everything You Need to Know About Technical Debt

By March 16, 2022March 20th, 2022No Comments9 min read
Technical Debt

A good software project is only possible if you are properly managing your technical debt. If you are ignoring your technical debt, then it will lead to higher development costs. Thus, your business rewards will be reduced. It is important to ensure that you are properly managing your technical debt as it will help you in growing your business. In this article, we are going to talk about technical debt and its impact on your business.

What is technical debt?

Technical or code debt is the result of using shortcuts when you are doing software development. Software developers sometimes use shortcuts for quickly achieving results. Developers must pay back this debt by reworking their code in the future.

This generally occurs when your developers are using sub-optimal design or coding solutions as they have to rush production. The developer team will return to this product in the future to revise the code. This debt is similar to other debts. It will help you in solving your problem in the short run. However, you need to pay back with interest later. Subpar solutions and quick fixes can speed up your SDLC cycle. However, it will be expensive to address these issues in the future.

This term was coined by Ward Cunnigham. He described the huge impact of tech issues by using this term.

Types of Technical Debt

Technical debt will always have an impact on your business. However, some Technical debts are very risky for your business. Some technical debt can be deliberate as they won’t cause much harm.

Deliberate technical debt is also known as active debt. Active technical debt occurs when a business is delaying the resolution of some issue for achieving some goal. This might be because they want to ship a very important product to their users.

Passive debt happens by accident. It can be due to coding errors or by selecting the wrong platform. Deliberate technical debt is taken when the developers already know about the shortcomings but don’t have an immediate plan that they can use for fixing the issue. However, inadvertent debt is taken when developers implement some solution without actually realizing that they are making a mistake.

Technical debt is not always bad for a company. Development teams need to make occasional tradeoffs between quality, cost, and speed. This thing only becomes an issue for your company when you don’t know about it or you are ignoring it.

A smart technical debt will help you in delivering your MVP solutions quickly. You can confirm POC or proof-of-concept by smartly managing your technical debt. It will help you in determining market or product fit. You can get quick feedback if you have a sound technical debt. It will help you in meeting your customer needs.

The impact of technical debt will depend on how your team is dealing with what they have. Technical debt can be very valuable for your business if you are making a conscious decision. You should know why you are taking the debt. Your business should have all the knowledge and resources to pay the debt in the future.

Most companies can’t avoid tech debt. It is important for modern businesses. Software development is becoming more complex with time.

Causes of Technical Debt

There can be various reasons behind taking technical debt. Some of the main causes are:

  1. Business causes: Sometimes your business needs will force you to use some sub-optimal development practices. The pressure to release products faster is generally the main reason behind this. Sometimes companies want to build a product for less money. Everything has a price. The company needs to take technical debt for achieving speed and low cost.
  2. People-based causes: Shifting resources, distributed teams, bad communication, or lack of experience can also lead to technical debt. If your developers don’t know about the best practices, then they will make mistakes. This will ultimately lead to technical debt for your business.
  3. Development causes: These causes happen when your developers are introduced to poor documentation or insufficient resources in the coding process. Lack of testing can also lead to technical debt.
  4. Context switches: There is no perfect development plan that companies can follow. Sometimes the initial design that makes sense stops making sense after some time. Tech stacks can become quickly outdated and obsolete. Teams can take shortcuts for ensuring that their systems are up-to-date. These shortcuts will increase your technical debt.

How to reduce IT or technical debt?

There is no one method that you can use for reducing technical debt. Every technical debt will be unique in nature. Startups use some tactics for fixing their technical debt. However, these tactics won’t work for medium-sized businesses. Companies need to focus on two directions for reducing their debt:

  • Payback existing technical debt regularly.
  • Make sure that you are not creating a lot of new tech debt.

There are some simple strategies and practices that you can use for reducing your technical debt. Technical debt can be unique in nature but there are some simple practices that you can use for reducing any type of debt.

  1. Don’t hire low quality or new developers

Cheap and low-quality developers can destroy your entire codebase. They will create technical debt even when they are resolving existing bugs in your system. The lost revenue from delivering a bad product will be very big for your company. You could easily avoid this by hiring an experienced team of developers.

Make sure that you are focusing on quality over quantity when you are hiring developers. One good developer is better than 10 average developers. You should look for value over price.

