Assessing your technical debt

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The Wall Street Journal estimates that the value of “Technical Debt” in the US currently stands at around $1.52T.  Technical debt is the future cost of fixing issues later that could have been fixed or avoided earlier by choosing a comprehensive solution instead of an easy or cheap but limited solution.

Like how unpaid monetary debt accumulates interests, technical debt becomes more expensive over time as the situation aggravates.  Do you have technical debt?  Likely, the answer is yes.  At least some.  It is rarely possible, or cost effective, or even good business practice, to always choose the absolute best solution for any problem without regard for any other immediate considerations.  For example, an instance of technical debt may have helped fund an investment opportunity at the time.  But over time, some of the technical debt may become unbearable.  Then, it needs to be addressed.

Addressing and correcting technical debt can be challenging.  Just like it is recommended that monetary debt should been paid off in the portions with the highest interest rates first, so should efforts to correct technical debt generally consider the costliest areas first.  But how can the technical debt be assessed?  Here are some steps:

1.        Instances of technical debt must be identified and recognized.

2.        Cost values of each instance, both current and ongoing, must be evaluated.

3.        Costs of correcting instances of technical debt must be determined.

4.        Corrective work should be prioritized based the various costs, including costs of opportunity, and returns.

5.        Give the go-ahead decision.

Four Cornerstone is well suited to help with many of these steps.  By providing an independent and impartial viewpoint, and by utilizing the wide breadth of technical expertise available to us, we can assess an environment for any technical debt and create corrective plans that include detailed cost estimates.  Since we also provide implementation services, our cost estimates are typically very accurate as these are generated based on prior experience.  Using our findings, our customers are enabled to make well informed decisions on which areas of technical debt should be addressed.

If you are beset with technical debt or would like an assessment of the technical debt that has been accumulating, please reach out to us and we will be happy to help.

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