Reduce Technical Debt with These 5 Project Management Techniques

For those not acquainted with the technology field, the term “technical debt” may appear as a poor excuse for releasing an imperfect or incomplete product. This may be understandable, considering that numerous developers might employ this idea as a justification for project failures.

One could make a case that a technician who employs a hammer to forcefully extract a bolt should not blame the hammer, similarly, the tool itself should not be held accountable for the misuse of technical debt as a tool.

Ward Cunningham was the first to introduce the term “technical debt”. Cunningham was among the seventeen authors of the Agile Manifesto. The principle behind this concept is akin to financial debt; an investment can be made without the need to wait for available funds. However, the loan must be paid back with interest to indemnify the lender for assuming additional risk.

The comparison can be continued with the example of loans being granted in the form of time or resources during the process of software development. Although the initial solution may be below-standard, the team arises to fine-tune it whenever more superior strategies or information becomes accessible. This is similar to the ‘interest charge’ for the loan.

As a project advances and grows in terms of size and intricacy, it becomes more challenging to handle its technical debt; much like handling monetary debt. This engages in more refactoring, issue resolution, documentation, and monitoring code quality.

Team members who comprehend technical debt’s approach as an investment can strategically utilize it in generating work of high quality. Nonetheless, just like any other tool, it is crucial to adhere to its instructions for optimal outcomes. Even though there is no definite way of eluding technical debt, exceptionally effective teams possess certain practices in common.

Interacting with clients provides an excellent way to appraise the expenses and dangers related to your debt.

Making well-informed decisions requires comprehensive knowledge about the details of your debt, including the amount and cause of it. Assess your debt using the user metrics listed below:

  • Expenses:

    As the entity responsible for the technical debt, it is imperative to examine the potential “costs” that may arise. These may involve missing out on promising opportunities, decreased profits, or wasted time. Each of these losses’ severity may vary significantly depending on a particular client. In the healthcare sector, a process inefficiency could result in potentially disastrous consequences, while in other companies, it may cause a mere inconvenience. Acquiring a complete familiarity with clients’ demands is essential to ensure their requirements are satisfied.
  • Threats:

    Risk refers to the chance of undesirable outcomes, while expenses are considered as loss. The most unfavorable consequence is when the technical debt cannot be addressed. When evaluating possible risks, the customer’s business plan should be considered. One instance of a potential risk to be cautious of is the probability of cyber-attacks resulting from security weaknesses.

As a project manager, possessing an extensive comprehension of the customer’s company and retaining frequent communication with end-users will prove beneficial. This enables the detection of expenses and threats that may crop up during the software’s development. It is also crucial to be mindful of any possible consequences that may manifest after the software is launched.

Collaborate to ascertain the particulars of your debt.

The Software Engineering Institute has prepared a guide to aid you in managing thirteen distinct types of debt. Grasping the intricacies of your debt can help in designing a course of action.

  • Structure has a considerable amount of debt
  • Escalate the Debt
  • Shortfall in Time for Software Development (code Debt)
  • Unrecoverable Debt
  • Structural Debt
  • Documentation Debt
  • Works’ Public Obligation
  • People’s Debt
  • Debt Management
  • Debt Servicing Required
  • Repay Debt
  • Test Automation Debt
  • Debt of Stress

It can prove to be challenging to determine which debt holds a higher priority based only on their varying types. Hence, it is recommended to contemplate and assess the potential implications before taking any actions. Developing a comprehension of the specifics concerning the location of the debt can aid in effectively managing your resources, and it can allow you to explore the option of consolidating multiple loans into one consolidated debt.

Regular meetings, information sharing and review sessions enable teams to recognize and classify any debts due to each other. Introducing a new viewpoint can aid in identifying any financial obligations that may have been overlooked previously. It is crucial to reinforce to the staff that debts are not the end of the road; although risks are an inescapable aspect of business, they can be viewed as potential opportunities.

To Avoid Deepening Your Debt, It’s Essential to Monitor Your Financial Situation Regularly.

Apart from recognizing potential risks and their origins, and computing their expenses, it is vital to accurately document any debts as they come up. The product manager should keep a current record of all outstanding obligations. Although this might seem like common sense, only 7% of developers follow through with this practice.

Monitoring technical debt is crucial to minimize the expenses of its development. Maintaining accurate records will save both time and money when repaying loans. To learn more, check out our blog post on the advantages of device-as-a-service for distributed organizations.

It is crucial for product managers to recognize the significance of supervising technical debt tickets and static code analysis. Neglecting to keep a technical debt list on par with other demands can result in disregarding it until the very conclusion of a project.

Disseminate Information About the Debt

If your team is not proactively managing their technical debt, they may discover that it keeps piling up, much like when you shop without keeping track of your receipts and end up exceeding your budget.

If teams have access to an easily accessible counter that shows the amount of technical debt they have or a comprehensive list of all tickets and their corresponding priority levels, they are more prone to be conscious of the cost implications of acquiring additional debt for the project.

Stay a step ahead of possible issues by making your team aware of the hazards linked with technical debt, as well as any distinct risks that are particular to your debt.

Decrease Debt by Implementing Best Practices

Avoiding technical debt altogether can be challenging, but it is crucial to try. Implementing sound coding practices can assist in diminishing the likelihood of accumulating debt. To accomplish this, it is recommended to:

  • Utilize abstractions and avoid tight connections.
  • Ensure that your code coverage percentage is high.
  • Encourage code reviews and pull requests.
  • Keep refactoring until it is flawless.

Foster discussions within your team and offer chances for them to acquire insights from each other’s viewpoints. As mentioned earlier, an alternative perspective can frequently result in more efficient solutions.

View technical debt as a barometer of software development progress, rather than an insurmountable limitation. Prior to taking on any new commitments, teams must be motivated to diminish current technical debt.


Regardless of whether technical debt is a deliberate decision, it can still be regulated and leveraged as a development opportunity as long as the product manager and team are cognizant of the associated risks and consequences, and have a mechanism in place to monitor it.

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