Community Blog What Is Technical Debt? What Should We Do about It?

What Is Technical Debt? What Should We Do about It?

This short article defines technical debt and the issues it can cause companies.

Technical debt can refer to dozens of different issues or problems companies and organizations can face with their technology and processes. In its simplest terms, technical debt is when organizations take a shortcut to get something working quickly, but it comes at the cost of increased complexity and future work. Organizations can rack up this debt by adding quick fixes and patchwork solutions to their existing software.

Technical debt can have significant consequences for companies, particularly if it’s left unmanaged and without proper attention. Technical debt can slow down development and innovation, increase costs, and drag down an organization’s overall performance.

Organizations need to be proactive to prevent technical debt from building up and ensure they’re taking a conscientious approach to their technology and process development. Having a proactive approach to technical debt means looking at the bigger picture and taking the time required to implement the right solution rather than a short-term hack that might increase complexity and create a bigger problem down the line.

First, organizations should define what technical debt is, what its consequences can be, and create best practices to manage it. They should also document the current state of their tech stack and set rules for the team about what constitutes a hack and when a proper solution is needed. It’s also a good idea to document use cases and create clear specs for developers to follow when creating or updating programs.

Organizations should also take time to review their code and update any out-of-date libraries or components. This allows them to avoid using an older version of the software that may have known security flaws while taking advantage of any bug fixes or new features from the updated version.

When it comes to creating and updating programs, organizations should ensure their code is well-structured and modular, making it easier to debug, maintain, and upgrade in the future. This includes writing clean, self-documenting code, so any developer can easily come in and understand the codebase and any changes that need to be made.

When tackling existing technical debt, organizations should review the magnitude of the debt, measure it, and plan how to tackle it. It’s also important to prioritize the debt and focus on eliminating the most critical issues and tasks first.

Organizations should also investigate better tools (such as automated test suites) that can help reduce the amount of technical debt. Automated tests can look for ways to improve code quality and alert teams of any problems that need to be addressed.

When it comes to technical debt, organizations should be proactive in reducing and preventing it. Understanding what technical debt is and the consequences it can have can be the first step in taking time to develop a well-thought-out and proactive plan for reducing debt and ensuring that future development doesn’t succumb to the same pitfalls. Putting time into investigating better tools and techniques can help organizations save time and money in the long run and make the most of their tech stacks.

Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are for reference only and don't necessarily represent the official views of Alibaba Cloud.

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Nick Fan

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