Technical Debt: What Is It And How Can It Put Your Company At Risk

October 29, 2019

Technical Debt: What Is It And How Can It Put Your Company At Risk

Imagine this, you walk in to your favorite electronics store with one goal in mind: that bright and shiny new 55 inch 4K television to use for the big World Series games. You don’t have the money right now so you charge it to your store credit card. Soon the payment is miles higher than where it started and your TV is now five times its original price. Now you’re struggling to make the excruciatingly high payment, thus taking you way longer than you planned to pay it off. To make matters worse, you are stuck with your old 40-pound tube TV and you still don’t have a new TV for the World Series!

The ideas surrounding technical debt is similar to borrowing money. In the short term it can seem like a good solution. If you pay back the debt quickly, there’s usually nothing to worry about. It’s not until the interest has accumulated for a long period of time that the payments start to become unmanageable.

What Is Technical Debt?

Technical debt is a concept that has gained quite a bit of attention over the last several years. Essentially, it is the idea that when developer teams ship software in a hurried fashion, there are problems left over that must be fixed after the fact. Whether it be inoperable features, poorly written code, or numerous bugs, all of these items will contribute to the technical debt of the application. Other forms of technical debt are old technology that has not kept up to date with what is needed. Running on Windows 7 with an end-of-life coming on January 14th, 2020 is an example of that type of technical debt. It’s an effective way to communicate the need for refactoring and tasks related to improving the overall architecture of the code base or solution.

How Technical Debt Can Put Your Development At Risk

Constantly procrastinating on bugs that need to be fixed is a dangerous way to make software. As the bug count grows and the longer it goes without refactoring, tackling it becomes increasingly daunting, resulting in a vicious spiral of technical debt. Dirty code leads to more developer time, which leads to added costs. Shipping the code quickly provides little or no time for refactoring.

Photo by NORTHFOLK on Unsplash

Analyzing Technical Debt

When analyzing the effects of technical debt on your application, a team must take into account several different factors.

Pinpoint the items in the application that will have the greatest negative effect on the software and fix those first. Will not repaying the debt break the applications? Will it take a large amount of developer hours to fix? What is the impact of not fixing the debt? All of these issues must be examined so that your team can take an efficient approach to address its technical debt issues. A long term plan called a roadmap may be needed to show what areas should be addressed each month or quarter by the team in a logical order.

Using Agile To Reduce Technical Debt

Using the Agile methodology of software development can decrease the chances of being slammed with large amounts of technical debt. With agile, the focus moves away from schedules and towards high-quality, demonstratable software.

Agile bakes quality into the iterative development approach so the team can maintain a consistent level of quality release after release. If a feature isn’t up to snuff, it doesn’t ship. The trick to this is defining or redefining “done.” Daily meetings should take place to discuss issues and problems so you don’t ship code that is unsatisfactory.

We Can Help

Flint Hills Group uses the Agile development process to build your solution in a way that reduces technical debt and development costs. We minimize technical debt on all new projects and we can even help you get out of technical debt from past projects with a roadmap in place! When you choose Flint Hills Group, you choose a dedicated team of experienced US individuals whose focus is delivering a high quality and reliable product.

Not sure if you should hire a software development agency? Check out these 5 benefits to hiring an agency. Our hand-picked, US-based software developers can give your business what it needs to thrive in a rapidly evolving tech world. Browse what Flint Hills Group can provide for your business.

We can provide you with outsourced developers or an entire software team with a project manager. Be sure to read our reviews on Clutch, an independent platform for rating agencies. You can then review our process, and request an estimate for your project.

Chris Gonzalez
Development Enthusiast

Chris is currently a Computer Science student at Western Governors University. He enjoys all aspects of software engineering and web development.

Chris Gonzalez
Chris Gonzalez

Chris Gonzalez
Development Enthusiast

Chris is a currently a Computer Science student at Western Governors University. He enjoys all aspects of software engineering and web development.