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Detecting and Tracking Enterprise Technical Debt

This presentation shares a method for discovering and tracking enterprise technical debt and explains how we use it to inform investment planning in the SAFe lifecycle.

Software Engineering Institute



In our role of providing technical guidance for a large health-care organization (over 50+ systems) over the past five years, we surfaced many technical problems that have accumulated effort and cost over time. In other words, we saw a lot of technical debt! We noticed that some types of technical debt have greater enterprise consequence than others. For example, we saw how duplicative authentication/access control capabilities actually increased security risk and complexity across the entire enterprise. We refer to technical problems such as these as "enterprise technical debt." We also found that enterprise technical debt within the organization was usually not discovered until a crisis occurred. Therefore, over the past two years we introduced a method for discovering and tracking enterprise technical debt. In this session, I will share how our method works, examples of enterprise technical debt items, and pitfalls and lessons learned and explain how we used enterprise technical debt to inform the investment planning level of the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) lifecycle.