Technical debt isn’t always bad if used properly. It may be a powerful method for shipping code faster and more often. However, if you neglect your current debts while consistently borrowing more money, you’ll eventually face problems, maybe serious ones.
Travis James Fell, product manager at Hypori says, “Like financial debt, tech debt is not always bad, but we must be smart about it.”
“Incur tech debt in light of the business benefit, understand other debt already incurred, and have the plan to pay it off,” he said.
Paying off technical debt is simple. It only takes going back and addressing the tradeoffs or compromises you made in a system to accomplish a certain benefit or goal, like meeting a crucial deadline. It’s when you never actually do this that trouble abounds.
Here are four ways to repay your technical debt.
Set ‘Repayment Terms’ For Your Technical Debt
Financial debts generally have a due date for payments, such as the first of each month for a mortgage. But if you don’t set those repayment terms yourself, unchecked technical debt will happily burden a codebase for all time.
“Do a full tech debt audit and create a timeline to pay off all that debt with a follow-up process to make sure your company doesn’t move forward carrying a high debt ratio,” suggests Mike Duensing, CTO, and EVP of engineering at Skuid.
Listen To Your Developers – Closely
From an IT leadership perspective, you should be aware that you might be two or three steps away from the routine maintenance/debt service that generally goes along with technical debt in a codebase.
This is one way that technical debt can spiral out of control: You simply don’t know where it exists. That makes it rather difficult to resolve/repay later. Be sure to inquire and comprehend where the debt is located within your company and its systems.
Treat Technical Debt As Part Of Your Overall Strategy
Yoseph Radding, a software engineer and co-founder of Shuttl.io suggests it is better to do the audit from the beginning. It means incorporating technical debt into your software development pipeline and strategy.
“Repayment requires an understanding of what tech debt is and where it exists in the product, an estimate of the ongoing maintenance costs, engaging the business on the timing of other investment decisions, and including tech debt payoff on a software product roadmap,” Yoseph Radding said.
Find The Repayment Practices That Work Best For You
It is important to find out what repayment practices suit you. Yoseph Radding further said, “One strategy that has worked for me is to have a separate task board that tracks how much time, inhuman hours, spent (maintaining) a particular piece of tech debt.”
“If the human-hours result is too high, then that is a piece that we have to tackle immediately. Having the time in hours shows the business how much money is sunk into the problem and enables you to prioritize the fix appropriately,” Yoseph Radding concluded.