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Reducing Technical Debt with Incident Management

Does technical debt spring to mind whenever you are talking about incident management? Maybe not, but it should probably factor into the conversation more often. In an article for DZone, Michael Churchman discusses the link, so that you can become more mindful of one more tool in the fight against debt.

Incidentally Indebted

Technical debt is what accumulates when gum-and-shoestring coding solutions are allowed to exist past what should have been their expiration dates. And while Churchman acknowledges that most software errors result from new or recently changed code, he believes that root causes of errors often connect back with old, debt-ridden code. He explains how this might occur:

Typically, there’s a problem that needs to be taken care of quickly, and speed matters more than taking care of the issue the right way. It may be an emergency bug fix, a change to accommodate an operating system update, new features added under a tight deadline, code from another source being patched in, or simply a quick workaround to accommodate previous technical debt. When the code is added, it’s cleaned up and debugged to the point where it doesn’t cause any errors, but it isn’t up to contemporary standards for design or coding. That’s why it’s technical debt and not just new code.

Any time that incident management warrants changes to source code, the opportunity should be taken to see what related technical debt exists and get rid of it. Or at the very least, the debt should be documented and scheduled for cleanup. In cases where technical debt is an immediate, pressing issue, teams might want to adopt a framework to handle it.

Toward that end, Churchman makes a few recommendations. These include mapping out known locations of technical debt in the source code, creating procedures for logging technical debt-centric issues, and building guidelines for deciding whether to clean up debt now or later. When you prepare in these ways, technical debt will start to lose its edge as a risk.

You can view the original article here: https://dzone.com/articles/reducing-technical-debt-with-incident-management

About John Friscia

John Friscia is the Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success. He began working for Computer Aid, Inc. in 2013 and continues to provide graphic design support for AITS. He graduated summa cum laude from Shippensburg University with a B.A. in English.

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