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Frank Oelschlager Shares a Technical Debt Case Study

Gábor Zöld of Coding Sans has written an excellent piece on technical debt:

Technical Debt: Everything You Need To Know, And How To Manage It

In it, Frank recounts a particularly harrowing case of how the accretion of short cuts and outmoded practices shut productivity down.

“[The organization] had a fairly monolithic application based on older versions of their chosen platforms (Python, PHP, and Java). To make matters worse, almost everything was hard-coded, including specific customer customizations that were built into the code. There was literally source code that evaluated “if” statements for hard-coded customer names of the logged-in user, and it did different things based on the result.”

Frank describes an incremental solution for tackling the technical debt and, more importantly, getting “the people who had been fighting with each other aligned to a common purpose.”

We also like this ontology for technical debt:

Breaking down technical debt by reckless vs. prudent, and deliberate vs. inadvertent.

Overall, Gábor’s piece is a good read.

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