What is technical debt?

A picture is worth a thousand words. Technical debt is what you see above. A temporary solution that over a period became a problem. Sometimes smaller, sometimes bigger. But the longer we wait the bigger is the risk it will explode and cover our business with odorous excrement. Moreover, like any debt, the longer we keep the liability, the bigger our payback will be.

You could say – who would be so careless to keep such a temporary solution for a long time! You are right. But as they say, temporary workarounds are the most persistent ones. Sometimes there is no time. Sometimes there are no resources. Later there is no time or resources to transform a temporary solution into something proper. Therefore, it stays with us. Until it becomes dangerous.

Technical debt exists in every IT project. In other forms, this phenomenon exists everywhere. In our home, at some messy place which starts to grow until suddenly we realize our whole apartment is a mess. In our body, where few cells grow out of control, and after many years we are diagnosed with cancer. In any business, where crucial operations are done by some single old person who suddenly dies or uses some ancient hardware that breaks and destroys the whole company.

Technical debt is a seed of chaos. The responsibility of software developers and IT managers is to keep it under control. Otherwise, we will be consumed by it one day. No matter the cost – let’s do not let it grow!

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