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How to prevent technical debt?

Technical debt is the future additional work that arises when a quick and simple software solution is chosen over sustainability and quality. It primarily arises due to inadequate planning and changing requirements during a project’s course. Read more about technical debt and how it can arise.

How to identify technical debt?

Detecting technical debt is not always easy. Sometimes the development team knows it exists, perhaps because they, due to sudden changes in the client's requirements, had to do something they hadn't initially planned for. In other cases, one might be completely unaware of the technical debt and only notice it if, as a software provider, you take over the operation and further development of an existing solution.

To identify technical debt, you can:

  • Conduct thorough code reviews to identify errors and shortcomings
  • Look into whether the performance of the software is satisfactory
  • Consult software users to identify any issues they may be experiencing
  • Review previous errors and bugs identified in the system
  • Use tools that analyse the code and identify redundant code, security vulnerabilities, etc.

By consistently performing one or more of the above points, you can identify technical debt early and reduce the risk of its emergence – and its growth over time.

Why should you manage technical debt?

Managing technical debt is important for several reasons. Perhaps most importantly, it reduces long-term maintenance costs, as otherwise, you constantly need to counteract the problems caused by technical debt.

Having no technical debt to consider also leads to improved efficiency and scalability, as there are no barriers to adding new features to the solution. Additionally, team collaboration can become more effective when technical debt is not a constant problem potentially causing friction.

How to prevent technical debt?

Preventing technical debt can be difficult, primarily because of the constant challenge of balancing high quality with quick delivery. However, there are some things to keep in mind to reduce the risks of its occurrence:


The most important thing you can do to counteract technical debt is to plan. In project planning, you should include things like requirement analysis and identification of potential risks and bottlenecks during the project’s course. Plan based on this to avoid unclear goals. Also, remember to plan time for review and testing, even if it happens later in the process.

Don't rush

A common cause of technical debt is being under time pressure. If you’re the project manager from a company buying software development, you might have pressure from management to implement the solution quickly, which, in turn, puts pressure on the development team. It's easy to make hasty decisions that will have consequences in the future. To avoid this, allocate sufficient time for the project.

Improve and revise

Just because the solution is implemented doesn't mean it's entirely finished. You must invest in continuously maintaining your software solution to consistently improve it – all to ensure it continues to perform as intended.


Maintain an ongoing conversation with all stakeholders, from developers (whether internal or external) to the management of your company. Be direct and clear in your communication and share knowledge and experiences. This way, everyone can express their expectations for the project from the beginning, and requirements and goals can be set accordingly.

Managing existing technical debt

If technical debt is already a reality, there are some things you should do to reduce it:

  • Fix bugs and problems and understand why they occurred
  • Break down the technical debt into smaller parts and handle them step by step
  • Prioritize the smaller parts so that they are addressed in the right order
  • Plan time to actively work on technical debt, for example, in individual sprints
  • Evaluate the improvements made so that progress can be clearly seen

If you have identified technical debt in your organization, it's important to address it. Otherwise, it can affect your software solution by contributing to increased complexity as well as poorer performance and quality, ultimately impacting the user experience. Also, keep in mind that handling technical debt is often considerably worse than actively working to counteract it from the beginning.

Want to know more about technical debt?

Read more about what technical debt is and how it can arise.
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