What is Tech Debt?

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photo by People Creations

The increase in demand for technology has significantly affected the quality of that technology, most recently in the past few years. From software to physical devices such as iPhones to apps and more, technological evolution continues. With that, a new term arises—tech debt.

Known as technical or tech debt, this is typically the result of when a company releases technology to the public quickly. The speedy releases mean that the code and structure of the technology likely contain slight issues, bugs, and so on. Essentially, businesses are sacrificing some quality in order to get technology out faster.

It puts those businesses in ‘debt’ that they can ‘get out of’ with updates newer releases. The technology industry is pressured to continuously create up-to-date, modern products to keep up with the public’s desire. A company’s tech debt should also be able to stay within a certain amount that’s manageable for it to pull itself out of. Not doing that could drive that business into the ground.

Among nearly every other industry, the tech industry is the most competitive. Technology is an integrated part of daily life and newer generations of people, particularly Generation Z and Millennials, demand the latest products. Due to this, a higher priority is placed on speed over quality. The balance of the two can easily become out of control, which is why paying attention to tech debt is vital to a company in the tech industry.

Indications of Increasing Tech Debt

  • Slower production times for updates and new releases
  • Higher difficulty hiring or training recent employees
  • Issues with security or products containing more issues
  • Maintenance costs increase
  • Narrow focus (project to project)

How to Improve Tech Debt

  1. Employ refactoring consistently

It helps decrease maintenance issues and costs while improving the functionality and overall experience for users.

  • Keeping detailed documents

Whether it’s the code or documents about the code, companies who keep detailed records will have an easier time dealing with any future issues.

  • Run tests occasionally

Testing for any errors or bugs in code is extremely useful for current or upcoming technology. It also aids in lowering tech debt by helping developers fix those issues.

  • Making sure the development plan works

For each development team within a business, there are development plans that directly affect the company’s tech debt. Higher tech debt generally means the development plan is out of date, the team isn’t doing a good job keeping up with the industry, or possibly a combination of both. The development plan should be continuously revised to suit the company’s current and future goals.


Low tech debt is ideal for every business to have, but isn’t always possible. The high demand in the tech industry may only increase so companies need to ensure that their tech debt doesn’t get out of hand. Even if the debt is high, it’s still possible for businesses to survive. However, monitoring and preventative measures are the best way to set them up for success from now into the future.