Putting a price to your technological debt can transform your ability to future-proof your business.
There’s a concept in software development that is spilling over in to business management: helping us all to better understand and plan our wider IT development.
‘Technical debt’ is a well-known term in the development community. It means that you’ve put a solution in place that you know isn’t perfect. Often due to time pressures or other restrictions, it can be a practical or unavoidable decision. But you know that, in the future, you’re going to have to work around this imperfect bit of code. And that comes at a price. The more-central the bit of code, the harder it will be to repair, replace or work around later.
It might be hard to put a figure on, but there are ongoing costs to the infrastructure decisions we make – well beyond the purchase price:
- Maintenance & updates
- Running costs
- Office space
- Staff time
So, if we decide to put a solution in place that we know is not the best – as we all do sometimes – we must factor a further ‘debt’ in to our future planning:
- Extra staff time ‘working around’ difficulties
- Early redundancy as technology grows and develops
- Future upgrades and development will be more expensive
The more central this imperfect tech is to our systems, the bigger that debt will be. So, it goes without saying that knowing, and understanding, the costs will help you to manage them. Like any debt – you should plan to pay it off gradually. You need to know what the ‘interest’ payments are likely to be – that is, the extra price of living with, using, and replacing your tech.