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Summary: Companies are getting seriously over their head with technical debt – which occurs when software is deployed without a strategic long-term plan, when cost or speed was selected over quality. The biggest symptom of technical debt is poorly written or redundant code and it leads to uncontrollable costs, siloed systems and an inability to gain control of technology run rampant.

This is a topic I recently explored in a Forbes Technology Council article. While technical debt can be caused by mismanagement and a lack of strategic oversight, there are other reasons beyond the control of IT or any department. Budget concerns can delay modernization efforts, solutions needed quickly can be deemed “good enough,” and the speed of business might demand knee-jerk reactions to software sourcing. Regardless of the reason, once technical debt creeps in, companies are challenged with rising costs, a loss of productivity and siloed systems. 

The best way to address technical debt is to avoid it in the first place. Below are some of the ways companies can accomplish this, as outlined in the Forbes article. 

Start with Object-Oriented Design.

Progressive software development practices, such as object-oriented design, which organizes software design around objects (data) rather than functions and logic, enables developers to make changes to software without having to alter the structure of it. If object-oriented design is deployed from the outset, developers can “tweak” objects and optimize programs without changing the structure of the software. Some types of object oriented programming languages include Java, Python or C++.


Clean Code as you go.

The best way to remove cruft (bad code) in software projects is to avoid it in the first place. Object oriented design, better technical oversight and quality and more strategic planning can help to preven it, but cruft happens. According to Fowler, removing cruft is like cleaning as you go while cooking. There’s no way to avoid dirty dishes, but if you don’t clean them as you go, it will be really hard to remove the crud later. By removing as much cruft as possible in programming, technical debt is reduced since quality software comprises the tech stack.  

Conduct regular code reviews.

It’s important to have software programs reviewed regularly to understand the coding logic and approach taken. An internal Code Quality and Review Council  can help with this, also helping to set standard operating procedures and policies across the company. These reviews can result in in the need to refactor or rewrite code or establish a means of gradual improvement. 

Understand that Coding is as Much an Art as it is a Science.

It’s well known in the software industry that programmers take great pride in their code. Every programmer likes to write software, but very few like to maintain someone else’s software. By establishing a culture of quality and appealing to a programmer’s pride of work, good software can be created from the beginning,  

For companies drowning in technical debt, it can be a long process to getting out of the red, but once debt is reduced, greater enterprise-wide visibility, quality control and strategic planning can make sure that you stay of it for good.  

Overcoming Technical Debt: Strategies & Solutions

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