Stop turning a blind eye to your tech debt

Easy solutions that will help you take this bull by the horns!

April 29, 2022

By: Sofia

First things first, tech debt… What is it? And is it that bad?

The term technical debt (a.k.a code debt) was introduced in the ’90s by Ward Cunningham. He compared financial debt to the deficit created by using shortcuts in software development that compromise the quality of codes. Although it helps speed up the process and launch products on time, the more you owe, the more it will cost to redevelop and make codes right in the future.

All companies have a certain amount of tech debt if they have been active for a while. Tech debt can even be intentional, but it’s not the case when the situation gets out of control. Whether it is good or bad, depends on how big the tech debt is and how you’re willing to handle it. Just as in finances, a loan can help you achieve things, but it’s important to deal with it efficiently and in a timely manner.

There is an easy way to find out how big your tech debt problem is. Establishing whether your debt is small, medium, or large will help you understand how you can go about it. 

Determine the size of your problem

Acting as if your tech debt doesn’t exist won’t make the problem magically disappear. It is necessary to understand how big it is and start solving it before it eats you alive.

Small debts are linked to quick recoding. It refers to those things developers find along the way and can fix almost immediately, leaving the code better than they found it. All team members deal with this sort of debt and know it is part of their duty to take care of it.

When the company needs to dedicate 10 to 30% of every sprint to maintenance work, we can say they are addressing a medium debt. All team members must track medium debt whenever it appears and discuss it with the PM before he plans the sprint taking it into account. 

Large debt can be recognized when the project isn’t progressing as fast as expected due to constant fixes, solutions seem to bring new bugs, and you aren’t able to rely on the production environment. 

Measuring technical debt in an accurate manner isn’t as easy, but there are helpful methods such as TDR. TDR is the ratio of remediation cost to development cost. Generally, 5% (and below) is considered a normal amount while high scores reflect large debt and poor quality. 

Reversing tech debt is a pain in the neck, but just like any other problem, it is worst not to deal with it. The sooner you do something about it, the sooner your company will get out of that mess and become more productive and profitable.

Get rid of your tech debt problem with these two simple options

When assessing how to go about technical debt, outsourcing or staffing can be your best option.

On one hand, outsourcing works better when you need to delegate tasks entirely, due to lack of time or other reasons. The service provider handles the project from beginning to end. The outsourcing agency becomes responsible for a whole area of the project or the entire project in some cases.

On the other hand, IT remote staffing works as an augmentation of your team. It allows you to hire experienced developers from staffing agencies to fulfill your deficiencies by becoming part of your team. In some cases, you can even hire a complete software development team to meet your requirements.

While external programmers work on old problems, your usual resources can prevent future inconveniences and keep moving forward instead of being stuck in tech debt chores. Besides, when opting to outsource or augment your staff, you can make sure to hire tech debt experts who will provide better solutions than those offered by your own team members.

Lacking expertise is one of the main reasons for generating tech debt in the first place, and it is easily fixed by hiring experts that know exactly how to come to easy solutions for your problems. Sometimes this lack of knowledge can be related to the type of project. It doesn’t mean your current staff isn’t good enough, they’re probably better at other areas. When possible, it is wise to consider hiring outsourced help as soon as you start the project. Detecting this on time will help you save lots of money and avoid quite a few headaches.

Another common reason for tech debt is the lack of staff. It’s impossible that a company is always prepared for all types of projects. Sometimes you need specifically qualified experts and it’s not easy to get them. Sometimes new projects come out of the blue and there’s not enough time to do so either. Outsourcing or staff augmentation can be a great solution in both of these cases.

If you think these are expensive solutions, try calculating how will tech debt affect your finances and you’ll probably end up thinking it’s a great idea. Addressing your tech debt by working with the right programmers can actually save your company a lot of time and money.