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Alex Omeyer for Stepsize

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How to deal with tech debt—Lessons learned from the best engineering teams

A few months ago, a random Twitter encounter led to me meeting the fantastic Janna Bastow as she was preparing her new talk: Decisions, Debt, and other Dilemmas.

I was in the middle of my quest to interview as many top software engineering teams as was necessary to nail the perfect process to manage tech debt.

Needless to say, we blew right past the time we'd allocated for our introductory call as we were riffing about technical debt and how big a role it plays in the daily decisions of Agile software development teams.

Janna and the ProdPad team were incredibly kind to organise a webinar for me to talk about what I'd learned from the 200 top engineering teams I'd interviewed about tech debt.

In this talk, you will learn:

  • How to define and understand tech debt.
  • The tactics for dealing with tech debt head on.
  • Processes and tools to use when dealing with small, medium, and large pieces of tech debt.
  • How to think and approach tech debt depending on your company’s stage, size, business priorities, culture, and more.


2:38 — What is tech debt?
3:31 — Why is tech debt a thing?
5:09 — Martin Fowler's Technical Debt Quadrant.
6:22 — Tech debt myths to debunk.
8:12 — Why bother managing technical debt properly?
10:20 — Creating your tech debt management strategy.
To get you started with this, you can take our 1 minute 'tech debt credit score' test to find out how much debt you can take on and why.
15:42 — The one cultural characteristic for a healthy codebase.
18:41 — How to create & think about your tech debt budget.
21:40 — How to deal with 'small' debt.
22:40 — How to deal with 'medium-sized' debt.
27:01 — How to deal with 'large' debt.
29:12 — High level takeaways.
30:02 — A SaaS product to help you manage tech debt.
30:53 — Q&A.

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