If you allow your technical debt to grow, the lack of quality of a system might eventually make it “too expensive” to maintain, resulting in technical bankruptcy.
What is technical debt?
Technical debt or tech debt is a term for all shortcuts, hacks, and poor design choices that compromised a system quality, commonly due to an attempt to meet a deadline. This concept is also known as code debt or design debt. Just like financial debt, technical debt needs to be repaid by taking the time to rewrite the original system fit with the current demands – a process that is known as refactoring.
Why should you repay tech debt?
Allowing tech debt to get bigger without a willingness to repay it can crash and even drag your startup to bankruptcy. The worst part if you fail to repay is that it can increase software entropy. Software entropy is a tendency for software to become difficult and costly to maintain. In addition, uncompleted changes when paying tech debt incur interest on top of interest, making it cumbersome to build a project.
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How to minimise tech debts happening to your system
1. Identifying debt
First and foremost technique to avoid code debt is by identifying whether your startup has fallen into it or not. And one way to keep track of debt is by making use of code analysis tools. Code analysis tools can help you identify consistency errors, lack of commenting and documentation, as well as other minor transgressions.
Likewise, identifying code debt will also rely heavily on your developers and their ability to convey the risks of choices to stakeholders. Yet, experienced developers are able to understand which code is good and which one is bad, helping your business to avoid much of debt
2. Having open discussion
Technical debt can be unavoidable sometimes, especially when dealing with a tight deadline. At the same time, there is an unknown debt that is very hurtful to organisation since you cannot take it into account when planning. Thusly, having an open discussion where developers are not afraid to surface issues is very practical to minimise the risk of debt
3. Prototyping to manage debt through validation
Since there is no debt in a prototype, it will be a very useful debt management tool. Prototyping and lean feature implementation can also be used for envisioning requirements and thus improving your system. It can also help you avoid unknown design debt into your product.
4. Accumulating protocols and data structures
Protocols and data structures should be the last one to be accumulated. This is because while architecture can be changed, code refactored or – in the worst case, rewritten – data structures and protocols will persist for a very long time. Thusly, it will add more burden on development.
Read also: Do The Right Things – A Guide When Your Startup Fails