Just like financial debt, technical debt is a part of life whether you are a software developer or a software development company. A tech or technical debt can lead to your downfall if not handled on time. In the write-up below, let’s explore what causes technical debt and how to identify, measure and manage technical debt in software development.
What is Technical Debt in Software Development?
Let’s start the post by knowing the meaning of ‘Tech Debt.’ In layman’s terminology, tech debt or technical debt is when a software project gets delayed in development, and the developer prioritizes early delivery over code quality at that time, the product will experience technical debt in software development.
When there is an urgent delivery, software developers ignore the code quality, technical considerations, and design perfection just to meet the deadlines. As a result, the application quality degrades, and code issues become so high that they become hard to handle over time.
It’s not very much different from the financial debt we build by ignoring the monthly bills.
Each month, we ignore a small bill amount, and it keeps on adding up. However, you can’t ignore it forever, and when the repayment time comes, you have to bear heavy interest on the principal amount.
Technical debt or tech debt in software development works in the same manner. If not addressed on time, it can become so huge that it will eat away 40% of your total development cost.
For a better understanding, have a look at this real-life example of tech debt.
Let’s consider that the developed user story is shared with the agile testing team, and the team is likely to take any of the below-mentioned actions.
- The testing team will report evident bugs to you
- The testing team will ignore the bug and will approve the feature
In both these situations, tech debt can occur.
For example, in the first option, the development team can ignore a bug even if the testing team notices it and move ahead. In this situation, the bug will be a part of the final feature, and its fixture in the future will become highly hectic. It becomes a tech debt for developers.
In the second situation, when the testing team overlooks a bug and moves the bug to a new stage, it becomes fully integrated into the feature. And, when a change or update is required in the future, fixation becomes tough. Hence, it’s a technical debt. Any incident of ignored design or development error becomes tech debt over time.
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The Art and Science of Managing Tech Debt
Tech debt is a serious issue to address, and a delay of seconds can even cause huge issues for software developers. Hence, every software developer must know the right practices to manage tech debt. Here are our expert insights.
Develop a Culture Where Technical Debt Won’t Survive For Long
The basic step towards controlling technical debt is a supportive development environment. The organizations must have open conversations where development and testing teams can discuss anything openly. This way, any bug will surface early.
Secondly, the team should be motivated enough to address the daily standups seriously. It should understand the importance of daily disposal of bugs and errors so they don’t pile up.
There should be realistic goals set for each development team. For instance, the testing team shouldn’t have a deadline of 2 days to scan the entire codebase of an application. Setting up such unrealistic expectations is the root cause of tech debt, forcing the team to prioritize meeting dealings over anything else.
So, have open conversations, encourage everyone involved in development to have a proactive approach, and keep only viable expectations.
Stop Taking Issues Forward
Make sure that the errors and bugs spotted in a week are resolved within the same week. Ditch the practice of moving ahead without fixing past messes. It’s recommended to have a schedule handy for both bug detection and disposal.
If the project is small, bug identification should happen at the beginning of the week, and fixation should be done by the end of the week. You can book one week to manage the pending tasks if the project is huge. This can be planned according to the need of the hour. The idea here is not to carry forward the burden and shed it off by the end of the day.
Make Code Review a Part of the Process
Don’t keep code reviews at the end of the development process. It should be integrated into software development in a manner that happens in the middle and at the end of each development cycle. Timely and regular code reviews help identify potential issues before they become too hard to handle. Along with code review, code refactoring should be there to improve the readability, maintainability, and performance of the codes.
Balancing is the Key
We understand that a lot of development work is now automated, and nothing is wrong with it. Automation is the solution to many issues. But a wise developer will never leave the entire job on AI.
AI-driven development is likely to develop more tech debt over time. So, the prudent move to make here is to combine human expertise with AI. There has to be a balance. The errors reported by AI should be confirmed or cross-checked by humans.
Only humans have the intelligence and expertise to understand which bug holds the highest risk in different situations. So, if you want to control the technical debt in software development at its early stage, make sure humans and AI are working like hands in gloves.
Take the Help of CI/CD
Perhaps the easiest way to reduce technical debt is to use CI/CD or Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment practice. It involves certain workflows that focus on quality codes, which is required for reduced tech debt.
For instance, CI/CD uses automated testing once a code changes. This happens because CI/CD is committed to version control. As every code change is tested, the possibility of building up the technical debt is less.
The great thing is that code quality check is integrated into the development process, and it analyzes multiple aspects like code complexity, coding standards, and many more. Then, we have rapid iterations of code deployment. With this, developers can easily make small improvements with every iteration rather than building a huge pile.
Lastly, CI/CD tools can perform static code analysis that promotes early detection of potential vulnerabilities, security issues, and coding errors.
Microservices are Great
If you haven’t started using microservices yet, then go ahead and go for it now. Microservices offer losing coupling that keeps different modules of an application or tool completely separated from each other. So, errors found in one feature don’t travel to another and remain contained.
One thing developer should never do is avoid technical debt in software development. If continued for very long, this will lead to the epic downfall of a project. The cost of tech debt is also too high to handle for any developer and organization. Hence, the best way is to remain proactive and not carry forward. Being the most reliable software development company in New Jersey, we make sure to practice like periodic code reviews, code refactoring, adopting CI/CD and microservices, and balancing human and AI interventions. Choose a reliable
Project Outsourcing Company like us to ensure the highest level of code quality and cost-effectiveness.