Technical debt: definition, types, and tips to avoid it

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During the development of a technological project, technical debt can accumulate and become a significant problem that affects the quality of the software, development speed, and performance. On this occasion, we’ll tell you what you should know to identify and try to avoid technical debt.

What is a technical debt?

Technical debt is a term used to describe the additional cost associated with the maintenance and evolution of software due to poor code quality or lack of documentation.

It accumulates when short-term design or programming decisions are made instead of addressing long-term issues. This can include the use of quick solutions, the employment of low-quality code, the lack of automated testing, absence of documentation, among other causes.

It can have a negative impact on performance, scalability, security, and the software’s ability to adapt to changes in the business. Therefore, it is important for companies to take measures to minimize technical debt and keep the software in good condition.

These are the 5 types:

  1. Code debt: it refers to the quality of the code and its ability to be maintained and evolved. This may include duplicated code, insufficient comments, lack of code structure, and absence of automated tests.
  2. Design debt: it concerns the quality of the software’s design and its ability to scale and adapt to changes in the business. This may involve non-scalable architecture, lack of modularity, and absence of design patterns.
  3. Documentation debt: it is the lack of documentation and absence of information about the internal workings of the software. This can encompass a lack of architecture diagrams, absence of code documentation, and a lack of user manuals.
  4. Performance debt: it refers to the performance of the software and its ability to handle an adequate workload. This may include bottlenecks, lack of scalability, and absence of performance optimization.
  5. Security debt: it involves the lack of security measures and protection against attacks and vulnerabilities.

How to identify it?

Although it can be challenging to detect, here are some ways to identify it:

  1. Difficulty in making changes. If a software project has become challenging to modify or update, technical debt may have accumulated. Changes may require a significant amount of time and effort, indicating underlying issues.
  2. Quality issues. Frequent user problems or errors in the software may be indicative of technical debt.
  3. Performance problems. Slow software execution or frequent crashes can suggest underlying issues.
  4. Lack of documentation. Poorly documented software can make it difficult for developers to understand its workings and make improvements.
  5. Lack of testing. Insufficient testing of the software may lead to undetected issues.
  6. Lack of updates. If the software has not been updated for a long time, it may be a sign of accumulated technical debt.

8 tips to avoid it

  1. Clean design: ensure that the code is well-designed, maintainable, and scalable from the beginning.
  2. Automated testing: implement automated tests to confirm code quality and detect issues.
  3. Documentation: ensure thorough code documentation, providing developers with a clear understanding of how it works.
  4. Technical debt tracking: regularly track technical debt and address issues as they arise.
  5. Refactoring: regularly refactor code to improve its quality and avoid the accumulation of technical debt.
  6. Communication: ensure all team members are aligned with project goals and objectives.
  7. Training: confirm that all team members are trained in software development best practices and stay updated on the latest technologies.
  8. Monitoring tools and technologies evolution: stay updated on the latest trends and technologies to avoid scalability and performance issues.

It is crucial for development teams to be aware of technical debt and take measures to reduce and manage it effectively. Although it may require extra effort, managing technical debt can help make a system sustainable and scalable in the long term. At MyTaskPanel Consulting, we have the best professionals, specialists in recognizing and resolving it.