Ideally, all projects are supposed to be finished on time and very much within your estimated budget. However, in reality, there could be many issues and hurdles in the development process and the project would encounter technical debt which seems to be pretty common. Therefore, it is a must to understand the concept of technical debt thoroughly and learn the ways to assess it accurately and manage it effectively.
What Do You Understand by Technical Debt?
Technical debt is supposed to be the additional or excess work required for completing the software development. Technical debt does not impact only those projects that are in the development stage. It is often prevalent in projects that are already in the production process for quite some time.
This refers to anything, such as a certain module that has been written basically on legacy technology that prevents the project from incorporating any new features or functionality or impact overall software stability. In such a case, the technical debt could be calculated as basically the money or time required for refactoring the code of the module or porting the module to new technology. However, it is actually quite complicated even though it may sound so simple because the software system generally includes multiple downsides that could be very much included within the project’s technical debt.
If you do not effectively address technical debts at the earliest possible, these may culminate in more debts with time that would ultimately lead to poor software performance, issues in introducing changes or modifications in the software, growing risk of software breakage after each update. It is, therefore, critical to tackle technical debt when it is at an initial stage of project development. It should be nipped in the bud. You may browse the Internet to identify effective debt programs to tackle overall debts.
What Are the Causes of Technical Debt?
Technical debt actually starts with good intentions, however, it ends in exasperating system failures and it is almost unavoidable and needs to be tackled at the earliest possible. Technical debt is actually inevitable since the current generation agile developers are focusing on swift and really speedy delivery of software to cater to a market requirement. In this context, you must note that developers who over-code or over-architect software end up delaying the launch and waste lots of money. If technical debt is left unaddressed, it could prove to be an enterprise’s silent killer as it would be bogging down systems, crashing software, and causing several months delay in product launches. CAST Software revealed that the per-line average cost of a technical debt is $3.61 and specifically for Java code, it would be an astounding $5.42.
As per https://www.sciencedirect.com, the cost of effectively managing technical debt in big software companies is actually estimated to be around on an average 25 percent of the entire development time.
Causes of Technical Debt
To address technical debt effectively, it is mandatory to understand the underlying factors that caused them. There are four main reasons that culminate in technical debt. Let us explore them.
Bad & Unconventional Development Practices
It is essential for the development team to follow a set of conventions and practices in order to make sure that there is no significant or even slight implementation or design difference from one feature to another. A lack of good conventions and practices pertaining to development could compel developers to actually implement their design and go on rebuilding the same logic again and again. They would go about formatting their code just in the manner they desire and not as per the standard or the commonly accepted conventions and practices in a particular software project.
Conception: Not up to the Mark
Speed is supposed to be the key to success in the development stage. While developing a software application, the team’s speed at which it delivers the product is of prime importance and is known to make all the difference. That is primarily because a software application is chiefly developed for addressing particular issues effectively and in a timely fashion. It is important to address the issue promptly while the requirement is still there.
When software delivery is done speedily it may culminate in poorly designed software. The precise software product may not have been well thought out. Moreover, development is mainly concentrating on developing new features or functionalities.
In this context, it should be noted that sometimes, there could be an agreement or understanding between the development team and the product owners to introduce the first features swiftly and then allocate time for rectification later on for cutting down the time to market.
When you underestimate during the process of software development estimation, it may lead to technical debt. The focus of a development team would precisely be on time estimates. By underestimating the time, it is actually accruing loads of bad practices that would need to be paid.
With the technological evolution, software standards are going up day by day. With technological progress, a new technical debt could appear.
Now that you are aware of the causes leading to technical debt, let us explore some effective ways of eliminating or minimizing technical debt.
Ways of Eliminating Technical Debt
The most effective way of tackling technical debt is by being agile so that you are prompt enough to get rid of a debt when it arises. The faster you address the technical debt, the less interest would be accruing over time. For addressing technical debt, here are some ways to be followed by the software team.
- The Fastest to solve: Fixing technical debts that involve very little time to be fixed could be a wonderful way of gradually eliminating technical debt. For instance, code formatting could be tackled within a very little time.
- As Per Priority: It is crucial to address technical debt issues as per priority. Those issues that could be triggering more serious problems must be prioritized and tackled at once for avoiding unnecessary and undesirable accumulation.
- Refactoring: You need to review the software architecture. Moreover, re-factor codes that could often prove to be useful as we do not wish to handle codes lacking in modularity or duplicate code.
It is best to consider addressing all critical issues, as soon as, they are identified.
Running into technical debt is part and parcel of the software development process; it is an occupational hazard. How you deal with it, however, does define where your project goes in the future. You must ensure that technical debt does not accumulate over time. It is fine to have a certain amount of technical debt in your code base as per corporate policy, but this level must be capped and maintained so that your code quality does not suffer.