March 8, 2023
How to Balance Technical Debt vs. Features In Your Technology Roadmap
In simple terms, technical debt refers to the cost of doing things quickly over doing things right. Traditionally, software is developed in stages. These stages are often based on features and fixes. A new method for software development is referred to as Agile. Agile development is a feature-based approach with cross-functional teams focused on collaboration. Because technical debt can create problems within an organization, it is important to understand business priorities.
Setting priorities and focusing on what is needed now will determine what should be added later. Throughout the development cycle changes may dictate what features can be implemented and when. Features will add more complexity and cost. While developers may want to add more features, QA may slow down the development process with testing and changes.
Having a technology roadmap with clearly defined goals can help limit technical debt. Features can be prioritized and added as needed. By staying focused on customer needs instead of wants, developers can add features incrementally. This approach can provide better technology while avoiding more technical debt.
Use an Agile Approach
Agile provides the ability to adapt to change. The focus is on community development and collaboration. Cross-functional teams can solve problems faster and ensure greater version stability. Agile projects are iterative or repeated to allow for refactoring. Agile also is based on milestones that require a detailed analysis of a project’s development. Using an Agile approach will help limit technical debt and provide better technology.
Build Modular Architecture
With a modular approach new components can be evaluated before increasing technical debt. The benefit of modular design is fewer dependencies across a project. Refactoring is easier and modules can be reused in other applications. There is less complexity and applications are able to scale by adding new modules. Libraries and features can also be modular and added in the same way.
Use Cloud Technology Services
One of the greatest benefits of cloud hosting is speed and flexibility. A cloud software solution provides all the services a business might need. Being able to use and test these services in real-time can help determine features and services to add or remove from your technology roadmap. Cloud services allow developers to get applications up and running quickly. This quick deployment cycle means developers can focus on application development. Software changes and updates can be automated, making it easier to identify problems and issues. Cloud technology services can help balance technical debt by making changes faster and easier.
Implement a process
Always document and share the things that need to be fixed or improved. Sharing these things will ensure everyone understands there is debt that must be paid. Everyone should also be working towards the same goals. This process should include time to review anything that has been neglected or forgotten. Giving teams time and direction to address problems will help prevent frustration and conflict. Having time to address existing problems will allow for new features to be added without adding more debt.
It may be necessary to separate teams to prevent delays in other areas of development. Assigning one week or one sprint towards technical debt will create a better product and pave the way for new features.
Have a plan
It may sound simple, but having a plan to manage your debt can help prevent further debt accumulation as your business scales. Software is usually launched quickly with limited features and the need for future updates. Otherwise, it is released later with more features at a higher cost. These higher costs can negatively impact your bottom line. Never ignore your debt, but instead provide resources to keep debt to a minimum. Focus on priorities and your technology roadmap. Any debt should be considered a business risk that needs to be paid down. Having a plan will keep your teams on track and limit further accumulation of technical debt.
- By staying focused on customer needs instead of wants, developers can add features incrementally. This approach can provide better technology while avoiding higher debt.
- Using an Agile approach will help limit debt and provide better technology.
- With a modular approach new components can be evaluated before increasing more debt.
- Cloud technology services can help offset debt by making changes faster and easier.
- Assigning one week or one sprint towards software fixes will create a better product and pave the way for new features.
- Having a plan will keep your teams on track and limit further accumulation of technical debt.