“Technical debt is like a wolf in sheep’s clothing: it appears to be a low-cost solution, but it eventually comes back to bite you.”
Stephen Smith | CEO | Tollanis Solutions

In today’s digital age, organizations need to keep up with the rapid pace of technological advancements. As a result, businesses must constantly invest in developing and maintaining their digital infrastructure. However, if the process is not managed appropriately, organizations can quickly accumulate technical debt, resulting in costly delays and unexpected expenses.

Technical debt is the time, money, and resources invested in developing and maintaining an organization’s digital infrastructure. It is a concept introduced in 1992 by Ward Cunningham and has since become an essential part of project management.

In this blog, we will explore how to manage technical debt, and strategies for reducing it.

What are the real costs incurred by technical debt.

  1. Increased development costs: It can lead to increased costs related to software maintenance, development, and bug fixes.
  2. Lost productivity: This can cause a decrease in productivity, as the engineering team must invest time and effort into fixing the debt rather than developing new features.
  3. Increased complexity: It can add complexity to the codebase, making it more difficult to understand, modify, and maintain.
  4. Increased risk: This can introduce additional risks to the system, as the codebase is more vulnerable to security breaches and bugs.
  5. Reduced scalability: It can cause a decrease in scalability, as the system may not be able to handle an increased load.
  6. Loss of confidence: This can lead to a loss of confidence from stakeholders, as the system may not be reliable or perform as expected.

How to Manage Technical Debt

Managing technical debt requires a comprehensive approach. Organizations must first identify the problem areas and develop a plan to address them. This plan should include a timeline for addressing the debt, an assessment of the impact of the debt on the organization, and a strategy for reducing the debt.

Organizations should also set up a system to track the progress of the debt management plan. This system should include a dashboard for monitoring the progress, reports for assessing the impact of the debt, and a budget for addressing the debt. Once the plan is in place, organizations should regularly review it to ensure the debt is managed correctly.

Technical Debt Management Framework

Organizations should also develop a management framework. This framework should include a set of best practices for managing the debt and a plan for reducing the debt over time. The framework should consist of the following components:

  • An assessment of the current situation
  • A plan for addressing the debt
  • A set of goals and objectives
  • A budget for addressing the debt
  • A timeline for addressing the debt
  • A system for tracking the debt
  • Reports for assessing the impact of the debt

Strategies for Reducing Technical Debt in Agile Teams

  • Developing a culture of continual improvement: This strategy involves creating a workplace culture in which teams are regularly encouraged to find new ways to improve the quality of their code.

This step could involve setting targets and organizing education sessions on the importance of reducing debt. It also involves incentivizing team members to take the initiative in improving the codebase.

  • Identifying and addressing areas of technical debt: This strategy involves actively looking for areas within the codebase and taking steps to manage them.

This process could involve writing automated tests to identify areas of debt and then taking steps to refactor the code or implement new solutions to reduce the debt.

  • Establishing a system for tracking and monitoring debt: This strategy involves establishing a system for tracking and monitoring the amount of debt within the codebase.

This system could involve setting up automated tools to track the amount or implementing manual processes for tracking and monitoring the debt.

  • Defining and enforcing coding standards: This strategy involves setting out coding standards that all team members must adhere to and then ensuring that these standards are implemented on time.

This involves creating a style guide that all team members must refer to when writing code or implementing automated tools to enforce coding standards.

  • Automating processes and tests: This strategy involves implementing automated procedures and tests to reduce the debt. This involves setting up automated tests to check for areas of debt. In addition, using continuous integration tools ensures that all code is tested before deployment.
  • Implementing automated code reviews: This strategy involves setting up automated code reviews to identify areas of debt before they become a problem.

This includes setting up automated tools to review code for debt and regularly organizing manual code reviews to identify potential issues.

  • Encouraging team collaboration: This strategy involves creating an environment where different teams can share knowledge and work together to reduce the debt.

This includes setting up regular meetings between teams to discuss areas of debt or creating open forums where teams can ask questions and share solutions.

  • Optimizing code refactoring techniques: This strategy involves optimizing the process of code refactoring to reduce debt. This includes implementing automated tools to help with code refactoring or creating procedures for regularly reviewing and updating code.
  • Integrating technical debt into sprint planning: This strategy involves integrating technical debt into sprint planning. This includes setting targets during each sprint. In addition, it is helpful to create sprint planning processes that consider the amount of debt that needs to be addressed.
  • Establishing quality gates: This strategy involves setting up quality gates to ensure that only code that meets specific standards is deployed. Setting up automated tools to check for areas of debt before code is deployed or implementing manual processes to ensure quality.
  • Creating and maintaining a technical debt backlog: This strategy involves creating and maintaining a backlog of tasks that must be completed. This could include setting up a tracking system for debt tasks or regularly reviewing the backlog to ensure that all functions are addressed promptly.

Final Thoughts

Managing technical debt is integral to project management in the digital age. Organizations must develop a comprehensive approach to managing technical debt that includes a set of best practices, a plan for addressing the debt, and strategies for reducing the debt in agile teams.

By doing so, organizations can ensure that their digital infrastructure is managed correctly and remain competitive in a rapidly changing technological landscape.


Technical debt is a term used to describe the concept of making conscious trade-offs in the software development process by choosing to implement a less-than-ideal solution that may lead to increased maintenance and development costs in the future.

Technical debt can be caused by many factors, such as tight deadlines, insufficient resources, lack of technical expertise, changing requirements, or the use of outdated or poorly documented code.

Technical debt can be identified through code reviews, code analysis tools, automated testing, and feedback from users and stakeholders. Common signs of technical debt include code complexity, lack of modularity, poor documentation, and frequent bugs.

The consequences of technical debt can range from increased development and maintenance costs, longer time to market, decreased productivity, poor quality, and reduced customer satisfaction. In extreme cases, technical debt can lead to project failure.

Technical debt can be managed through various strategies, such as refactoring, automation, documentation, testing, and prioritization. It is important to prioritize technical debt based on its impact and urgency, and to allocate resources and time to address it.