We've explored the intricacies of what technical debt is and where it originates in our previous articles. Now, let's delve into the most actionable part of this series: how to manage and benefit from technical debt. Yes, you read that right—technical debt, often viewed as a liability, can be leveraged as an asset when managed effectively.
Firstly, there are some basic strategies that should be kept in mind when managing technical debt.
Regular code reviews can catch issues early, reducing the accumulation of technical debt over time. This practice ensures that the code adheres to quality standards and best practices.
Allocate time for refactoring, which is the process of improving existing code without changing its external behaviour. This helps in paying down technical debt incrementally.
Implement automated testing to catch regressions and errors quickly. This is particularly useful for avoiding accidental technical debt.
Maintain comprehensive documentation to ensure that the team understands the architecture, which can reduce accidental technical debt and make it easier to tackle unavoidable debt.
The Urgent vs. Non-Urgent Distinction
Not all technical debt is created equal. Some debts are like ticking time bombs that need immediate attention, while others can wait. Prioritise debt based on its impact on the system and the business. Urgent debts usually involve security risks, major performance issues, or critical bugs, while non-urgent debts might be related to code cleanliness or minor optimizations.
Involving Non-Technical Team Members
Technical debt isn't just a concern for developers; it's a business issue. Non-technical team members, such as project managers and business analysts, need to understand the concept to incorporate its management into their plans. Awareness across the board ensures that technical debt is factored into timelines, budgets, and strategic decisions.
Benefiting from Technical Debt
The idea of benefiting from technical debt may seem counterintuitive, but it's akin to using financial debt to grow a company. Here's how:
Sometimes, taking on deliberate technical debt allows you to release features faster than competitors, giving you a crucial first-mover advantage.
Fast A/B and Growth Hacking Tests
Technical debt can enable quick iterations for A/B testing or growth hacking. You can quickly implement changes to test hypotheses, and if they work, you can go back to refine and optimise.
Think of technical debt as a strategic investment. Just like financial leverage can amplify returns, technical debt can be used to expedite growth or achieve specific business objectives, provided it is managed and "repaid" effectively.
By taking calculated risks in the form of technical debt, you can allocate more resources to innovation and R&D, potentially leading to groundbreaking features or products.
Managing technical debt effectively is not just about minimising it but also about understanding how to leverage it for strategic advantages.
At Kode Technologies, we believe that with the right approach, technical debt can be transformed from a looming liability into a powerful asset.
By adopting a holistic approach that involves both technical and non-technical team members and by distinguishing between urgent and non-urgent debt, you can not only mitigate the risks but also uncover hidden opportunities.