TL;DR – Technical debt is inescapable, but there are things you can do to lessen its effects.
No matter how advanced or bleeding-edge your development organization is, at some point it will run into the haunting specter of technical debt. [shudder]
At that point, what are you to do? Or, before it happens, what can you do to try to make remediation as easy, low-cost and quick as possible?
This was the topic that some of tech’s top companies discussed in the SXSW panel “Codeasaurus: Keeping an Edge With Old Tech.” You can see details of that conversation below, along with panelist information.
Key takeaways from the panel
- Technical debt is cost of doing business when you continue to iterate.
- It becomes a problem when it puts up blockers for moving forward.
- Technical debt is largely invisible to the end user.
- You can’t plan your way out of technical debt.
- Just because its old code doesn’t mean it’s bad code.
- Technical debt goes beyond code. There’s testing technical debt and there’s knowledge technical debt.
- If you don’t have technical debt, you probably don’t have a functional product.
- You can overcome knowledge gap when people leave with communication, education, documentation and testing.
- When you need to move with speed, the first thing to go is documentation. The second thing is testing.
- Every jump in the size of the code base and the size of the company mandates process change.
- All the investments in paying down tech debt is keeping disaster from happening.
- Engineers don’t want to work for companies that have massive technical debt.
- Tim Correa: SVP and GM Trulia
- Jason Fennell: SVP Engineering Yelp
- Samantha Stoller: Sr. Staff Engineer Slack
- Moderator Ron Miller: Reporter TechCrunch