Agile, Project Management

How to Put Your #TechnicalDebt Budget on a Diet #Agile #DevNexus @DevNexus

As an application development manager, I spend a good deal of my day thinking about technical debt. Some people think the concept of “technical debt” didn’t exist in Waterfall projects, but it’s really been around since the beginning of code — the difference is back when, we weren’t doing it on purpose. Now we’ve always seen some debate, going way back, with folks arguing messy code can’t count as debt; however, just like a financial debt, whether you applied for a loan or got hit with a big speeding ticket, you still have to pay it (often out of finite funds).

As part of our Agile journey, my teams are currently learning new ways to address technical debt. It won’t do a bit of good to clean up the current debt if you don’t also put your debt on a diet to reduce the rate of accumulation of new debt. That’s like taking out a new credit card to balance transfer and pay off another card… and then maxing out that card again!

Technical debt, having become my main focus recently, is what I’ve been invited to speak about at the DevNexus 2017 conference in Atlanta February 22-24. I spoke at this conference in 2015 and I’m so happy to be coming back. I will still talk a bit about my passions, Agile and User Experience, but the main focus this year will be on the technical, and often political, side of Agile.

Many Agile teams have a hard time managing technical debt. Like foundational stories, technical debt stories often get pushed to the bottom of a product owner’s priority list. It seems like we fight a constant battle between dealing with our mess and wanting to deliver the sexy new feature. Some of the items I’ll cover include:

  • What technical debt is (and what it isn’t)
  • Good and bad sources of technical debt
  • Techniques to reduce the production of more debt
  • Creating a debt reduction value proposition for product owners and customers
  • In-sprint options for dealing with debt (and foundational stories)

The conference sold out last month, so it’s too lake to get tickets. However, as part of the overall presentation, I’ll add some content on technical debt here. If anyone would like a specific question answered, please feel free to contact me.

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