Is Technical Debt Any Good?

Did you hear of the term ‘Technical Debt (TD)?’ You can find numerous blogs and articles on the internet if you start Googling. If you read these pieces, it may seem that TD is a terrible thing and organizations should avoid it. However, this is not the case at all circumstances. TD is not always the monster. That is because if such debt were so bad or perilous, then companies would have no TD at all. You should think of TD as code that decelerates over the years. The dearth of test automation, hard to understand code, tangled dependencies, and duplications are a few examples worth mentioning. Take a sheet of paper and a pen and try to draw a TD graph over the years. It is difficult to gauge TD numerically. However, you can think of it in relative terms. How is the relative amount of TD evolving or changing during all these years? Is it going up, going down, or constant? In most cases, the TD graph rises in an organization, which means that it is not that bad after all.

According to an article published on huffingtonpost, if TD is repaid, it will not accumulate over time, thus helping you to create or add more value to your products. This way, you can help your company grow and move forward. Read on to learn more about TD and when does it make sense for your organization.

What Is Needed in Software Development?

When it comes to software development, you will find the continuous need to strike the right balance between quality and speed. You will need to compromise a few qualities to add new features within a logical period. These shortcuts are your future projects, and any unattended tasks denote TD.

When to Consider TD

Understanding when to release a new product feature and considering TD, it is an art in one part and science in the other. Let us take a simple example to elaborate this point. Say for instance, when a person takes a business loan, an essential aspect to consider is the rate of interest. And it is a bad idea to take a loan from an institution charging double the interest or even more. The same rule holds when it comes to TD. First, you must think of your company’s interest that will pay off for the benefit of your organization. TD is a good thing to have in your company if the amount paid is practical and moderate. Here is how you can weigh up the interest on TD:

Is it Part of the Main Product: If that is the case, taking TD may cost you more than you can imagine. You may take a TD when you are building your internal management console or when your organization is developing an arcane feature. However, to ensure that your TD is good, make sure that you have minimum TD when it comes to your core analytics potential and log processing.

Fixing Costs: Many times, implementing the right solution may make you go through a challenging upgrade, invest a lot of money in development resources for refactoring, and break backward compatibility. It is similar when you take a loan and pay higher interest. And to get the best repayment terms, you research and look for companies with positive debt consolidation reviews to combine all your loans into a single account. Similarly, when it comes to TD, the cost of fixing may be very high.

Effect of TD on Future Development: Though TD is good to some extent, what impact it would have on a software development project in the future? You should figure this out while managing TD. How will the same impact relevant tasks and features? In case, it is a marginal feature, ensure that you do not use in the months to come. When TD is good, you can utilize the additional time to move the primary product further and improve on the same.

Impact on Customers: Based on the amount of TD you have in your business setup, how it will affect customer success and satisfaction? If a specific debt means that a customer faces a bug only once a month, what will be its impact on the customers? Whether the effect is good or bad depends on the bug’s severity.

Don’t Fear TD

TD is a concept that requires addressing sometime in your company. However, it does not make sense to address it all the time. It is related to economics in some way when economists like to term ‘Opportunity cost,’ which means that doing A comes at the Cost of B. Therefore, if you focus on the cost and manage your TD accordingly, then you have nothing to worry.

For example, if your research and development (R&D) team take a full day to fix erroneous codes or bugs and payback TD, then you do not spend the day adding new features. On the contrary, when the time is spent on building new features, it is not wasted on fixing bugs and improving the software.

Therefore, when taking TD, think twice, pace a few steps back and look at the bigger picture. The money spent on R&D is not the cash spent on administration, marketing, or on other business purposes. It means that you will need to take decisions depending on your priorities in all the areas. Though TD is not bad all the time, it should be a lower priority for the benefit of your business.

Conclusion

To ensure that you have good TD, be prudent to pay it off on time. TD is good for your organization when you release new, innovative products and features, thus helping your business to grow. Besides, TD will assist the log analysis community. Therefore, your business should avoid paying too much heed on fixing trivial issues. Else, your company may face stagnation. Look at the bigger picture of R&D. Make sure that it is considered throughout your company. There is a proper time when you can reduce TD. Prioritize and then decide when to focus on TD and when not.