According to statistics, over five years, costs due to technical debt for one million lines of code can reach $1.5 million (equivalent to 27,500 developer hours). On top of this, technical debt issues become increasingly complex and burdensome when left unaddressed, impacting overall software quality.

In this blog post, we'll look at what technical debt is, how it occurs, and technical debt best practices.

What Is Technical Debt?

The technical debt concept describes the phenomenon where developers choose a simpler or faster solution over a better, longer-term one.

It metaphorically means the cost of future changes or rework associated with incorrect or poor decisions made during the development of a software product. This is an analogy to financial debt: when you take out a loan with favorable terms for a short period, but in the end you have to pay back much more money due to accumulated interest.

How Can Technical Debt Arise?

Technical debt arises when software development teams take shortcuts or make trade-offs that favor immediate progress over long-term stability, maintainability, or scalability. These shortcuts often result in suboptimal code or design choices that need to be addressed later, similar to financial debt that must be paid back with interest.

Common Causes of Technical Debt
Pressure to Meet Deadlines Development teams often face tight deadlines, leading them to cut corners and implement quick fixes rather than well-thought-out solutions. This approach can lead to code that works in the short term but is difficult to maintain or extend.
Insufficient Planning and Design Skimping on initial design and planning phases can result in a poor architecture that doesn’t scale well or accommodate future requirements. Lack of proper documentation and design patterns can also contribute to technical debt.
Lack of Code Refactoring As software evolves, parts of the codebase may become outdated or inefficient. If regular refactoring is neglected, these parts can become sources of bugs and performance issues, increasing technical debt.
Incomplete Testing Skipping or inadequately performing testing to save time can lead to bugs and issues that are harder to diagnose and fix later. Automated tests, unit tests, and integration tests are crucial for maintaining code quality and catching issues early.
Outdated Technologies and Practices Relying on outdated libraries, frameworks, or tools can accumulate technical debt. Over time, it becomes harder to update or replace these components without significant effort.
Poor Documentation Lack of comprehensive documentation makes it difficult for new developers to understand the codebase, leading to mistakes and further degradation of code quality over time.
Frequent Requirement Changes Rapid changes in requirements can lead to code that is continuously patched rather than properly integrated. This results in a fragmented and inconsistent codebase that is harder to manage.

Concerning these reasons, you can apply different approaches to managing tech debt.

Types of Technical Debt

Technical debt can be categorized into two types:

  1. Intentional Technical Debt: Also known as deliberate or active debt, this occurs when the team consciously postpones resolving certain issues to achieve a specific goal, such as releasing an update more quickly.
  2. Unintentional Technical Debt: Also referred to as accidental, outdated, or passive debt, this arises when the team unknowingly performs subpar work, accumulating issues over time without realizing it.

The impact of technical debt on your project depends on the way of managing tech debt. Just as borrowing money can help you achieve goals sooner, taking coding shortcuts can initially provide the necessary time and resources to address more urgent software development tasks. However, tech debt management is crucial to avoid long-term negative consequences.

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Intentional Technical Debt Strategy

Intentional technical debt is a strategic approach where a development team deliberately takes shortcuts or defers certain improvements to achieve immediate objectives. This strategy is employed with a clear understanding of the trade-offs involved and typically includes a plan to address the debt in the future.

Benefits of Intentional Technical Debt
Faster Time-to-Market By temporarily bypassing certain best practices or deferring some non-critical enhancements, businesses can accelerate product releases. This can be crucial for gaining a competitive edge, capturing market share, or responding to urgent customer needs.
Resource Optimization Intentional technical debt allows teams to focus their efforts on the most critical aspects of a project, optimizing the use of available resources. This can be particularly valuable in startups or projects with limited budgets and tight deadlines.
Higher Flexibility Adopting a flexible approach to technical debt enables businesses to adapt quickly to changing requirements, market conditions, or emerging opportunities.
Incomplete Testing Skipping or inadequately performing testing to save time can lead to bugs and issues that are harder to diagnose and fix later. Automated tests, unit tests, and integration tests are crucial for maintaining code quality and catching issues early.
Improved Stakeholder Satisfaction Meeting critical deadlines or delivering key features promptly can enhance stakeholder satisfaction, whether they are customers, investors, or internal stakeholders.
Focused Innovation By strategically choosing where to incur technical debt, teams can allocate more time and resources to innovative features or new technologies that drive business growth.

