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Technical Debt: Why Should You Care?

This presentation explores common fallacies about technical debt and includes possible actions that development teams can take to better manage it.

Software Engineering Institute


The technical debt metaphor acknowledges that development teams sometimes accept compromises in a system in one dimension (for example, modularity) to meet an urgent demand in some other dimension (for example, a deadline), and that such compromises incur a “debt.” If not properly managed, the interest on this debt may continue to accrue, severely hampering system stability and quality and impacting the team’s ability to deliver enhancements at a pace that satisfies business needs.

Although unmanaged debt can have disastrous results, strategically managed debt can help businesses and organizations take advantage of time-sensitive opportunities, fulfill market needs, and acquire stakeholder feedback. Because architecture has such leverage within the overall development lifecycle, strategic management of architectural debt is of primary importance.

During this session, we will discuss the technical debt metaphor and learn about techniques for measuring and communicating technical debt. We’ll compare strategies and share practices to help make these choices. We will conclude by raising awareness of efforts to move beyond the metaphor and provide software engineers a foundation for managing tradeoffs based on models of their economic impacts.

This content was created for a conference series or symposium and does not necessarily reflect the positions and views of the Software Engineering Institute.