What is Tech Debt?
Tech Debt, aka “Technical debt” is a trade-off between short-term benefits of rapid delivery and long-term value. One of the main reasons businesses experience tech debt is that they choose speed over quality. While getting into a market quicker than other companies or getting a software out to consumers quicker may seem like a positive at first, that is not always the case. This can potentially lead to negatives when all is said and done. There are common misconceptions on what causes tech debt.
What causes Tech Debt?
Finding the causes of tech debt are just as important as knowing how to deal with it. There are multiple factors that directly lead to companies experiencing tech debt, and some of these factors can certainly be avoided. Here are some of the top causes of tech debt:
1. Time Pressures
Companies or development teams within a company often release software, hardware, or services that may not be “complete.” This occurs due to companies putting in place accelerated timelines or getting into a market quicker. What this comes down to again is a company choosing speed over quality when it comes to their products or services.
2. Outdated Hardware
While intangible factors can lead to this issue, tangible factors, such as outdated computers, can also lead to it. In a way, interest also builds up with tech debt. Putting off upgrades and replacements for hardware, essentially compounds interest, leading to paying more in the long run. Using old technology may seem like a good way to save money, but in reality, it is creating tech debt.
3. Changing Environment
Industries and the consumer market are always changing and evolving. Consumer expectations always changing and new market opportunities arising, frequently create difficulties for IT leaders. Other ongoing challenges that create tech debt are new cyber threats and new market opportunities. These are factors that can be difficult to avoid or can be completely overlooked.
How does Tech Debt negatively impact your business?
Tech debt has several impacts on a business, whether those impacts are apparent right away or not. At first sight, these impacts may seem like a minor annoyance, but often grow and become larger issues if not resolved right away. There are several ways that tech debt can have an impact on your business, some more impactful than others. Below are three ways tech debt impacts your business.
1. Reduced Progression
One impact tech debt has on your business is paying off the “interest” that comes with it over time. The time taken to resolve tech debt is taken from progression, whether that is new projects or other upgrades. We all know that time is money and dedicating time to remediation can reduce progress.
2. Poor Performance
Pushing out products too quickly may seem beneficial at face value but could lead to poor performance down the road. Fixing poor performance from products or bugs within products creates more technical debt, taking manpower and time away from other projects that benefit the business. Technical debt is incurred when products display poor performance, taking time to fix bugs, system crashes, etc.
3. Tarnished Trust due to Tech Debt
Whether a company is using outdated hardware or outdated software, technical debt will create issues. Old hardware or software being used by companies lead to increased security risks for those companies. These security risks can put sensitive data at risk, whether it’s the consumer’s data or the company’s data. Would a business or consumer truly have a sense of trust with a company that may be putting their sensitive data at risk?
How can Tech Debt be a positive?
While technical debt can have negative impacts on a business if it is not addressed, there are positives to addressing it as well. The initial mindset when realizing you have tech debt is more than likely negative. Figuring out how to resolve the technical debt and how to avoid it in the future can ultimately lead to several positives:
1. Quicker Deployment
Pushing out a product or a software quickly may be a benefit for several businesses. What is being put out to the end user may not be perfect and may have bugs, but the point is, it is still in the hands of the user. When a plan is in place to fix the issues and executed properly, then the quicker deployment can most certainly be positive. This allows for you to simplify complex solutions and as a project comes to completion, tech debt becomes a higher priority.
2. Tech Debt seen as an afterthought
Going along with a quicker deployment, tech debt may seem like an issue. While bugs or certain coding issues may need resolved initially, the goal is to keep these issues at bay after the first fix. One way to look at this is crossing a bridge from implementation to operation. The initial step is implementing the fixes to whatever tech debt there is. Once that is completed, the product itself should be moved to something that can be supported. As part of the operation, the product should not need extra effort and time to fix issues.
Nuage Logic can help!
Tech debt certainly can cause issues for your business, but in a way can also be a positive. Depending on what your business’s goals are, the effort to initially minimize tech debt may vary. Are you unsure how to spot tech debt within your company or how to handle it? Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns you may have!