Application Rationalization

Five steps to strategically pay down technical debt

Minimize the impact technical debt can have on your bottom line with a plan to pay it down.

Digitization has created a new frontier for organizations. Current technologies have ushered in rapid transformation to streamline processes and improve business efficiency, like cloud migration and the implementation of intelligent automation. By and large, this has a positive effect on companies, but there can also be hidden consequences.

For some, the push to innovate and adopt new tools and systems came swiftly, and without the chance to weigh the costs. These quick-moving decisions can create unique business challenges, including the accrual of technical debt.

Technical debt results from making fast development or software implementation decisions, prioritizing speed and go-to-market competition over effectiveness. It can manifest from a variety of sources and impact an organization in multiple ways.

For instance, managing the risks associated with cloud migration is a complex endeavor. Without a comprehensive inventory and validation of existing applications and tools, it’s impossible to know where problems and expenses might exist. An application rationalization service can help by providing the inventory and action plan to assess costs and plan for a modernization journey.

Strategic payment of technical debt

Paying down technical debt is generally not as quick of a process when compared to its accrual, but with the right strategy and teams in place, it can be done. Future architecture, infrastructure plans, and business development goals must be factored into the overall approach to paying down technical debt. This not only makes the process more manageable, but it also highlights key areas that will directly contribute to organizational success in tackling debt head-on.

To effectively begin paying down technical debt, consider taking these five steps:

  1. Audit existing tools and systems, including the cost of software subscriptions, solution functionality, and APIs. Assess the organization’s IT asset lifecycle management process. This is where application rationalization adds value, by evaluating an organization’s IT asset lifecycle management process and zeroing in on the business impact of each tool.
  2. Identify quick wins and major issues first, then balance a long-term vision with an iterative approach. After audits and inventory, it’s easier to see the “low-hanging fruit” and redundancies within a tech stack.
  3. Create a roadmap and timeline with repayment terms and deadlines. This should include addressing the redundancies identified in steps one and two.
    • Define long and short-term goals.
    • Be data-driven and understand the defined goals in the context of a specific business.
  4. Engage with technical teams and communicate regularly. It is crucial to fully understand the extent of how tools are being used, how they interact with other solutions, and where development work or process efficiency is needed.
    • Ask tech teams what is and isn’t working.
    • Balance the needs of development with the needs of the business and be realistic about service level agreements (SLAs) and turnaround times.
    • Consider the overall costs of the projects. Keep in mind that technical teams are not the only resources that will be needed, and there may be unplanned additional costs from outages, increased issues, or longer turnaround times.
  5. Bake technical debt into the software development lifecycle (SDLC) and account for it in future processes and projects. This ensures full transparency as you move forward with other projects.

From these key concepts, a strategic approach to paying down technical debt can emerge. It does not mean an organization or agency will be immune to accumulating technical debt in the future, but when the important factors are considered from the beginning, it lessens the likelihood of unwieldy and unchecked debt impacting the bottom line.

Want to learn more about paying down your technical debt? Read the white paper Unlocking the secrets to managing technical debt.

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