James Hammond

Principal Software Engineer

James is a technologist with over 20 years experience delivering solutions primarily in the Microsoft stack. He has a particular interest in XP programming techniques and message-based event driven architectures.

Technical debt is work required by, or “owed to,” your codebase, often to overcome shortcuts made to deliver a temporary solution quickly or where there had been an imperfect understanding of the matter the solution addressed. 

Alternatively, technical debt may be due to inadequate testing procedures or outdated technology having been employed when the code was written, or to late changes in the requirements that could not be addressed before the solution was delivered.

Accrued technical debt can adversely affect your code’s quality and performance, and make it difficult, time-consuming, or risky to change.

Tackling technical debt

A prerequisite to tackling tech debt is to ensure the resulting issues are understood and visible via the project board or risk register, to enable remedial work to be scoped and planned, and prevent it being forgotten or ignored.

Then it may be possible to dedicate an occasional Sprint to addressing tech debt, and to activities that prevent further debt being accrued.

However, the need to continue delivering new functionality will often limit the resource that can be dedicated to addressing tech debt, so a balance needs to be found where higher impact tech debt issues are prioritised while some low impact issues may, realistically, never be addressed.

How Headforwards can help

Headforwards can provide a multi-skilled and collaborative team to help you assess and tackle your technical debt, and therefore reduce its risk.

It may be that your code needs an update for compliance purposes. Our team can work with you to review the code against changing requirements and draw up a plan to help you achieve, and be able to demonstrate, compliance. 

We can evaluate the scope and quality of your unit tests and help your developers improve them. Increased integration test automation can be implemented to replace arduous and repetitive manual testing wherever possible, thus speeding up your release cycle so you can deliver value to users quickly without building further tech debt. Improving the testability of the code will in turn make it easier to maintain and update, thus reducing the technical debt risk.

If your releases take excessive time and resources, and are disruptive to end users, we can help improve your delivery processes and daily metrics, to ensure you have a CI/CD pipeline capable of delivering code changes effectively and frequently where required, and with minimal downtime.

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