How to Repay your Technical Debt

As we have seen in last article technical debt accrues when we take shortcuts today at tomorrow’s expense. After understanding different types of technical debt now we concentrate on how can we plan to repay the technical debt. Technical debt is like an iceberg, we can see very less from top as we go deeper we realize it is more than what we can see. One should consider below points during technical debt management planning:

  • Not all technical debt should be repaid: Sometime business takes Strategic Technical Debt. Strategic Technical Debt are taken when economic return is more than the cost of Technical Debt. It is not always intelligent decision to pay those type of technical debt immediately.
  • Repay High interest technical debt first: Every technical debt come with some rate of interest and in case of native and unavoidable technical debt we need to categorize technical debt based on rate of interest. We need to pay high interest technical debt first because cost of making any change in those system is very high compare to low interest technical debt system.
  • Repay technical debt incrementally: All technical debt can’t be repaid in one shot. Otherwise it impacts business budget planning. Business need to maintain synergy between technical debt payment and budget plan so business can run smoothly. When technical debt increases business velocity decreases and the technical debt reaches to the tipping point where after certain time it increases exponentially.  So, it is always recommended to avoid that situation repay technical debt incrementally.
  • Apply the Boy Scout rule: Boy Scout rule says Leave the campground cleaner than you found it. Same principle should be applied at the time of addressing technical debt you should leave the code cleaner than you found it. Always clean up code as you go and develop more code. If you don’t you will find yourself in a mess shortly (much more likely than for camping sites).
  • Repay technical debt while performing customer valuable work: Sometime business run with very thin margin in those scenarios it is difficult to plan technical debt payment explicitly. So there is tip to address those scenarios to repay the technical debt is pay technical debt while performing customer valuable work.