Just like financial debt, technical debt is a tool to use. You can easily misuse this tool and it can be a drain financially. With the right approach however, you can leverage “tech debt” to build investments that pay dividends.
This is the same with tech debt. Technical capital can come in a few forms. The primary ones being:
- technical capacity (how much your team can do)
- technical capability (how difficult a task they can complete)
- technical tools (what can your digital infrastructure support)
What is Technical Debt
In software development field, technical debt (also known as design debt or code debt) is identified by the implied cost of additional work or rework in a design. You can think about this as choosing an easy (limited) solution now instead of using a better approach that would take longer.
Sometimes your IT team doesn’t have the technical funding to pay in full for a project to be completed. They may still be able to deliver when you ask them using the the technical capital on hand. But this comes at the cost of taking shortcuts. You should consider shortcuts before you use them; they are not free. Consider any shortcuts by the amount of technical debt that accrues.
This debt demands payments on its own schedule and these payments are forcefully taken. You make payments in the form of business disruptions, draining IT staff’s hours due to constant upkeep, or even lack the features and scalability to grow with your organization.
So that means all tech debt is bad, right? Of course not. Remember how we talked about responsible financial debt? Responsible debt results when the cost of paying interest outweighs the cost of waiting until you can pay in full. See our article on System’s Thinking for more info
Responsible financial debt usually comes in 2 forms:
Like any form of debt, you take on tech debt to increase capability. A young adult taking on a car loan, so they can drive which increase options at where they can work. In the digital realm, this can manifest as your team trying something they have not yet done before. They lacked the capability to deploy this correctly the first time, but the technical debt they accrued allowed them to learn more and build that capability in-house.
You need to remember that debt is a tool. It pays for investments where the ROI is higher than the interest rate. You might consider taking out a loan for a rental property when the incoming cash from rent is higher than the outgoing cash for mortgage. An example of this in terms of tech debt would be purchasing an automation tool. You need to determine that this tool saves enough of your IT staff’s time by reducing their workload. From there, you should invest knowing that you are offsetting the cost by the time it would take for them to manually perform the tasks.
How does your business or organization deal with technical debt? Is it able to manage it or is it the cause of other troubles? The team at e-Mayhem understands and can assist you in managing your technical debt to make your team work smarter, not harder. Feel free to reach out to our team with your inquiry and we can assist you with analyzing your technical debt and your IT solutions.