Welcome to Technical Debt for Policymakers

Last updated on November 1st, 2018 at 05:01 pm

Welcome to Technical Debt for Policymakers. I’m Rick Brenner, and what you’ll find here are resources, insights, and conversations of interest to policymakers who are concerned with managing technical debt within their organizations.

Terminology in the technical debt community is far from standard. So a good place to begin reading this blog is the terminology category, where I explain my own use of relevant terms in this blog. If you’re a new visitor, you might want to follow this outline:

Introduction to technical debt for policymakers

The psychology of metaphors

The technical debt metaphor is both powerful and perilous. Its power lies in its ability to communicate the concept that some technological assets regarded as operational might — and probably do — need further attention. The peril arises when we think of this metaphorical technical debt as if it were a financial debt. These posts explore the properties of metaphors, and how they can mislead us.

Unintended association: principal

The common understanding of principal in the context of financial debts doesn’t apply to technical debt. Formulating sound technical debt policy depends on understanding the nature of the difference between the principal of a financial debt and the metaphorical principal associated with technical debt.

Unintended association: interest

The common understanding of interest charges on financial debts doesn’t apply to technical debt. Formulating sound technical debt policy depends on understanding the nature of the difference between interest on financial debt and the metaphorical interest charges associated with technical debt.

The role of enterprise culture

Assuming that the culture of an organization affects its ability to manage technical debt, a reasonable goal might be to define a set of attributes an organizational culture should have if the people of the organization want to limit the role of culture in the formation and persistence of technical debt. This group of posts explores how culture and technical debt interact.

Tension between policymakers and technologists

Tension between policymakers and technologists, which can lead to misalignment of their respective priorities, can contribute to uncontrolled growth of technical debt. This thread explores this tension and introduces concepts helpful to policymakers and technologists as they try to control the growth of technical debt.

Non-technical precursors of non-strategic technical debt

Non-strategic technical debt results from misconceptions, accidents, pressure, cognitive biases…almost any source other than engineering purpose. These posts explore  some of its precursors, including:

Solutions

When you embark on efforts to reduce the burden of technical debt,
as you might expect, traps and pitfalls await. Posts in this section explore some of those traps,
and suggest approaches that might lead to desired results with a little less risk.

Or go directly to the blog posts.

Enjoy!