It’s easy to ignore technical debt, but every company involved in software development has to face it sooner or later.
Better to do it earlier, as maintenance issues tend to grow and often end up seriously complicating or slowing down the processes of adding new features or functionalities.
As the list of the consequences of technical debt is long, you don’t want to face them in the near future.
Organizations that tried to live with it eventually ended up paying it back, as they started experiencing more and more trouble, including a higher total cost of ownership, security issues, reduced software agility, negative customer feedback, and loss of trust from business partners.
Knowing all that, how should you deal with technical debt? Here are 5 tips that will help you address the topic.
How to Deal with Technical Debt?
Identify the areas with the most technical debt. With that information, you can prioritize them based on their impact on the system and the company. Understanding the development priorities opens the way to creating a “repayment plan” with a list of critical areas that you should tackle first. A proper assessment of the situation gives you the chance to move forward while avoiding the accumulation of technical debt.
Refactor the code to address technical debt. This can involve rewriting the code, fixing bugs, removing duplicate code, and optimizing performance. The process of refactoring is all about improvement while leaving the behavior and functionalities untouched. The goal is to leave the code in a better shape than it had been before the change or new functionality was introduced. Refactoring reduces complexities. It gives a chance to remove duplicates and improve the overall structure.
Automate as much of the development process as possible to reduce the risk of introducing new technical debt. People tend to make mistakes, so it’s wise to use solutions that help avoid them. With most development environments having built-in refactoring tools that automate the most common operations, try to trust them. Automation is also vital to freeing the creative teams from minor tasks, letting them focus on implementing product innovations.
Implement a comprehensive testing strategy to catch bugs and prevent regressions. Enhance the tests performed, and don’t hesitate to expand them wherever possible. This can include unit tests, integration tests, and end-to-end tests. Testing keeps technical debt in check because it makes it possible to identify problems earlier, helping the team avoid bugs and deal with them on the go. Right testing procedures make tests relevant, clear, and effective and can prevent big technical debt in the long run.
5. Document and Educate
Document the code and system architecture to make it easier for developers to understand it. Information is key to identifying technical debt. With enough information, the team will recognize the issue faster, which may help reduce the time and cost of fixing it. It’s also good to educate the development team on the importance of addressing technical debt and its impact on the system and the business.
Examples of technical debt prove that it can hurt any organization with consequences that are hard to swallow: from loss of productivity and regular system outages to security breaches, inability to address user expectations, and a drop in sales.
With the rapid pace of technological advancement and the growing role of software in different industries, it’s good to keep technical debt in check. Today, it’s the way to stay competitive.