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Tech Debt: What You Need to Know as a Business owner

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Technical debt is the cumulative cost of failing to keep your code sound and current. Technical debt is not necessarily a bad thing, particularly when it's used strategically to keep a project moving forward. However, with technical debt mounting and added pressure to get features launched that benefit your business, it becomes critical to understand how you can keep technical debt in check.

While tech debt is frequently thought of as a technical issue, it is something that all companies interested in software should think about. This is because maintaining and updating software is an ongoing task. Businesses will always be vulnerable to bugs and performance issues if they use software and websites.

It's like driving an old car: it'll get you from point A to point B, but if you don't get it serviced on a regular basis, it'll break down sooner. As a business owner, you must understand the concept of tech debt. After all, the software and web apps you use on a daily basis are at the heart of your company's operations and represent a substantial investment. In this post, we'll look at how to deal with tech debt and why it's so important for your company's future.

Why Tech Debt Matters

The concept of tech debt is frequently misunderstood, and the term itself can be misleading. It's easy to dismiss tech debt as a short-term issue, but once you understand how it works over time, you'll see that it's impossible to ignore.

When you make compromises during development to meet deadlines or meet other requirements, you're said to be in tech debt. This can include writing code that isn't reusable, deferring or ignoring testing, or making other technical decisions that aren't optimal.

The important thing to remember is that these decisions are compromises, which means there's usually a better way to go about things. The problem with tech debt is that things appear to be fine from the outside; the product works and is delivered on time. Your future self, on the other hand, will pay the price.

Your software will require more maintenance if you don't address tech debt during the development phase. This is due to the fact that badly written code must be rewritten (unless you want to live with all of its quirks forever).

The Relationship Between Tech Debt and Maintenance

It's a chicken-and-egg situation when it comes to tech debt and maintenance. Of course, all software requires maintenance, but code riddled with shortcuts will inevitably necessitate more than just new correctly written code. And the more time you spend maintaining your product, the less time you have to improve it. That's why it's critical to avoid tech debt from the start—if left unchecked, it can quickly spiral out of control.

We're not suggesting that you never take shortcuts in your development process, but we do recommend that you avoid them for your own sake. If spending more time up front saves you time in the long run, it's usually worth it. Keep in mind that writing clean code necessitates planning and forethought—you can't just do it on the spur of the moment, or things will quickly become messy.

As we've seen, choosing to write code in a quick and dirty manner leads to tech debt. The more shortcuts you take in the beginning, the shoddier the end result will be—and the more time and money it will take to keep the project running.

Even if your software is flawless, you'll need to collaborate with your developers on maintenance and updates. They'll be required to add new features, fix existing ones, and respond to technological or user behavior changes. Unfortunately, in the case of tech debt, this is where it will become increasingly obvious that you took coding shortcuts: instead of being able to make changes quickly and easily, you'll be constantly slowed down by problems caused by those shortcuts.

The relationship between tech debt and maintenance is simple: when you take shortcuts during development, your code becomes more difficult to update. This means that any time you need to make a change—whether it's to add a new feature or fix a bug—it'll cost you more than if you handled it correctly the first time.

Tech Debt and the Future of Your Business

You know as a business owner that debt isn't always bad. In fact, it may be the most important factor in getting your business off the ground. However, debt is rarely a good thing when it comes to technology, and if you don't manage it properly, it can cost you more money than you can afford. So, let's talk about what you need to know as a business owner in order to avoid future technical issues.

You might be wondering why your developers are so concerned about tech debt; after all, it often appears that they are being picky or perfectionist about something that will be irrelevant for a long time. But here's why it's important to pay attention: Tech debt is similar to a leaking roof: if you don't fix it right away, the damage will only get worse over time and become more expensive to repair.

What's the bottom line? To avoid accumulating technical debt, you must budget for ongoing maintenance. Most software developers are familiar with the term "tech debt" and are aware of the best practices for developing high-quality apps.

As a business owner, however, it is your responsibility to ask questions and stay informed about the overall health of your project. It's better to replace your car's brakes before they fail than to wait until they fail and cause a much more expensive accident. Due to the rapid pace of software development, all business owners will face this challenge, whether the app was built entirely from scratch or uses a variety of open-source code libraries.

It's easy for a company to constantly prioritize new features on the product roadmap. Still, it's worth talking to your developers about whether any routine maintenance updates should be prioritized in the coming year. Putting off those updates for too long will only increase the company's overall costs.

Worried about the tech debt you are already in? Want to avoid getting into tech debt with your new development project? Provisio can help. Let’s connect and get your project started the right way, to take your business further, faster.