28 July 2020

What is Technical Debt and Why is it Slowing You Down?

  • By ALCiT Team
  • POSTED IN Strategy
  • With 0 COMMENTS
What is Technical Debt and Why is it Slowing You Down?

Computers, SmartPhones, tablets and laptops operate on well developed software built by professionals. There are regular updates on software to fix bugs or errors so systems can run effectively. But sometimes software is poorly developed which results in what IT professionals call technical debt.

In the long run, this debt cost your company lots of time, money and slows down the growth of your company.This information may save your tech team a lot of time and frustration. 


What is Technical Debt?

Technical debt or code debt is a term coined by Ward Cunningham. It’s a metaphor that describes the consequences that arise when code is poorly written and errors show in the technical infrastructure development.


Additionally, extra work must be done to repair the software or to add extra functionality to improve its operation.  


Technical debt is the consequence of having a short term plan for your software development. Over time the errors and insufficiency accumulate which results in high costs when servicing or repairing the software.


These errors and insufficiencies in tech development are called crufts and it makes it more difficult to modify, repair & extend its infrastructure. It’s similar to financial debt because the cruft makes it difficult to change the software which results in more time and money spent on it.


For example, if I was structuring a module that was confusing in my code, I’d have to add a feature. If the model function was clear it would only take me three days to add the extra feature. However, with the cruft, it would take me six days to complete. The extra three days is considered the interest of the debt.


Furthermore, cruft refers to code that decreases as the software progresses. Technical debt will occur when software has been developed to operate comprehensively in the short term. But it doesn’t accommodate the ability to change or add features onto the software to improve it over time.


In conclusion, technical debt is a liability because as your company expands so should your software. Your tech team won’t be able to maintain or make advancements on the software. The problem is that if your technical infrastructure can’t expand with your company growth, it can cost you money.


How Does Technical Debt Happen?

  • Pressure on the developer
  • Complex tech design
  • Poor alignment to standards
  • Lack of software development skills
  • Suboptimal code
  • Inconsistent refactoring
  • Insufficient testing
  • Prioritizing speed over quality
  • Creating accidental codes that are poor quality
  • Deliberately development of poor codes


How to Avoid It

When borrowing money it may seem like an excellent idea at the time because it will solve all your problems. However, you have to pay that money back with interest.


In the same vein, if you rush to get your coding done there will be mistakes in the infrastructure and it will be sent back to be repaired. You’d essentially be repaying the debt by refactoring the software. So how do you avoid tech debt from occurring? The following tips will assist you.


Don’t Take Shortcuts

It’s crucial that you don’t take shortcuts when developing your software. Develop each part of your code systematically to avoid missing important steps.


Build Simpler Designs

You don’t have to overcomplicate your designs to make your software work. Use simpler designs that will be easy to maintain and expand if you need to.


Refactoring Continuously

You must refactor your coding continuously which clarifies and simplifies your design without changing its behaviour. Refactoring improves your design and preserves your software functionality. 


Pay the Principal Off Gradually

Cruft has more impact on high activity areas of your software so you must update it consistently. Lower activity areas of your software don’t need to be prioritized because cruft doesn’t typically occur in these sections. Gradually remove crufts as you find them.


Long-Term Thinking

The software must be able to advance with your business. Your technical infrastructure can only expand if you’re able to add features and extras when it’s required. So ensure you develop a code that can grow over time without hassle.


Final Thoughts

Business owners may have a difficult time understanding what technical debt is because it’s not visible. However, it can have a huge impact on your business if there are liabilities in your technical infrastructure.


Therefore it’s advised that you don’t rush the development of your software. Perfect your software over time so it won’t cost you money to fix it in the future.


Not sure how to move forward? Our team can assist.

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