We’ve all been there: an issue crops up at work, and it’s easier (and, in the moment, less stressful) to go with the quicker solution despite its obvious setbacks. Months later, you’re looking at the solution you chose and thinking, “Why on Earth didn’t I just take the time to do it right the first time?!” For IT engineers, these quickly patched problems often snowball into technical debt. Your quickly coded solution results in further bugs or lagging functionality that you have to go back and fix, eating into hours of time you could spend on more productive tasks — like iterating on new product features. Not to mention, the longer the debt accumulates, the more money it could cost your organization to fix.
Here’s the good news — you definitely aren’t the only IT engineer who’s dealing with hours of tasks and added pressure from built up technical debt. In fact, the average organization wastes 23%-42% of its development time on technical debt. It’s a widespread issue driving thousands of engineers just like you crazy! 😫
What's the solution? The answer lies in prevention.
How Does Technical Debt Accumulate?
To begin understanding how to prevent technical debt, you need to know how it accumulates. It’s alarmingly easy for technical debt to stockpile up — just think of how many times your team has had a looming deadline, yet the end-result isn’t quite ready yet. To meet the demand for the new application or service, you patch up the issue with custom code, saying you’ll revisit it soon…and as time goes by, the product works well enough, your quick-fix slips your mind, and you continue tending to more pressing challenges. Months later you’ve got an issue on your hands that you’ve already built code over, and it’s going to take you hours to fix.
Or, perhaps your company has made an adjustment and is updating their tech stack. You need to make the switch rapidly, but with obsolete servers near the end of their useful life, you transfer information and data over a little less methodically than you would have liked. And in some cases can't even achieve the modern infrastructure you're looking to implement because of server failures. As you struggle to adjust to the new tech, you add a few more quick fixes here and there, only to notice months later that you’ve got some duplicate data that’s slowing everyone down. Now you’re looking at a week’s worth of sorting through data and reorganizing information.
For a team working with pressing deadlines and sudden bugs to fix, it’s no wonder that sometimes those quick-fixes seem like the best solution at the time, but then go forgotten. You don’t have time to go back and correct the errors that result in technical debt. By the time you’ve caught what has now led to a new issue, it’s snowballed into a complication that’ll take twice as long to fix! It's simply too much operational troubleshooting taking you away from the meaningful aspects of your job function.
So… what if we told you that you could catch these situations early, when it’ll only take you 10-15 minutes to solve? It’s time to start learning how to manage your technical debt. 💪
Start Managing Your Technical Debt
Managing your technical debt begins with determining how much technical debt your organization is comfortable handling. It’s nearly impossible to eliminate technical debt entirely (we know… bummer!), so you need to become comfortable with a level you think is minimal and manageable. Once you’ve determined the realistic level of tech debt you’re comfortable with, you can take a few steps to begin managing it:
- Identify: Start by identifying where your tech debt exists. You can’t begin managing an unknown mass of debt, so combing through your existing code base and tech stack to locate your debt gives you a starting point. Maybe your debt lies in quick bug fixes, or maybe the bulk of it lies in your data. Do a full audit of what you’ve got to manage!
- Plan: With your debt identified, make a plan to eliminate what you can and manage what you can’t. For instance, you may determine you can continue managing the excess data in your tech stack for a few more weeks. You choose this because you’ve determined that you need to re-code a bug on your website immediately. With limited time and manpower, you need to prioritize certain debt over others.
- Execute: Once you’ve determined your strategy to deal with tech debt, start taking on your debt by enacting your plan step by step. Set aside time to go in and fix the problems you know will eliminate your debt, and set clear expectations for managing the rest so that your team doesn’t accidentally add to the problem.
- Standardize: With the debt you can eliminate taken care of, and the rest managed, it’s time to start looking towards preventing your debt from accumulating again. Standardize processes within your team to avoid further debt accumulation. For instance, you might have a reporting system for engineers to use when they perform a quick, temporary fix on code. This could help you keep track of potential technical debt in the future, and remind you to assign tasks to go back and properly fix the code.
Eliminating and managing your technical debt may seem intimidating, but with dedication and a standardized plan, you can begin to make the mountain of work less headache-inducing. Plus, with the right tools, you can make managing your technical debt easier than ever. Say hello to serverless orchestration, your new best friend for managing and preventing technical debt accumulation. 😎
How to Reduce Technical Debt with a Serverless Orchestration Engine
With a serverless orchestration engine, you can leverage your current code, containers, and in-house developed scripts without adding to technical debt. How? It’s simple: with event-based, serverless workflows, you can reuse your code and processes as building blocks. This helps you scale and meet user demands faster and with fewer hiccups. 🥳 By using code you’ve already built, the likelihood of manual error drastically decreases. Instead of developing, you can configure new services from the building blocks you’ve already created. And with a platform-agnostic orchestration engine like Direktiv, you can reduce integrations to make things that much easier on you and your team.
For instance, you’re building out a new feature on your company’s app. Where you used to manually write all of that code, you can reuse building blocks — like the search function or different CTA buttons — simply and easily. You’re able to spend more time on the new code you need, lowering the likelihood of manual error that results in technical debt. With a process and toolset like this in place, you’re not coming to work in six months to find an unexpected, massive technical debt problem that’ll take you all month to solve.
Technical debt has created headaches for IT engineers for far too long. It's incredibly burdensome and can be quite costly. A recent survey (McKinsey) reported that tech debt absorbed 10%-20% of the technology budget for new products and as much as 40% of the value of a company’s entire tech stack.
It’s time to start actively preventing technical debt at your company with the help of a serverless orchestration engine. Direktiv’s easy-to-use, platform-agnostic orchestration engine lets you build the event-driven workflows you need. Now, you can spend more time focusing on exciting product iterations, increasing time-to-market for new releases, and more — with less risk of manual error.
Discover the delight of working technical debt-free and get started with Direktiv.