Alvin Nguyen, Senior Analyst, Akshara Naik Lopez, Senior Analyst, Bill Martorelli, Principal Analyst, Manuel Geitz, Principal Analyst, and Tracy Woo, Senior Analyst


In the race to upgrade your tech stack and drive innovation through emerging tech, there’s a growing risk of creating more technical debt. In this episode, five analysts — all presenters at the upcoming Technology & Innovation North America forum — provide unique perspectives and strategies on what causes technical debt and how to avoid or reduce it.

The episode starts with Senior Analyst Alvin Nguyen discussing the risk of taking an overly narrow view of technical debt in a traditional, siloed IT organization. For example, he points out that technical debt can impact areas as broad as personnel, operating models, reputation, and security. “If you’re making a decision based on limited information, sometimes you get lucky, but it’s better to be prepared and look at things comprehensively,” he says.

Nguyen provides a preview of a new framework for reducing tech debt that he’ll walk through in detail in his session at the event. The framework provides the inputs technology leaders need to determine the right next steps in reducing tech debt. Nguyen even provides actual examples of how Forrester clients have used the framework.

Next, Principal Analyst Bill Martorelli and Senior Analyst Akshara Naik Lopez preview their session by discussing how sourcing and contracting practices can impact technical debt. “We think that through sourcing practices, … significant impact on technical debt can either be prevented or accidentally encouraged,” says Martorelli. Naik Lopez then provides some new approaches to contracting that can help avoid tech debt. For example, she says focusing RFPs and contracts on defined KPIs and outcomes instead of the usual technology requirements and delivery milestones can be a good first step.

Senior Analyst Tracy Woo says cloud migration and other technology upgrade projects can bring significant technical debt risk by making subsets of code irrelevant. Woo will present a session with Principal Analyst Manuel Geitz on best practices for upgrading tech stacks without incurring more debt. “Our solution is to focus everything on value,” says Geitz. “What’s the kind of value you want to deliver … and that will define the type of technology that is either delivering value or holding back value.”