Technical debt, often known as tech debt or code debt, is the outcome of initiatives taken by development teams to speed the delivery of a piece of functionality or a project that subsequently needs to be refactored. In other words, it is the effect of putting speed above perfection in coding. Technical debt is often used to push an MVP out the door and beat rivals to market. People may not adopt the most perfect solution now, but they begin generating revenue sooner and can carve out time in the future to address and fix those flaws.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
1. What Are Some Good Examples Of Technical Debt?
- Technical debt in the code itself – A product developer may sometimes produce modular code, code whose modules aren’t coherent, code whose modules are named strangely and not in accordance with what they are meant to perform. Nonetheless, the developer may produce ugly code, lengthy procedures, and a plethora of temporary variables.
- Technical debt in documentation – Inadequate or out-of-date documentation is one of the most major drivers of technical debt. Technical debt in documentation is often caused by developers working too quickly and using shortcuts. Developers should ideally record why they made their decisions and what they meant when they did them, or why they divided their entities into modules, and so on. It’s also a good idea for developers to keep their documentation up to date as they modify and add to their code.
- Changing system design without changing the organization structure – Engineering teams are confined to building systems that mimic their organization’s communication structure. Modifying the system architecture without concurrently changing the organizational structure results in technological debt.
- Too few or too many automated tests – A common issue is insufficient to test coverage. Complex code is difficult to update or rework, and errors are more difficult to find and resolve without automated test coverage above the integration level. As a result, the code becomes resistant to modification, resulting in technical debt. Having too many brittle tests that fail with every change and require more maintenance than the application code itself, on the other hand, is a kind of technical debt.
- Outgrowing database models – Growth leads to greater entropy in the codebase, which leads to more technical debt. It’s terrifying since the rest of the system often depends on the model’s structure. Changing the basis of the database model has repercussions across the system, and addressing this is seldom as simple as restructuring models.
2. What Are Some Good Ways To Avoid Technical Debt?
- Create proper documentation – Create a procedure document before beginning a project or implementing any changes. It should go through the problems that were discovered, the changes that were planned, and the outcomes of the testing and implementation. Remember to keep it up to date and maintained on a regular basis.
- Take advantage of Agile practices – The Agile technique is motivated by a collective commitment to achieving a common objective via cooperation. Furthermore, the Agile methodology facilitates teams’ ability to accept necessary changes along the route.
- Trust your developers – It is critical to have faith in your development staff. They have the knowledge and expertise to build the system you want. The only thing you can do is establish a helpful and open atmosphere in which they can satisfy the project’s requirements.
- Establish a good testing procedure – It is critical to have sufficient checks and balances in place at all stages of the project. There must be a set of criteria for determining milestones and fixes. And never, ever skip or short-circuit testing the software or system before deployment.
- Set an annual system maintenance plan – When you have an annual subscription, it is simpler to remain on top of updates and fixes as they arise. In order to design a workaround, enlist the assistance of your developers. In addition, you should plan ahead of time for an annual budget. This manner, if an upgrade notice arrives, you can immediately respond to it.
- Create an open communication system– If you see anything incorrect with your system, notify your developers immediately away. This enables them to fix any issue before it escalates into a larger one. Most significantly, you should establish a two-way open communication mechanism. Problems may be readily resolved if your developers can simply reach out to you for solutions and recommendations. Communication is essential for satisfying project expectations, whether during the development stage or system maintenance.
3. What Are Some Good Ways Of Keeping Track Of Technical Debt?
Metrics to keep track of the technical debt –
- New Vs Closed Bug
- Code Quality
- Cycle time
- Code Churn
- Code Coverage
- Code Ownership
- Technical Debt ratio
4. Why Technical Debt Is Important?
Technical debt is crucial for software developers to consider since difficult-to-work-with code reduces developer productivity and leads to less reliable code. All too frequently, the phrase “technical debt” is applied to a broad variety of situations, becoming unmanageable as a result. Technical debt is often invisible to a system user. It is visible to developers and anyone who must deal with source code in some manner. Technical debt, on the other hand, might lead to defects and other user-facing/impacting difficulties.
5. What Are Some Causes Of Technical Debt?
- Business – Frequently, business requirements trump software development best practices. Teams are under pressure to produce things more quickly or at a lower cost. Occasionally, requirements change mid-course. Cost-cutting measures must be implemented.
- Change in context – It is fairly uncommon for needs that made sense for the original system to no longer make sense. You may need to upgrade your technological stack/tools, or the technology you’re using may have become obsolete.
- Development process – Technical debt may also exist throughout the development phase if the original idea is not well documented. People get perplexed as to what should have been done and why. When inadequate resources and a lack of test automation are included in the equation, technical debt emerges.
- Team – The most complicated source of technical debt is the team/people. It’s not about criticizing individuals or pointing fingers, but about figuring out how to properly manage human resources. If there is a scarcity of skilled engineers, insufficient communication across remote teams, or resources that are shifted from project to project, you will undoubtedly incur tech debt.
6. Are There Different Types of Technical Debt?
- Architecture Debt
- Build Debt
- Code Debt
- Defect Debt
- Design Debt
- Documentation Debt
- Infrastructure Debt
- People Debt
- Process Debt
- Requirement Debt
- Service Debt
- Test Automation Debt
- Test Debt
7. How Do You Reduce Technical Debt?
- Acknowledge Technical Debt – It is common for businesses to accumulate technical debt without understanding it or reaping the benefits of it. However, there comes a moment when technical debt ceases to be a benefit and becomes an unpleasant issue that generates a slew of problems. The sooner you recognise it, the simpler it will be to pay off your technical debt.
- Recognize the stage of technology adoption and determine the best strategy for tech debt – You may need to access your technology adoption stage depending on the level of technical debt. It will almost certainly dictate the strategy to repaying technical debt.
- Classify and document tech debt – The next step is to determine the sort of debt you have and correctly record it. You must specify the sort of problem, the strategy for resolving it, the accountable party, and the penalties of not paying this obligation. Make a note of when and how your team is hampered by technical debt. It will assist you in determining the business effect and converting an abstract notion into quantifiable actions.
- Organize the backlog and keep track of technical debt – Make an effort to repay your technical debt on a regular basis. Technical leaders must regularly collaborate with stakeholders to include technical debt assessment into the backlog and to plan maintenance sprints as needed. Every sprint cycle, Scrum teams should consider investing 15-20% of their efforts on refactoring code and addressing problems. Make careful to add related jobs in your backlog to avoid their sliding through the gaps and getting forgotten.
- Educate non-technical stakeholders – One of the most important components of controlling technical debt is ensuring that decision-makers understand the need of lowering technical debt. The more you explain why technical debt developed and why it is critical to pay it off, the simpler it will be to persuade them to agree with you.