When you shove things higgledy-piggledy into your desk drawer, just to clear space in your workspace, you have a quick solution. You also have a dirty solution, because trying to find the key to your filing cabinet will take you ages afterwards, unless you’re prepared to empty out your drawer onto your workspace – and start all over again. Yes, you’ve just experienced technical debt, first hand!
The same thing happens in IT, when quick and dirty solutions are adopted (sometimes out of necessity), leading to extra work to be done afterwards. The additional effort is bad enough, but do you know what this might be doing to your IT risk management?
Quick and dirty solutions in IT can be found in system and application development, patching and upgrades, IT sourcing, and much more. To get a new program out in a hurry, developers may accept bloated code.
To fix a glaring security hole, IT operations may quickly patch a system without examining or testing for the effects on other systems connected to it.
PCs bought in a hurry to replace those damaged in a flood may not have quite the specifications they should, but if it’s a choice between waiting for the right models or getting people back to work, maybe you’ll choose to live with what you can install right now.
Paying off such technical debt is a way of reducing IT risk. Refactoring code can reduce a code base substantially. Less code means less to go wrong.
Testing a patch after the fact may seem back to front, but it’s better than crossing your fingers and hoping for the best. PCs that hamper productivity may be corrected through upgrades – or simply through replacement, often the cheapest option.
Your IT risk management improves. Fewer problems will then surface as applications are delivered into production, and what the business expects from IT is more likely to be what it will get. As in financial debt, technical debt is a risk to be calculated and paid down to an acceptable level rapidly thereafter.