Smaller and better teams can help you in generating much more revenue when compared to less skilled and bigger teams. Once you have hired some reliable engineers you can start hiring junior-level developers and give them training. The senior developers will ensure that the junior developers are only pushing good code in your codebase. This will also help you in maintaining both cost and quality.

  1. Write good code

You should ensure that your developer team is writing quality code for your business. They should keep the code complexity in mind when they are writing code. Class coupling is another very important concept for OOPs development. The lines of code should be minimal. No one wants to read long code. The depth of inheritance is another thing that you should check.

Make sure that you are writing code that is maintainable. These metrics will help you in creating low-debt software products. You will take very less technical debt for creating your entire product. This entire debt can be easily paid off by regularly fixing bugs. Make sure that you are rewarding your employees who are writing high-quality code.

You should also create a coding style guide for your developers. This can be done by your senior developers. Documenting good coding practices will help your junior developers. This will ensure that your team will know how to write better syntax.

  1. Use automated testing

Manual testing won’t help you in controlling your tech debt. Most companies do the mistake of always using manual testing. This is not going to help you in long run. Your team should set up automated testing. They should focus on using automated testing only. You need to spend time and effort in maintaining and establishing automated testing. However, it will ensure that you are properly testing your code.

  1. Keep a record of your changes

Your tech team should have access to all the changes in their code repository. This will ensure that they can easily trace the source of a problem. It will help you in documenting your technical debt also. This record is very helpful for highly complex projects and distributed systems.

  1. Create a technical debt team

Your stakeholder and developers can’t take decisions on all your technical debt. Decisions should come from your qualified team members. They should understand your project. Also, they should have experience with software development tradeoffs.

You can create a team for your business that will help you in making your technical debt-related decisions. This team should have complete knowledge of your application and product. They should have experience with making tradeoffs in a product between speed and quality.

Your team should be transparent. They should tell why they are taking some technical debt. You should communicate with your upper management regarding the technical debt that you are taking. Make sure that your developers are sticking with your plan. They should also talk about the tech deficit. This team should help you in creating an optimal remediation approach for your business.

You can’t take every type of technical debt of your business. Some technical debt won’t help your business. Thus, your dedicated team should help you in evaluating the technical debt that you want to take.

  1. Code refactoring

Your developer team should regularly do code refactoring. This will help you in ensuring continuous payoff of the debt that you have taken. Refactoring is used by developers for restructuring messy code that you have written during the development. The main aim of developers will be to make code more reliable, maintainable, and understandable.

Re-writing code will help you in removing redundancies from your code. This will help you in improving the performance of your software. Both of these things will help you in paying your technical debt. You should improve your code review procedure. Developers can also code linting techniques for improving their code. These are automated checks will help you in improving your source code.

  1. Deal with your technical debt

Quality code and good documentation are very important for your business. However, you should also ensure that your team has the resources and time for dealing with your technical debt. Solving issues and debugging software is a very time-consuming process. Sometimes one small bug can take days to solve. Your developers can’t solve your technical debt-related problems until they have free time. According to expert developers, you should have 20% of your sprint cycle reserved for fixing bugs and refactoring code. This will help you in dealing with the technical debt that you are taking.

  1. Update your definition of done

You should have a formula that developers can use for adding new features to your product. Make sure that this formula has a standard for managing technical debt. Your developer team shouldn’t consider any software as done until it is meeting all the requirements. These requirements should be created by your senior developers. They should focus on ensuring that sub-par products are not getting approved. Your developers should know that they are taking some technical debt. This will ensure that they can come back in the future and fix the issues that are created.

Conclusion

Your developer team should understand that they have to repay their technical debts in the future. Some technical debt is important for your business. You need to take strategic shortcuts for quickly developing your product. There are trade-offs that you need to take when you are building your product. This will help you in gaining a competitive edge. Quick proofs-of-concept and development can help you in gaining more customers. This is very important in the modern world. Thus, you can use technical debt wisely for improving your business.

Sound technical debt can help you in increasing your development team efficiency. Good MSPs can also help you in managing your technical debt. Experienced MSPs like Bleuwire can help your IT team in finding the best tech stack for your business. They will also help you in freeing up your IT team. Bleuwire will take care of your network and IT security. Your IT team doesn’t need to worry about manually managing your network. Thus, they will have more time to work on software development. If you need more information regarding IT services, then you can contact Bleuwire.

Contact us today to learn about Bleuwire™  services and solutions in how we can help your business.