Technical debt is the cost incurred when poor technical design and/or implementation decisions are taken to build the tech platform for the sake of moving fast in the short-term instead of a better approach that would take longer but preserves the efficiency, maintainability, and sanity of the codebase.
In the absence of good tech oversight practices, slow and steady accumulation of bad code starts, it gets hard to stop, as more code is written to contain the negative effects of an existing bad code while building new features, then some more code to maintain the ever-growing mess. Maintenance become more difficult and costlier, especially as the codebase expands.
Key investments in time upfront to safeguard against the quality of the tech platform will end up paying dividends in term of cost savings whether the business strategy is acquisition or growth.
Following are the top areas of focus for a CEO while building the tech:
- Retain CTO leadership that has a proven record in balancing speed vs quality.
- Minimum processes should be put in place from the start to provide oversight to the development process to preserve the quality of the tech platform(s).
- Build vs buy/Integration approaches should be aligned with company’s competitive strategies.
- Product strategy should drive the tech strategy not the other way around.