Best Practice Report

Don't Let A Mountain Of "Technical Debt" Derail Mobile And Customer-Facing App Delivery

Lead The Investment Case With Business Issues, Not Technical Debt

October 28th, 2014
Phil Murphy, null
Phil Murphy
With contributors:
Christopher Mines , Kurt Bittner , Eric Wheeler


The ever-increasing demand from business leaders for modern mobile and customer-facing apps has application development and delivery (AD&D) leaders embracing Agile and DevOps techniques to keep pace. But today's application portfolios house decades' worth of treasure and trash in a complex patchwork of applications and technology. Maintaining them — running the business as usual — typically consumes 70% or more of the technology budget, constraining new development efforts. In the hopes of getting business leaders to focus funding on the problem, Agile practitioners have adopted the term "technical debt" to represent the cost of refactoring individual applications and/or rationalizing entire application portfolios to bring spending on business as usual and new applications into more reasonable balance. The theory is that presenting business leaders with a shockingly large technical debt number will do the trick. It's a well-intentioned but flawed approach that needs a total rethink. This report replaces an earlier report on technical debt and helps technology management professionals understand the issues with using the phrase and to reframe the issue in terms of business benefit and enabling the BT agenda.

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