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Technical Debt: Guide for How to Reduce and Manage It

Technical debt is something no one wants to fall into. But once you are bound to it, you may come across the logical question: how do you reduce technical debt?

Are there any proven steps on how you can do it quicker and more effectively? Yes, there are! And in this article, we are going to explain to you how to reduce and manage technical debt step-by-step.

What Is Technical Debt?

We all are familiar with the concept of financial debt and how overwhelming it may be to cope with it. Debt arises when we have an immediate need for something but lack the funds to pay for it at the moment. As a result, we frequently resort to a less-than-ideal method of payment, such as a loan or credit card, resulting in debt.

The concept of technical debt is quite similar. Technical debt is the outcome of making poor coding or programming decisions to speed up or simplify the process of bringing a software or service into production. This can result in a payment with time, money, or resources.

The following are the main causes of technical debt:

  • Technological considerations by business managers
  • Market pressure 
  • Lack of understanding or information about future business objectives
  • Inadequate testing
  • Refactoring put on hold
  • Talent shortages and skill gaps
  • Bad source code/complexity of source code
  • Poor or insufficient documentation
  • Incompetent developers working on a project

Let’s imagine you want to outwork your competition by adding some trendy app features before they do. The release deadline is looming, and your users expect the new features right now. That’s when you can get into software technical debt by rushing and delivering a functionality with flaws, resulting in overpaying developers for rework.

Technical debt is unavoidable in practically any software environment. Nevertheless, like in the case of financial debt, you have to learn how to reduce technical debt before it accumulates and becomes a burden for you. Statistics say that by 2023, I&O executives that vigorously minimize technical charges will be able to offer their releases at least 50% quicker.

Picture 1. What is technical debt.

How to Manage Technical Debt Properly

An experiment-based approach to software development may absolutely justify the technical debt. Here are some actionable practices that development teams may use to reduce technical debt.

1. Do discovery testing

Pair programming and TDD are fantastic, practical debt-reduction methods. But there is also some upfront activity (which you do before ever writing a piece of code) that may help you decrease the probability of technical debt. We’re talking about discovery testing.

Businesses may guarantee that development work is prioritized by thoroughly knowing the important demands of a client by creating discovery tests using human insight software. The possibility for reducing tech debt is evident, from needs identification to idea validation. And it all starts with allowing your customers to prioritize your roadmap on your behalf.

Picture 2. Discovery testing.

2. Keep a record of it

Understanding the type and scale of your debt helps you prioritize which portions to tackle first, which is crucial in decision-making. You must have a thorough grasp of your software technical debt in order to manage it.

Determine whether the majority of the cost is due to system infrastructure or maintenance. You should also reevaluate your system’s requirement for innovation. Appropriate measurements can help you address your problem in this situation. These figures are available through a variety of internet sources.

There are also certain tools that can help you track such technical debt. To document all the information and sort things out, many teams utilize wiki pages, Trello boards, or Microsoft Excel. This type of documentation is useful for bringing the problem to the attention of all teams. Backlogs in project management software, such as Jira, Hansoft, and Excel, are the most widely utilized across all organizations.

3. Move to the practical part of reducing the technical debt

When you raise awareness of your technical debt details and know what your weak spots are, it’s time to start actually fixing them. According to McKinsey, organizations who are proactive with tech debt management are able to lower their TD from 75% to 25%.

The following are some of the practical things you can do to get yourself out of software technical debt:

  • Work with experts. The best way is to entrust your technological approach to the real professionals who have a good understanding and experience on this subject. All parties should have a common knowledge of the situation, including both the commercial and technical consequences of debt.
  • Upgrade the product regularly. The development team must also manage this issue by upgrading the product to comply with the most recent standards.
  • Fix the bugs. Bugs in software typically have a cascading impact throughout the business. By bringing them to light immediately, you may prevent the building of technical debt.
  • Test carefully. Before deploying the new patches to production, make sure your QA engineers test them to help detect any flaws. To release a safe product, they must be reported to a prior sprint.
  • Minimize debt in every sprint: you must minimize technical debt incrementally with each sprint, thereby reducing the accumulated burden.

Picture 3. Technical dept reducing.

4. Set a strict time frame and activities

Since paying off technical debt requires consistency in time, money, and effort, strict planning in this case is a must. Because there are no one-size-fits-all measures for tracking or measuring the debt, you can try making a to-do list. Schedule hours specifically for dealing with it. It will also help you in the formalization of the decision-making process on how and when to deal with technical debt activities.


Software technical debt is one of the most unwanted aspects of the development process for any business owner. Its influence on the project fate is determined by how you handle it. However, usually it comes at a high price, and it has the potential to harm your product in the most unexpected ways. The sooner you begin to mitigate the negative effects of tech debt, the sooner you will catch up with the market, your competitors, and resources.

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