Technical debt sneaks up on organisations and their systems. It is inevitable.
The ability of dealing with, managing, remediating it differentiates successful businesses from the rest.
Technical debt builds up over time. It could take years for it to amount to significance. If unattended, it reaches a time when the fixing costs are higher than the return from it.
The system still produces value at this point, it has not gone bankrupt. There are even workarounds to some of the issues.
However, innovation, new feature and product introduction is not sustainable anymore – nobody wants to touch a house of cards system, or pay the premium for the overhead of dealing with the mess.
The system enters the zone of – kicking the can down the road.
Occasionally, a large(ish) investment into the existing system might be justified if it generates enough value – as opposed to replacing it entirely, which would be too expensive.
In most cases, just enough fixes are applied to keep the lights on and to keep sweating the asset for the rest of its operational life.
Minimise the effect of bad debt and extend the productive lifespan of a system by
- Looking out for the technical debt indicators
- Putting strategies in place for managing technical debt