Bankrolling Technical Debt: A Financierís Guide
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User Rank: Apprentice
8/5/2014 | 9:37:11 AM
We agree and disagree
I received many comments on this article in Linked In, which unfortunately didn't make it onto here. Thanks, Greg and Ivy for yours. I completely agree that a bailout looms. Pundits speak of Y2K as the last time we really cleaned out our IT closets. From an engineering standpoint we're due for another major cleanup. It's been 15 years, afterall.

There seems to be broad agreement on this point in the comments I've seen. Not just in 15-yo systems, but new cloud-native startups that have been gunning for their MVP releases for a couple years.

But, this is where differences seems to come into view. Some believe that incomplete functionality should count as technical debt. Some believe that technical debt should not exist at all in systems that are still in active development. In my opinion, technical debt is not functional backlog. And, it's precipitous to impose limits on new technical debt that are too hard to achieve. Many engineers among my own colleagues feel that no new technical debt should ever be added. I believe not all technical debt is the same - some types of debt should be avoided at all costs. As for the rest, it's okay to add some new debt at times as long as it's being measured and actively managed over the mid/long term. This is evident in "Lean Startup" types of environments, as well as legacy-IT shops.
User Rank: Author
7/31/2014 | 10:06:35 AM
Re: It's time for a bailout!
I am surprised that no one on Wall Street has created derivatives on technical debt. This would give companies, not just in financial services, the ability to hedge their technical debt or bet on someone's misfortunes.  This could be a way to avoid a bailout in the future. It's like airlines hedging the price of oil or farmers hedging against the rise and fall of crop prices.

On the other hand, most companies would not want to reveal they had techncial debt since it would damage their reputation and create the sense that their software/systems could fail. Yet everyone has some. How would technical debt be valued in the outside market?
Greg MacSweeney
Greg MacSweeney,
User Rank: Author
7/31/2014 | 9:30:03 AM
It's time for a bailout!
Wow, if technical debt was calculateed as you describe, I think a number of banks would need to receive a bailout, since the amount of bad code they have accumulated over the years is tremendous!!

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