Month: October 2011

Technical Debt

We need to start recording our technical debt, I think.

For example, if Identity Server was a packaged third party product we’d be okay but it’s actually quite rough demonstration code with only a small integration test harness. It should be brought up to the same standard as the rest of the code base (eventually). So it works but we have a fair amount of technical debt that we need to record.

Note that we can’t use stories for technical debt. The debt accrued from getting a story to ‘done’ and the points have already been earned.

Also, as we are developing, there will be times we add TODO/HACK into the code but the story still meets its acceptance tests. This extra work should be recorded as tasks in the backlog and then ordered. A rough estimate in hours added to each task will reveal our technical debt.

There will be times when we deliberately let the code quality slip, usually by choosing to ignore some of our metrics going into the red, in order to make a release available. That technical debt needs to be recorded, too.

How we pay down the technical debt is another matter. Preferably we wait until we are revisiting that piece of work and have a need to refactor. If we have so much cruft in a piece of code that adding a new feature is risky then that’s another time when the debt needs to be paid down. Otherwise, let it accrue, debt is a useful resource in the project budget.

Easy to say, harder to do. 🙂