Technology Pro Tip: Now’s the Time to Reassess Technical Debt

Technical debt was a problem before the pandemic, and it kept growing from there. As associations gradually move toward resuming normal operations, consider tackling it once and for all.

Remember that feeling in the pit of your stomach when the pandemic began and suddenly your technology stack—warts and all—had to adapt to a fully remote climate?

Not a great sensation, right? But it was nonetheless a helpful lesson about which of your tools were keeping up with the times—and which weren’t.

Take advantage of this period before a full return to normal (or at least what will pass for normal after the pandemic) to take a fresh look at your infrastructure and assess whether you’re carrying around unnecessary extra baggage.

What’s the Strategy?

Technical debt is the cost associated with overhauling technology solutions that were initially implemented because of ease, speed, or budget, which may have meant a trade-off in quality. Technical debt existed before the pandemic—an association putting off a necessary tech update is an example—but it may have become more obvious with the rise of remote work.

For example, let’s say your organization adopted a piece of inexpensive software in the rush to make remote work viable. That solved an immediate need—but two years later, you’re paying for that software in other ways, such as patching on additions that make more sense for the moment than for the future. In the long term, you would have been better served to set up a better solution that required more development time, but by now you’ve invested in subpar software for two years, making it difficult to part with.

Reducing these burdens takes effort but ultimately creates a stronger tech stack and more efficient organization.

Why Is It Effective?

One survey conducted recently by Software AG found that 78 percent of organizations picked up additional technical debt during the pandemic. “The pandemic has dramatically accelerated many things when it comes to technology and transformation. Technical debt is just one of them,” the firm’s CEO, Sanjay Brahmawar, told ITProPortal.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that, during a period in which you may only be taking slow steps to return to the office or the convention center, there’s a little more white space to take on bigger challenges. Investing in becoming technically solvent during this unique period will pay off in the long run.

What’s the Potential?

Beyond cutting back on technologies that are costing you more money than they’re worth, addressing technical debt allows you to invest in more fundamentally sound strategies, such as a cloud-based infrastructure, that will better match your organization’s future needs.

In an interview with Red Hat’s The Enterprisers Project, Yugal Joshi of the global research firm Everest Group noted that organizations best equipped to succeed are the ones that leverage the tough moments to go in a new direction.

“These times made the CIOs realize there is a better way of building and running technology for the organization,” Joshi said. “This realization will drive better design, architecture, and processes that will eventually address technical debt.”

(vasiliki/E+/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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