Technical Debt: Much More Than Just Code


In this post the CEO of ActiveState discusses how at the organization they have dealt with the discovery that they had high levels of technical debt. But the story told is not specific to this organization; technical debt can be an issue for any company.

It's no surprise that many companies have technical debt. It can affect any company whether it be large or small. It is something that comes along with trying to tackle the time constraint of cleaning up legacy code and building new functionality. Technical debt can be managed, but only once a company has taken the time to figure out what the baseline of technical debt they can maintain. If this isn't done, you can find yourself in a place where it is almost impossible to work on code riddled with technical debt.

Any organization that is trying to get their newest product version out to market needs to keep an eye out for technical debt as it can be an innovation killer. A lot of organizations that look to manage their technical debt can make the mistake of simply reviewing their code. But technical debt is much more than just a code issue, it is something that comes from a company's culture, and therefore if you want to minimize technical debt you have to look at the organization at large.

What you first need to do is identify those areas with the most debt and identify what quick and dirty tricks were used to fulfill time constraints in those areas. By fixing these quick fixes and alleviating areas with heavy debt you will begin to build a strong foundation for your organization's projects. This helps employees, by making it easier to build new functionality, and customers, by giving them better products to use.

Many businesses, particularly start ups, can be so focused on dealing with immediate issues and customers demands that they aren't willing or able to build things "the right way" from the get-go. This results in a tech debt pile-up. In order to get past a cycle of doing just what you need to survive and grow, you have to address these previous short-cuts.

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Filed in: Technical Debt
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