During standup last week my team started a dialog around surfacing and managing technical debt on our project.
As I thought about how I could contribute to the dialog, I realized that I didn’t have much beyond what the term technical debt itself evokes for others and for me.
Luckily for us, Steve McConnell has written a detailed post that unpacks the meaning of technical debt.
The highlight for me was his concept of Unfocused Short-Term Debt. Steve McConnell is talking about the debt that:
accumulates from taking hundreds or thousands of small shortcuts — generic variable names, sparse comments, creating one class in a case where you should create two, not following coding conventions, and so on. This kind of debt is like credit card debt. It’s easy to incur unintentionally, it adds up faster than you think, and it’s harder to track and manage after it has been incurred.
This kind of debt is commonly incurred in response to the directive to “Get it out the door as quickly as possible.” It doesn’t pay off even in the short term of an initial development cycle and should be avoided.
Right on Steve!