How Can IT Startups Grow Fast While Decreasing Technical Debt
How Can IT Startups Grow Fast While Decreasing Technical Debt
Startups are intimidating as well as exciting. A fresh start surrounded by limited resources and high uncertainties. All the pressure and overwhelming events can lead any company to result in technical debt. The meaning and definition of technical debt can vary from one company to another. And so, understanding of the same becomes important. Along with the meaning and understanding, the ways of handling it is another major thing to focus on. People view technical debt as some kind of an evil. To throw more light on the subject, let us get to our understanding of the same.
What is Technical Debt?
Technical debt is also known as Tech Debt or Code Debt and it is just like how it sounds- imagine a house mortgage. The condition while picking up a loan is that it will be repaid in some time with the applied interest and if failed to do so, the buyer would probably lose the house. In the case of technical debt, companies are encouraged to manufacture software faster recognizing that they need to fix the anomalies they are leaving while rushing for speed to market. It is like choosing an easy and quick approach rather than a better and an effective one. In most cases, businesses turn to this process to comply with deadlines. Various factors like delayed refactoring, lack of skill, time pressures, and others may cause technical debt. With time, these factors result in the inflation of technical inefficiencies that need to be serviced in the coming time. Unchecked and unattended technical debt can make the software expensive to change.
How Serious is the Problem of Technical Debt?
To start with, technical debt is not a crime! And so it should not be considered like one. Technical debt occurs due to some understandable and acceptable reasons. These reasons range from being directly associated or indirectly associated. Technologies and systems become old and outdated leading to increased maintenance costs anyways.
Technical debts creep in different ways. Some ways how technical debts add up are :
- Taking shortcuts
Developers pick up the practice of copying and pasting code to save time. This is considered to be one of the common reasons for technical debt. Due to time crunch, there are possibilities that developers skip out the testing of the code or promise to run the test later. Well, in such cases, the developer would have to go back and run the required tests later. This increases the chances of technical debt as not every time the developer would have time to go back and test.
- Lack of experience
Less experienced developers may fail to recognize the importance of code quality while going for speed. Unless the standards are set and there is a push to keep technical debt low as a KRA, technical debt may go up spirally.
Why Faster to Market May Mean Greater Technical Debt?
Technical debt is the result of rushing things and avoiding long term thinking and considerations. Many times the focus for teams is to build more in less time. This makes them rush into things and leads them to make brisk decisions. Even though the technical debt is not bad but just like any financial debt, if it is not repaid, it may have some serious consequences. The reason that runs behind the same is the fact that choosing an easy option rather than a better one is just a temporary solution.
Impacts of Technical Debt
- Reduces Forward Motion
Instead of focusing on new features or vital new improvements, the issue with technical debt is when it gets out of reach and development teams spend much of their time paying off the ‘interest payments’ from the previous projects. It is inevitably necessary to repay the technical debt and that comes at the expense of adding new functionality or working on other changes that drive the product forward. Progress turns stagnant. The development team spends hours, maybe days, even weeks, battling the fast-and-dirty code instead of resolving new improvement requests to bring the product to a state in which potential changes will not be a tedious effort.
- Poor Design And Performance Quality
If the fast and dirty route is taken to hit a deadline, developers could bypass the conventional clean, structured, code writing protocol. The code structure would therefore be messy and potentially poor in readability. There are various red flags of poor design such as inconsistent code behaviour, ignoring descriptive names of the modules, not connecting the modules and others. A backlog of things connected to cleaning up the code would be the technical debt associated with bad design. It could be a boon for your company to put out a not-quite-perfect product, but it could also have daunting implications. The technical debt associated with a volatile output display product is related to fixing bugs, device crashes and bandwidth of engineers.
- Increased Testing Efforts
The QA (quality assurance) code testing team will be pressured to speed up their process with an imminent launch deadline and likely miss tests, or swear to fix them later, and technical debt will be incurred to finally go back and conduct the missed tests. This has a negative effect in that you are launching code that has been rushed or only minimally checked by testing.
How Technical Debt Increases Project Costs?
Bringing back the reference of technical debt being similar to a house mortgage, the costs associated with it are no different than interest payments. These costs can be both in the form of cash costs as well as soft costs.
- Cash costs
These may be in the form of additional man-force required to undo what has been done that involves spending more time, effort, and money. Along with this comes the cost of lost sales due to inefficiency and system outages.
- Soft costs
Soft costs are not related to quantifiable, actual monetary amounts, they are rather the ones that are harder to save on. These may be in the form of reduced efficiency and productivity and the inability to return to understand and adapt to changes.
How To Manage Technical Debt During High Pace Development?
- Identify the source of the issue
The first thing that you need to do to reduce technical debt is to identify its source. Through various interviews and surveys, the team discovers that one of the main drivers of technical debt, for instance, is the lack of time. Members of the IT team, face tight deadlines, turn to custom point-to-point coding integrations to rapidly deliver projects. Even though this is a short-sighted approach, because of these time constraints, they justify it that generates more technical debt.
- Adopt A New Technology Approach
The team needs to follow a modern integration strategy that promotes long-term thought in order to minimize technical debt. An approach that allows teams to think not only about the short-term execution of projects on schedule but also about creating a long-term vision for potential projects. As in the case of time constraints, the team looks out for API-led connectivity for connecting data, devices, systems through various APIs. Connectivity led by the API enables companies to push their vision for reusability. In order to meet business needs, IT teams can easily write, recompose, and adapt these APIs, which in turn helps them to minimize technical debt.
- Modify The Organizational Mindset
We understand that API-led connectivity relies on reusable APIs for the framework, process, and experience, which are used to create new services and empower teams to decentralize and democratize access to enterprise data. Teams need to alter their organizational mentality to suit the strategy in order to properly incorporate API-led connectivity. By adopting a Center for Enablement, or C4E, this can be achieved.
- Continuous Improvisation
Companies should follow a similar pattern to deal with technical debt. Along with this, companies can constantly and continuously improvise their ways and means to manage and deal with tech debt. The path you choose to deal with technical debt may change with different situations and can be altered accordingly.
- Automate Your Code Review
Improved code quality leads to less time spent on dealing and working on technical debt. The higher individuals rated their code’s consistency, the time spent on fixing bugs decreases almost logarithmically. And you can never go wrong with the right set of code review tools.
When handling technical debt, think Agile
One of the popular approaches that help in dealing with technical debt is the Agile approach. It is considered to be an alternative way to deal with technical debt because of its easy bug fixes, test-driven development, planning sessions and so on. All of this together helps to deal with debt and keeps the work going on.
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Think of technical debt as a tool with the potential to make or break the release cycle of your product, grasp it, use it, and handle it from a long-term perspective. With new thinking, new ideas, and new answers for the future, Codegrip has the perfect set of skills and knowledge for all businesses and companies. From debt solutions to software solutions, Codegrip is the one place for all your IT needs.”
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