Imagine this scenario: You are close to the deadline when your product must be out to the public, and all your team is working full speed towards the goal. In the process, a lot of less-than-perfect details are accumulated that are, of course, will not evident at first sight.
When the pile of such “tiny details” becomes quite significant, these “little imperfections” can become the little stone that overturns your business cart. So if you want your cart not to be broken and stranded but to be active and rolling on to new heights, you have to make sure you deal with all these details, which are called, in the world of information technology, technical debt.
This article will examine some proven strategies that you can use to identify and address your company’s technical debt. This is written based on the experiences and case studies of companies that have dealt with technical debt and have come out alive and thriving!
Define Your Standards of Quality
You need to have a clear vision of how to identify and deal with any piece of code or functionality that might run awry. Your goal is to bring it up to the standards you have determined acceptable for your company and your clients.
When your company grows and evolves, it is, by all means, a fact that the code your team wrote 2-3 or 5 years ago might not meet the current standards of quality of your company. Maybe you were serving just a few hundred users in the past, while now your clientship is thousands. Typically, pieces of code here and there become obsolete.
A wise move is to check every time a new policy or standard is established. All the old code is reviewed and revised. This might be a cumbersome process, but it becomes an easy job when you have a dedicated tech-debt team.
As with all the tasks and processes within your organization, we advise you to use checklists to ensure everything runs smoothly. Your technical debt removal checklist must include code review, testing, bug identification, and more. It all depends on your quality standards and the type of organization and products you release.
Again you might use different checklists for your past products and code. However, these will help you enormously, first of all, to see your technical debt. And when you see it, it is easier to clean it up. Recognizing a problem is the first step toward resolving it effectively.
Track the “Debt”
So basically, you should create your company definition of “done.” Once you do, you must ensure all your developers and managers comply with this. It sounds pretty simple.
The reality is different, though. In times of a big rush, these standards may not be met. This is something that happens quite often. It would help if you established how everyone within the team deals with this. The first step, of course, is to track it. Putting the dirt under the rug does not erase it. It can start to smell, and eventually, everyone will see it.
There are two ways to deal with it. First, to recognize it openly and frankly, and second to track it and write it down so that everyone knows what is happening and why.
So encourage everyone within the team to be honest about their work and quality standards. If they become aware a part of what they do or have done already needs improvement, there is no shame in speaking up and putting it in writing in your tech debt tracker.
A solid system of tracking technical debt will allow you to address it efficiently. So get this part right!
Allocate Time and Resources for Technical Debt Reduction
Getting all teams to a halt to clean up the technical debt is not a viable solution. It is just as unfortunate as when you behave as all if there is no technical debt. The elephant is still in the room. You may say you see it or pretend it does not exist.
But stopping all operations from removing the elephant is not what you want. You want your well-trained squad with experience with wild animals to remove the elephant without damage or loss.
It would help if you allocated WHO should deal with your technical debt and WHEN. You can also find some creative solutions for that. This way, the technical debt reduction will be faster than the accumulation. And this is what you want!