What is technical debt?

Technical debt, also known as “design debt,” “code debt,” or “tech debt,” is defined as the result of a development team choosing a faster but less comprehensive solution to a problem over a slower but more comprehensive solution. Technical debt is also used to describe the resulting cost of later reworking the product in terms of resources and time resulting from this decision.

The notion should be viewed in the same light as monetary debt because failure to pay back the obligation can accrue “interest”, because the interest generated by technical debt will influence other areas of the project – particularly as the project progresses – it can be regarded to have accrued.

The word is often a more acceptable term to cover various issues during a product development project, including “bugs,” legacy code, missing documentation, and other problems.

If you’ve spent any time working in the software business, you’ve probably heard of “technical debt”. The phrase (or, more precisely, the metaphor) is extensively used in the technology field, also known as design debt or code debt. It’s a catch-all term that refers to anything from glitches to old code to missing documentation. It’s a blanket word that encompasses anything from bugs to old code to documentation holes.

The History of Technical Debt

Ward Cunningham, a software developer who was one of the 17 authors of the Agile Manifesto, is credited with coining the term “agile.” His other contributions include the development of a framework for integrated tests, design patterns, and extreme programming. Some pundits believe that accruing debt is a messy process that should be avoided at all costs, while others think it may be a valuable and intentional tool.

How do Technical Debts work?

Technical debt works the same way as any other debt: you get convenience in the short term, but you’ll have to pay back the money plus interest eventually. Quick fixes and shoddy solutions expedite software development, but dealing with these issues in the future is costly, time-consuming, and inconvenient. The following are some of the most prevalent signs of unpaid tech debt:

●     Product flaws that cause performance problems.

●     Longer time to market and release cycles.

●     Concerns about code quality.

●     Reduced team productivity and agility.

●     A poor user experience.

●     The higher total cost of ownership.

●     Cybersecurity weaknesses that can be exploited

●     Difficulties with scaling and adopting new technologies.

4 Types of Technical Debts

It is possible that a development team will consciously decide to incur debt or that they will do it by mistake, depending on several different reasons.

Design lag is a situation in which the creation of a product begins in earnest before any design work has been completed. This is most often the result of purposeful decision-making on the part of the individual.

1. Market pressures

This might occur when a pressing need arises to get a product to market more quickly than initially envisaged. It is possible that features will not be completed or installed correctly, or adjustments will not be completed. Usually, this is a well-thought-out decision.

2. Collaboration deficiency

The failure to share information across the organization means that any problems can occur, resulting in debt in the future. Inadvertent debt is a relatively typical sort of debt that occurs.

3. Knowledge gaps

A business may make decisions without having all of the necessary information and, as a result, may make mistakes that result in increased technical debt for the company. Corrections involving a variety of resources may be required later. Alternatively, a developer may lack the necessary understanding to build gracious code, resulting in unexpected issues later. Alternatively, outsourced work is discovered to be inadequate and necessitates more modification later on. These sorts of debt are classified as “inadvertent” types of debt.

I am avoiding industry standards – Delaying the integration of industry standards into design, frameworks, or technologies until a later date might result in financial penalties. Unless there is a significant knowledge gap in the organization, it is more likely that this was a deliberate decision than an error.

When product specifications are changed at the last minute, a company may not adequately prepare paperwork or conduct inspections that need to be addressed later. If a company cannot solve the problem promptly or chooses to prioritize other activities, it may accrue debt either accidentally or intentionally.

4. Inadequate direction

Instructions from executives or managers that are not given appropriate thought might leak down a company’s organizational hierarchy. Incorrect action taken in response to those instructions may result in inescapable technical debt later in the product development cycle. This is an unintentional debt.

There are many different ways in which debt can manifest itself. Others include:

●     Lack of product development flexibility due to hasty bug fixes that you must address later.

●     Work is being done on parallel aspects of the product that you must merge later but cannot do due to a lack of foresight.

●     A lack of controlled testing results in hasty bug fixes that must be addressed later but must be addressed first.


●     Tech debt happens when a developer rushes production using easy-to-implement, sub-optimal code or design solutions. The team must then return to this product (at some time) to add new features or change the code. Here are some of the most prevalent reasons why firms make these quality-speed tradeoffs:

●     A deliberate choice to see if a product or service is a good match for the market.

●     There may be a time limit or a money constraint.

●      Poor Software design decisions.

●     Coding abilities are insufficient.

●     Flawed Business judgments are faulty.

Is Technical Debt a Bad Thing?

Technical debt, like financial debt, is not regarded as either desirable or harmful in and of itself. Businesses in the modern software sector would be significantly more challenging to manage if they did not have it. Startups, in particular, must be operationally agile to remain relevant and successful, and they can make excellent use of the tradeoff: an early product launch with some technical debt in the toe can help maintain the business competitive in the long term.

It is critical to achieving a reasonable balance between benefits and obligations. A product that accumulates enormous amounts of unintended technical debt may be considered a sign of deeper problems in the organization’s foundation. In contrast, a product that properly utilizes small quantities of deliberate technical debt might be a significant asset to the organization.

The market and competitive factors are pressuring most software firms today to create and launch quickly. This “ship or sink” strain is felt most acutely by startups. Many product and software development teams are forced to choose between taking on technical debt and releasing later because of this demand for speed.

As a result, most agile teams agree that technical debt isn’t always a negative thing. In truth, almost all software products, if not all, contain some level of technical debt. This assertion is not unexpected when considering how much code teams ship daily (particularly in agile contexts where working software is the critical success metric).

Technical Debt: What Causes It?

For tech debt, there are four categories of underlying causes:

Business reasons: Sometimes, business needs get in the way of the finest development techniques. Tech debt is frequently caused by pressures to provide goods sooner or for less money.

Context shifts: Plans that made sense at the initial design may no longer make sense as time passes. Because technology stacks evolve and systems become obsolete, teams frequently adopt shortcuts to maintain the system’s functioning (relatively) current.

Causes of development: When you introduce limited resources, insufficient documentation, and a lack of testing to the coding process, you have development-based reasons.

Causes that benefit people: Tech debt is caused by a lack of experience or desire, as well as inadequate communication, scattered teams, and fluctuating resources.

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