Technical debt is showing the suggested extra costs generated by choosing an easy option now rather than a superior option that would take longer to achieve while developing software. As with most debts, it can incur interests so the changes needed to be made, will become more difficult, slowing down shipping, or creating problems with developer self-esteem!
Not all tech debt is bad. This is true for companies that are growing at an exceptional rate and must grab hold of potential opportunities. While tech debt may be an individual problem, there are three principal ways that it can be managed.
- Deliberate tech debt.
The process of developing software is a long one. It can take weeks or months before your product is ready and in that time, other developers are probably releasing products to your client market.
In order to keep up with the speed of the market, some developers will take a quick, easy option so that they can produce a product before others. By doing this, you will probably have to explain to your investors that add on features will take longer to be released.
How to tackle deliberate tech debt:
It is highly recommended to track deliberate debt in your backlog when you decide to purposely delay necessary tasks. If you do not do this it is more possible that the debt will go unpaid and convert into accidental debt. It is also important to ensure that owners and investors take responsibility for this type of debt because it is one that has happened due to business decisions.
- Accidental/outdated design tech debt.
It is tricky to maintain a balance between designing your software rapidly and with simple design in order to get it on the market as soon as possible, with the ideas you would like to incorporate to keep up with future expectations.
What appeared to be a good design might end up with problems when you need to add on new functions and this can lead to tech debt.
How to tackle accidental/outdated tech debt:
While designing software you need to take into consideration the refactoring. Typically this is required every year. If you attempt this in the original production stage you might cause the system to be over-engineered from the beginning, leading to overall slow-downs. The owners should work closely with the tech team to set aside time in the production schedule to overcome this type of debt.
- Bit rot tech debt.
This type of debt is one that accumulates over a period of time. Each type of software normal undergoes numerous changes and often by different people. These people may not completely appreciate the original program. With time, this will reduce the system or software to a lower standard.
How to tackle bit rot debt:
Bit rot debt is probably the only one of the tech debts that you really ought to steer well clear of. As the owner, you should make sure your team is fully capable of maintaining design systems and eliminating bad codes as they arise, whether they are the original designers or not. As the maintenance of software falls under their job description, it is the developers who should be held accountable for bit rot tech debt that incurs.
Just like monetary debt, by understanding it you won’t be able to find a magical way to cope with it. It is a topic that should be discussed with all team members and investors, if people aren’t aware of it, they won’t be able to do anything about it! You need to analysis your business and decide which balance works for you to allow for maximum productivity.