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Jignesh Solanki
Jignesh Solanki

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An Introduction to Technical Debt

Do you often face challenges while upgrading your web applications due to unattended bugs in the code? Is your project becoming a victim of delayed lead times? If yes, chances are you are dealing with growing technical debt. Unfortunately, while most organizations deploy a proper system to deal with technical debt at the backend, the front end suffers from poor debt management.

In fact, 6 in 10 CIOs have experienced a significant increase in the amount of debt accumulated by companies over the years. Moreover, a developer survey reported that engineers spend around 33% of their time handling technical debt.

Although experts claim that technical debt is unavoidable, you can significantly reduce it by adopting the right approach to product development and avoiding a few mistakes on the way. This blog will give you a brief idea of technical debt, its causes, and effective ways to reduce it for your future development projects. Let's take a glance at what it means -

What is Technical Debt?

In theory, technical debt is all the development work you need to do in the future because you skipped to include agility and profitability in the present.

It is no secret that organizations and development teams don't always adhere to every best software development practice. Often, deadlines are a priority, and developers must take a shortcut to expedite the product shipment. On other occasions, the development team lacks the necessary resources to follow every rule in the book. As a result, the teams must find a workaround to deliver the software in time without fixing the details, leading to piling up the debt.

Now, technical debt can be both deliberate and accidental and can stem from both reckless and prudent decisions. The unfortunate part is unlike financial debt, technical debt is inevitable. As newer frameworks become obsolete, new testing methodologies show up, and you learn new design practices on the job. The cleanest of codebases accrue technical debt over time by technological advancements.

What are the leading causes of technical debt?

While the reason for rising technical debt may vary for every company, some standard practices lead to its build-up-

1. Increase in time pressure - Development teams are often compelled to release their applications without ensuring that the codes are clean and bug-free to follow the project timelines. This approach leads to compromising the performance of an application.

2. Constant design changes - To meet the changing user requirements and new market opportunities, organizations make occasional changes to the application's original design, leading to inconsistencies in the code.

3. Lack of code automation - As the codebase grows, developers must leverage automation to the maximum. Without automation, the development cycle becomes chaotic and messy, which makes scalability an impossible feat.

4. Growth in duplicate Code - With a lack of reusable code in place, developers end up writing the same code repeatedly for similar functionality. It leads to an increase in code duplication causing UI inconsistencies.

5. Absence of application refactoring - With a robust plan for application refactoring, you can continuously improve your code readability and performance and eliminate any bugs that might have occurred. In the absence of such a plan, you have to deal with spaghetti code and failing functionality.

3 strategies to reduce technical debt

Documentation is crucial

Sometimes, development teams allow the accumulation of technical debt to meet tight deadlines and ensure fast product delivery. However, in such situations, it is essential to document the reasons for the debt and a potential solution to the problem for future developers to work their way through without spending countless hours on it.

Testing should be a priority.

Testing is often compromised when delivering a product, which can lead to hidden bugs that may bring down the application's performance over time. Therefore, you will figure out what can break your application and repair it in advance with a complete automated testing action plan.

Frequent code reviews are valuable.

In addition to practicing writing clean and clear code from scratch, development teams should make code reviews part of their work culture. This practice will also reduce frequent refactoring and allow teams to push changes without breaking the codebase.

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