For better or worse, many businesses tend to make decisions that optimize short-term results. All too often, this shortsighted focus complicates business systems and creates liabilities in the future. Compounding the issue is that many stakeholders are to address the problem for fear of creating bigger, worse technical challenges.
Fear can be powerful motivation. But leading with a sense of dread and making decisions fearfully isn’t a good strategy. Typically, the best way to address our fears is by facing them. Unsolved problems get worse and worse over time, eventually leading to a network or application that is near impossible to support. This post will detail why solving technical debt not only should not be scary but rather should be considered a valuable investment.
What is Technical Debt?
Technical debt typically refers to the deficiencies in your infrastructure that accrue as you choose to deploy code and design applications. While accepting some level of deficiency in an application can be less expensive and solve immediate needs, it can leave you stuck further down the road.
Ultimately, technical debt results from prioritizing speed over proper design and planning. The “debt” analogy is meant to capture the fact that there are real costs associated with this decision – just like there are real costs associated with taking out a loan. These costs can include time spent fixing problems that wouldn’t have existed, as well as the opportunity cost of not being able to work on new features because all your developers are busy fixing old bugs.
For more details, read this article where we cover technical debt more in-depth:
Don’t Hit a Debt End
When it comes to hardware, technical debt is very prominent. We know that this time of year is when 40-50% of hardware deals close ahead of the new year. Interestingly, many of these organizations renew traditional on-premise hardware despite understanding the value of cloud solutions. Some of these orgs also renew out of habit. Due to this recurring pattern, businesses delay potential cloud or hybrid migration. This unfortunately creates a negative feedback loop that incurs even more technical debt.
In the end, technical debt doesn’t just hurt your business, but your staff as well. Technical debt can keep you from realizing the full potential of your employees as they’re too busy managing outdated systems. Perhaps the most considerable expense of technical debt is the facilities you maintain. This can include everything from facilities management to cybersecurity, and physical security, as well as power, cooling, and more. These costs can accumulate quickly, drowning your organization in technical debt.
We say this all while knowing that sometimes allowing technical debt to accrue is a necessary evil. We know that a more rapid approach can initially be less expensive and solve immediate needs. However, as your systems grow increasingly outdated, so too does the cost to modernize, as well as other potential risks to your business.
The ROI of Solving Technical Debt
The biggest myth about solving technical debt is the lack of return on investment. There are many benefits to solving technical debt, and perhaps the most obvious is that it saves money in the long run. By taking the time to do things right now, you can avoid costly repairs or even entire replacements down the road. In addition, solving technical debt opens up flexibility to explore new features and innovations, rather than being bogged down by old systems.
It doesn’t always have to be a dramatic shift though. One of the benefits of a hybrid cloud is its ability to move portions into the cloud and retain some on-premise infrastructure. This gradual migration can lessen the burden while experiencing the benefits of a cloud solution.
Why You Should Solve Tech Debt Now, Not Later
The long-term savings and increased productivity that come from solving technical debt more than make up for the costs. Therefore, if you’re facing a decision about whether or not to solve your technical debt, don’t be afraid – it’s likely worth it for your business in the end. Here are some reasons why:
- As businesses increasingly rely on technology, the cost of technical debt can add up quickly. This is because businesses are forced to implement tools that work with the underlying infrastructure, even if it’s not the best decision. In fact, a recent study by McKinsey talks about how one bank generated over $2 billion in tech-debt costs across 1,000 systems and applications.
- Technical debt restricts or slows down your organization’s ability to grow. If your developers are busy spending time fixing old code, they can’t work on new features or projects that could help your business expand.
- It can make your business less agile. As your codebase becomes more complicated, it takes longer to make changes and deploy new features. This can make it difficult to respond quickly to market demands or take advantage of new opportunities.
While technical debt can seem daunting, it’s important to remember that addressing it is an investment that can pay off in the long run. By taking the time to fix underlying problems now, you can avoid greater costs down the road and position your business for future success.
How to Tackle Technical Debt
If you’re ready to address your technical debt, there are a few things you can do to get started.
- First, take inventory of your technical debt. This will help you prioritize which areas to focus on first. When prioritizing, it’s helpful to rank each project by difficulty level and estimate the cost to each.
- Next, develop a plan for addressing the debt. This may include refactoring code, upgrading infrastructure, or inviting a third-party partner as additional resources. For every one of these projects, it’s also important to loop business managers into the conversation to forecast how this will impact other departments and address them accordingly.
- Implement the plan and track your progress. This will help you ensure that you’re making headway and allows you to adjust your plan as needed. Make sure to include KPIs for measuring success.
- Finally, set best practices to prevent additional technical debt. The most effective and critical solution to technical debt is through regulations that limit the debt that accrues. Create a guideline for your developers to restrict technical debt and rules for business managers to follow when buying more tools.
Don’t Be Afraid of Your Technical Debt Shadow
Technical debt doesn’t have to be scary. If you’re struggling with a large amount of technical debt, it may be time to seek out professional help. There are plenty of companies that specialize in modernization and can assist you in making the necessary changes. Among such, Connectria has been recognized as a top AWS partner with a specialty in hybrid cloud initiatives. When deciding whether or not to tackle technical debt, below are a few key factors to consider:
- The cost of fixing the debt vs. the cost of carrying it
- The impact of the debt on your business
- The resources required to fix the debt
- The likelihood that the debt will be able to be fixed
As we approach the new year, if you are presently in a position to renew traditional hardware, it may be worthwhile to speak with one of our experts below for guidance.