Checklist for an Effective Intentional Technical Debt Strategy

  1. Define the specific goals that necessitate taking on technical debt, such as meeting a critical deadline, launching a product to market faster, or prioritizing feature development over code quality in the short term.
  2. Evaluate the potential impact of the technical debt on future development, maintenance, and scalability. Identify which areas of the codebase or system can tolerate the shortcuts without causing significant issues.
  3. Thoroughly document the decisions made, including the reasons for taking on the debt, the areas affected, and the potential consequences. This documentation ensures that future teams understand the context and rationale behind the choices.
  4. Develop a roadmap for addressing the technical debt, including specific tasks, timelines, and resource allocation. This plan should be integrated into the overall project timeline to ensure that debt repayment is not indefinitely postponed.
  5. Regularly assess the state of the technical debt and its impact on the project. Use metrics and feedback loops to monitor how the debt affects performance, quality, and team productivity.

These technical debt best practices presented in a checklist will help you control and manage your efforts in faster product development and release, as well as intentional technical debt strategy,

How To Manage Technical Debt

Technical debt in software development is viewed differently by developers and businesses. Developers see it as a crucial part of their work that requires dedicated time and effort. However, businesses often ignore the issue of how to handle technical debt. They perceive it as an inefficient use of resources. Consequently, managing technical debt in an organized and consistent way is a tricky task.

If the tech debt exists, its complete elimination is almost impossible. However, you can apply technical debt reduction strategies.

Technical debt reduction strategies are crucial for maintaining a healthy, efficient, and scalable software development process. By proactively addressing technical debt, teams can improve code quality, reduce the risk of bugs, and enhance system performance.

We’ve prepared technical debt best practices so that you can eliminate the negative consequences of unintentional technical debt:

1. Initiate Code Reviews and Peer Programming

Implement regular code reviews and pair programming sessions. These practices ensure that code quality is maintained and potential issues are caught early by multiple sets of eyes. They also foster a culture of knowledge sharing and adherence to best practices.

2. Automate Testing

Establish a robust automated testing framework, including unit tests, integration tests, and end-to-end tests. Automated tests help catch bugs and regressions early, reducing the likelihood of accumulating technical debt. Make testing an integral part of the development process.

3. Conduct Refactoring

Schedule regular refactoring sessions to clean up and improve existing code for technical debt management. Refactoring helps eliminate inefficient or outdated code and enhances the overall structure and readability of the codebase. Prioritize refactoring tasks based on areas that are frequently modified or prone to issues.

4. Maintain Comprehensive Documentation

Maintain thorough and up-to-date documentation for the codebase. This way of managing tech debt helps new team members understand the system more quickly and reduces the risk of introducing unintentional technical debt. Document code design, architecture, APIs, and any known issues or limitations.

5. Ensure Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment (CI/CD)

Implement CI/CD pipelines to automate the building, testing, and deployment of code. CI/CD practices ensure that code changes are continuously tested and integrated, reducing the risk of technical debt accumulating from untested or improperly integrated code.

6. Establish Technical Debt Backlog

Create a technical debt backlog to track and prioritize known issues. For efficient technical debt management, regularly review and update this backlog, integrating technical debt tasks into the overall project planning and sprint cycles. Treat technical debt items with the same importance as new features or bug fixes.

7. Ensure Training and Skill Development

How to handle technical debt in your team’s perception? Invest in ongoing training and professional development for the development team. Encourage attendance at workshops, conferences, and online courses to keep up with the latest industry standards, tools, and best practices. A well-informed team is less likely to introduce unintentional technical debt.

8. Monitor Quality Metrics

Implement tools and processes to measure code quality and monitor technical debt. Use metrics such as code complexity, code coverage, and defect density to assess the health of the codebase. Regularly review these metrics to identify areas that need improvement.

9. Foster a Culture of Quality

Promote a culture where code quality is valued and prioritized. Encourage developers to take ownership of their code and strive for excellence. Recognize and reward efforts to reduce technical debt and improve code quality.

10. Manage Feedback Loops

Establish feedback loops with stakeholders, including developers, testers, and end-users. Collect feedback on the system's performance, usability, and maintainability. Use this feedback to identify and address areas of unintentional technical debt.


Dealing with technical debt is a systematic long game. It is designed to prevent development teams from losing productivity over time. How to manage technical debt? As you can see, effective tech debt management requires regular code reviews, automated testing, and a proactive approach to refactoring and documentation.

Businesses must recognize that support costs will rise as the system evolves, and the greater the technical debt, the more challenging and expensive it will be to develop new features and fix existing issues. Effective tech debt management requires planning, clear regulations, and a shared understanding among all stakeholders.

Contact us if you have any questions or need a detailed consultation on your project!

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