How to reduce your technical debt?
Technical debt is like any other debt – the longer you ignore it, the bigger problem it eventually becomes. Even though it’s hardly visible to anyone outside of the development team, results can be destructive for the whole business. Oddly, the business itself is usually responsible for the debt by pressuring the development team for an unreasonable deadline, making poor project goals or design decisions, hiring unqualified developers or product owners, etc.
The most common symptom of technical debt is an increasingly slow velocity of producing functionality. When adding new functionality becomes too difficult, bug fixes introduce a big amount of new bugs or when you read code and don’t fully understand what it does – you have a technical debt.
The real question is how this debt can be reduced?
First, we start with acknowledgment. Identifying signs of debt in your project accept that it exists. 99% of projects have technical debt, why is yours different?
Choose the best strategy for your project. There are 3 different strategies:
Do nothing. It’s an option if you are trying to reach some certain business goals quickly. However, there will be consequences to this approach that must be considered in advance.
Replace the entire system. Some legacy systems might be too complex and require refactoring the whole thing at once. It’s a costly procedure, but sometimes that’s the only viable option.
Refactoring in stages. It includes reducing technical debt by allocating some resources from time to time. Agile software development technique might help you with this. It allows to include the specific tasks in the product backlog and monitor the progress easily.
Make a continuous effort to repay your technical debt. Add related tasks to the team’s agenda repeatedly as technical debt is best managed when it is supervised regularly.
Technical debt isn’t always harmful. Yes, it does have some significant long term costs. When attended with caution, it can bring a significant business value. However, there will be a time when this debt has to be repaid and it can be quite costly for any organization.
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