3 Techniques to Reduce Technical Debt

Technical debt describes the consequence of implementing partial software development solutions instead of more effective long-term solutions. As technical debt will always exist, the project manager should find a suitable threshold and remain below those levels. Underneath you will find three helpful techniques to keep technical debt in check: buffer tasks, code cleanup releases and technical backlog.

3 Techniques to Reduce Technical Debt

Buffer task
Creating a buffer task means setting aside a small percentage of the workload schedule to reduce technical debt. It is a simple way to insure the technical debt’s handling. However, you have to be very careful about the buffer’s use: having a permanent buffer can lead to unclear priorities, giving the team an altered focus.

‘Code cleanup’ releases
Code cleanup releases are another option but there are some points to bear in mind before considering implementing this kind of release. First, the list of refactorings has to be well defined before the beginning of the release. You should also consider that this kind of release generally delays the development of business features. So it’s important to get user support before engaging in this type of technical work. Finally, a cleanup release should be kept for changes in the codebase and architecture. This release should not include trivial issues.

Technical backlog
This is probably the best way of dealing with technical debt. Project stakeholders list each technical debt issue in a backlog, with a short description of the issue, its location and importance. Building this backlog will allow to have a clear view of your project’s state. If combined with indicators from solutions like SonarQube, you will have a practically thorough overview of your technical debt.

Whichever technique you choose to manage your technical debt, the key point is to keep it under control. To do so, monitor it with dashboards as well as alerts and plan technical work on a regular basis.

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