Date: 19th Sep, 2022
At a time when business leaders are focused on strategies to overcome macro challenges like recession and inflation, technical debt is the last thing an enterprise wants to have to worry about. Unfortunately, though, the reality is that accumulated technical debt in the enterprise is a clear and present danger with rich potential to derail initiatives and cause damage.
The cost that an enterprise incurs due to outdated libraries, infrastructure silos, and outdated applications is called technical debt. For example, technical debt could occur when the server setups become obsolete, and the IT team has to deal with frequent system failures and unexpected downtime. It could happen when the team keeps adding network equipment to cater to point systems or fails to plan for how various enterprise assets will work together or indeed against each other.
According to Stripe’s report, technical debt could have a $3 trillion impact on global GDP. A multinational insurance company, for instance, stated that 15% to 60% of every dollar they spent on IT was toward addressing technical debt. And it’s not just about financial implications. Technical debt includes hidden costs, such as production delays, lack of employee productivity, poor employee experience, reputation damage, and even lawsuits due to downstream impact on customers, associates, and partners. Developers spend 23% to 42% of their development time on technical debt. In fact, a landmark study from a few years ago revealed that 70% of IT leaders were concerned that they were having to focus so much on managing everyday systems that they had no time to help the organization progress. Only 10% of them felt they were able to innovate to drive competitive advantage due to this preoccupation.
The longer an enterprise ignores these factors, the bigger the risks of accumulating technical debt. Enterprises can no longer ignore the perils of technical debt. They need to address it urgently.
Gartner’s research suggests that enterprises can ship 50% faster if they modernize the infrastructure and make attempts to reduce technical debt.
In this article, we will be specifically looking at how tech stack can lead to technical debt and how that can be resolved.
How Can Evolving Business Needs Lead To Technical Debt?
Enterprises constantly add more tech tools and stacks to keep pace with technological changes and build new digital solutions. They might organically update the existing tools and stacks or replace the ones that have become obsolete. Over time, the IT infrastructure becomes complex and imbalanced as more tools get added and replaced. Then, a lot of time is spent on maintaining and keeping them stable. The problem exacerbates when enterprises add a new point system to their existing tech stack. Older technologies are often incompatible with the new ones or require customizations to make them work together. Other factors, such as less flexibility in scaling the infrastructure and increased chances of security risks, complicate the problem further. Time pressure and the rush to launch these new systems often mean that compromises get made and corners get cut. The intent usually is to address these problems later but given that today’s enterprise IT backbone is a highly dynamic entity, many of these changes never get made. The IT team has an enormous task of making the tech stack work and simultaneously responding to market changes fast. That’s why adding more tools with old ones soon creates an accumulated backlog of technical debt.
How To Reduce Technical Debt?
Here are a few ways to reduce technical debt.
1. asure the technicaMel debt
To measure the technical debt, evaluate the existing infrastructure assets, identify the areas that affect the business operations, and hurt economics by increasing costs. It will enable the enterprise to prioritize the infrastructure elements that need urgent attention. A cost-benefit analysis will help the enterprise understand the full impact of the problem before it gets added to the technical debt. Gartner recommends using consistent categorizations and easy-to-understand metrics to enable the technical and business teams to monitor and measure the technical debt.
2. Identify what’s causing technical debt
Once the technical debt is measured, the team will understand how and from where the problem emanated. McKinsey, for instance, had built a Tech Debt Score (TDS) that enables the enterprise to quantify and compare their technical debt against their peers and identify the root cause of the problem. The multinational insurance company we mentioned earlier, realized that the technical debt increased because of some legacy systems. It became apparent that these systems supported a set of business units and they did not have a strong enough business case and could be replaced or removed. Knowing the cause of technical debt will enable the team to design a remediation or replacement plan.
3. Build strategies to reduce technical debt
Next comes the stage where the team builds strategies to reduce technical debt. It could include creating a continual modernization program to replace legacy systems before they become obsolete, scheduling infrastructure updates, and ensuring that they meet the IT infrastructure standards. Ensure that technical debt is made a priority at the IT leadership level. The strategy should align with the architectural and platform designs and enable the IT team to reduce technical debt across all applications and functions. Establish standards for IT infrastructure. For example, define standards for legacy systems, end-of-life servers, and storage systems to ensure they meet the technical standards and are identified and fixed before they incur technical debt.
4. Restructure the architecture
Enterprises can also restructure the architecture according to current technologies and capabilities to reduce technical debt. This is a stage where an expert partner who understands what it takes to ensure application performance, availability, and scalability in the context of the modern enterprise can be a game-changer. Such a partner can examine the infrastructure as well as the applications at a deeply granular level to identify potential bottlenecks and design improvements. For example, a data-centric enterprise might want to use a solution that helps them collect and analyze a lot of data in real-time. A monolithic architecture solution may not be able to collect and process data quickly. A lack of proper architecture could add to technical debt. Considered restructuring makes the architecture more flexible and enables enterprises to reduce their debt.
Audit technical debt
The IT team must monitor the infrastructure performance, track the metrics, categorize the results, and then make an informed decision on continuing with the strategy or taking further actions to decrease technical debt. Regular monitoring of the metrics over time will enable the IT team to assess the impact and implement similar strategies across the enterprise to reduce overall technical debt. Share the report with business and IT teams to help them understand the implications of complex and old infrastructure on the business and CAPEX, and the need for modernizing them.
Enterprises do need to keep using new additions to the technology stacks to build digital solutions and keep pace with the competition. Technical debt should not hinder their growth in these circumstances. The IT team must assess all the existing infrastructure assets and build scalable ones that are future-ready. Such transitions may not be easy and could lead to more complexities and technical debts.
That’s where partners like Avekshaa Technologies assist enterprises. Our P-A-S-S™ Optimization solution helps in preventing and resolving performance, availability, scalability, and security issues across the technology stacks. We conduct an optimization audit and identify the bottlenecks and potential opportunities to scale the system. We use our proprietary methodology to optimize the entire technology stack – operating system, hardware network, web servers, database servers, and other components and bring back the IT systems to normalcy. We also provide mid-term and long-term recommendations to help them build resilient, future-ready infrastructure with improved performance and less technical debt.
To know more about our optimization solution, contact us.