Julee Everett and Ryan Ripley shared a wonderful article on making technical debt more visible. In that article, they focus on visual metrics that illustrate progress in cleaning up debt.

I’d encourage you to read it.


The article also made me think a bit about my own experience with technical debt and how to influence the organization to take it more seriously. Here are some advice tidbits to make your technical debt more visible –

  1. Make it a responsibility for all team members (not just the PO) to write technical debt stories and acceptance criteria.
  2. When you write a TD story, make sure you couch in it terms of what the repair means to the business and customer value.
  3. Demo your TD stories; show the value. If they’re hard to demo or hard to explain…tough, figure out how to make the value/impact case.
  4. Speak to the percentages of TD focus (delivered per sprint, per release, within the backlog) and have a goal.
  5. Establish organization TD targets…then stick to them. Celebrate them.
  6. Encourage team members to submit ideas for TD reductions whenever possible. I.e., we all “own” finding, identifying, and reducing debt. It’s a whole-organization imperative!
  7. If you have an investment focus (Hackathons, Innovation sprints, I-days, 20% time, etc.) then encourage teams to “beat down” technical debt opportunities as well.

Wrapping Up

I love what Julee had to say and her focus on graphical visibility as a means of focusing on Technical Debt.

Agile organizations, truly agile ones, need to look at debt reduction as an imperative. One that’s always couched in business terms of:

  • Impact on customer
  • Impact on efficiency
  • Impact on quality
  • Impact on performance
  • Impact on ease of use
  • Impact on simplicity
  • Impact on the team
  • And, impact on technical robustness and design integrity.

I hope you also are inspired by Julee’s post.

Stay agile my friends,