A Financier’s Guide to Technical Debt


The term Technical Debt, coined by Ward Cunningham, represents the effort required to fix problems that remain in the code when an application is released. An emerging concept borrowed from the financial sphere, it also represents the cost of fixing structural quality problems in an application that put the business at serious risk. There are a range of causes of technical debt including business pressures, a lack of documentation and software development that isn’t flexible enough to adapt to changing business needs.

Lev Lesokhin, Executive Vice President at CAST, recently penned an article in WallStreet and Technology that uses financial terms to clarify what technical debt is and what it entails. As Lev says, this article is a little tongue in cheek, but it should give financiers a baseline understanding of technical debt.

Technical Debt Estimation in CAST Highlight

High Technical Debt values typically represent lower code quality resulting in higher defects that can become costly to fix. CAST Highlight provides IT organizations with a Technical Debt Distribution graph, which creates a profile of portfolio technical debt estimates across different ranges. IT staff need to closely monitor applications with high technical debt values, as development teams will find these applications to be more and more difficult to maintain overtime or transition to other teams or vendors, which could weigh a heavy burden on the IT budget.


The CAST Highlight Technical Debt index is derived through CAST industry benchmarking values based on the application’ programming language, the amount and type of risk detection and the size of the application.

If your organization isn’t measuring its Technical Debt, think twice. Or you may have to seek technical bankruptcy protection.

Filed in: CAST Highlight
Tagged: Technical Debt
Michael Muller
Michael Muller Product Owner Cloud-Based Software Analytics & Benchmarking at CAST
Michael Muller is a 15-year veteran in the software quality and measurement space. His areas of expertise include code quality, technical debt assessment, software quality remediation strategy, and application portfolio management. Michael manages the Appmarq product and benchmark database and is part of the CAST Research Labs analysis team that generates the industry-renowned CRASH reports.
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