Some teams develop and maintain a technical debt register where the design decisions that lead to the creation of debt are rationalized. A technical debt register details the technical effects of expeditionary actions on the product implementation quality frequently in terms of impact, probability, and suggested remedy.
If the team has a well-ordered product backlog, recommending mitigation may be possible during some sprints. Also, dependencies and assumptions may be featured in the register, along with some risks that can turn into issues.
A technical debt register helps facilitate teams about the way they should manage incurred risks. They can make informed and sensible decisions about whether to incur debt or not and when to pay it back. The usage of technical debt register is not part of the scrum but can help the team control the technical debt they decide to take on. For example, sometimes technical debt is paid off when implementing items in the product backlog. In other cases, it may not be possible, and the debt needs to be addressed separately.
Technical Debt Register Google Sheets
Developing an understanding of challenges and risks is not enough. Organizations must develop a means of the objective to track and record it too.
The creation of a technical debt register is one of the common approaches to documenting and listing that explains the problems and consequences, identifies the issues, and suggests resources such as cost and time to address the problem. The technical debt register is sometimes tied to the project roadmap by some organizations to identify future functionalities and features that would facilitate the resolution of the issue.
Any technical debt registry or list will include categories. Some categories include issues in terms of complexity and type, such as architecture, code debt, design debt, test debt, or infrastructure debt. Others list issues in terms of severity as minor, low, critical, or major; and rank them in priority as medium, low, immediate, or high.
Technical Debt Challenges
Consider a software application that runs on a dedicated hardware platform, such as a server with a specified type of processor. The platform is essential to the business, yet businesses decide to skip upgrading software that will enable the workload to run on more VMs or hardware and add competitive features. One day the server might fail. The business may not have suitable hardware to deal with the workload and must spend money and time to develop a replacement application.
This is an extreme example, but the impact of technical debt can be higher. But technical debt can be there in far more pervasive and subtle places. Consider the scenarios below:
- Poor Style. Lack of standards in the code, or the team’s setup and installation hardware without proper cable markings and ports, makes services problematic and later changes.
- A project lacks clarity in requirements and set definitions. The finished project requires reworks or changes due to added requirements and definitions or changes at the last minute.
- Inadequate configuration. Overlooking the settings of the hardware may lead to security issues and affect performance.
- Omitted or inadequate testing. Software functions and features may contain issues that require fixes or patches later.
- Poor collaboration. Notorious or silos for technical debt that incurs as parallel efforts merge and reconcile.
- Inadequate documentation. Software or hardware which is not properly documented makes the team rediscover or relearn the work. This extra effort is the technical debt.
- Delayed updates. Old code refactoring improves interoperability and performance. Delaying such upgrades and updates build technical debt.
- Business pressure leads to compromises to release or complete a project. The result is poor or incomplete performance and needs later fixes.
- Bugs. Defects are technical debts as they require effort and time to remediate.
- Non-modular and closely coupled code. The code can quickly result in technical debt due to a lack of flexibility when adaptations and changes are required to comply with business needs.
Technical Debt Template Excel
Tools to manage technical debt
Help ticketing systems are a typical resource and indicator for potential issues identification. But several tools facilitate managing and measuring technical debt, especially in software development projects. Below are some examples of such tools:
Tech Debt in Jira
Jira monitors the backlog of workflow in project management.
Other Tech Debt Management Tools
- Stepsize tracks issues in the codebase.
- Teamscale improves and measures the quality of the code.
- Code Climate Velocity assigns resources and improves workflows.
Most of these tools can be integrated into the software development toolset and facilitate functions and features that are beyond the technical debt indications. Gain expertise and test prospective tools before you invest.
Technical Debt FAQs
What is a technical debt register?
A technical debt register is a document that identifies, documents, and lists issues and explains the resulting problems or consequences, and suggests resources such as cost and time to fix the problem.
What is an example of technical debt?
An example of a technical issue is an instance where teams drop the internal best practices and review standards when faced with a tight deadline. This leads to quality issues in the code and the team may not be aware of it until they face issues in the product.
How do you document technical debt?
The common way to document technical debt is to create a technical debt register, document, or list that identifies the problem explains the problems and consequences and suggests resources such as cost and time to fix it.
What qualifies as technical debt?
Technical debt is also known as code debt or tech debt and describes the development team expediting the delivery of functionality or the project at hand which needs to be refactored later. In other words, they are the result of preferring speedy delivery over code perfection.