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In simplified terms, technical debt is highly complicated code that is difficult and time consuming for software developers to work in. The complexity also makes it more likely for a developer to make a mistake. Just like with financial debt, a company's technical debt accrues interest payments– longer time-to-market for features, embarrassing and expensive bugs, etc..
According to a survey by McKinsey, CIOs estimate that tech debt accounts for 20-40 percent of their entire technical estate. Another study estimated that technical debt consumes 41% of large companies' IT budgets. Astonishingly, a whopping 65 percent of companies have no process to reduce their technical debt. So let's take a look at both what should be considered by a company's leadership when addressing technical debt and what KPIs developers should use to track their own progress.
Technical debt is an issue that affects the entire organization through its impairment of the software value creation process. As such, it's an issue that requires the attention of more than just the developer team. Here are some key principles to keep in mind while forming your strategy to reduce technical debt.
The traditional waterfall method of software development allowed for defects to occasionally slip through, which, because the testing was done at the end, would mean an increase in technical debt as developers would have redo parts of the code.
However, the iterative nature of agile methodology with it emphasis on automatic testing are much more conducive to reducing your technical debt load. By testing at the end of every sprint, you can ensure that your technical debt, bugs, and defects remain under control.
As mentioned above, metrics are a vital tool in both measuring and fighting your technical debt. Here are a few KPIs to consider that the Seerene platform can provide you:
Technical debt, like financial debt, is a nearly unavoidable aspect of doing business in the modern, digitalized economy. But similarly to financial debt, it has costs and should be managed at both a company leadership and developer level. The key for this is for management to align with the IT department on a coherent, sustainable strategy and for the developers to then implement the strategy with the help of real-time KPIs.