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Technical Debt –
Understanding its
Sources and Impacts
Through a Game
David Croley - @davidcroley
David Croley
Agile Velocity
Principal Consultant
Certified Scrum Manager ( CSM)
@davidcroley
dcroley@agilevelocity.com
Tra...
We’d prefer to deliver a fast,
steady stream of new features…
But sometimes delivery feels
slow, even stagnant.
CC BY 2.0 http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwspacific/6121377305/
And we hope it doesn’t feel like
this!
Technical Debt
A useful metaphor similar to financial debt
“Interest” is incurred in the form of costlier
development effo...
Development Investment
Good and Bad Debt
Martin Fowler’s Technical Debt Quadrants
http://www.martinfowler.com/bliki/TechnicalDebtQuadrant.html
Late Deliveries
Mounting
Defects
Rising Development Costs
Poor Customer
Responsiveness
Long Delivery Times
Frustrated and ...
Impact of Technical Debt
“Agile Project Management”, Jim Highsmith, second edition
Let’s do an exercise to understand
the concept further.
Form into Teams of at least 4
people.
Feature
Cost: 15
Feature
Cost: 10
Feature
Cost: 5
Technical Debt
Cost 15
Impact -10
Technical Debt
Cost 15
Impact -10
Tech...
Feature
Cost: 15
Feature
Cost: 10
Feature
Cost: 5
Technical Debt
Cost 15
Impact -10
Technical Debt
Cost 15
Impact -10
Tech...
25
-35
X
Feature
Cost: 10
Feature
Cost: 15
Feature
Cost: 10
Technical Debt
Cost 15
Impact -10
Technical Debt
Cost 15
Impact -10
Tec...
-35
25
10
15
15
X
Feature
Cost: 10
Feature
Cost: 15
Feature
Cost: 10
Technical Debt
Cost 15
Impact -10
Technical Debt
Cost 15
Impact -10
Tec...
The goal is to complete as many
feature points at the end of 5
iterations.
Go!
The goal is to complete as many
feature points at the end of 5
iterations.
Stop!
Theoretical Capacity
Technical Debt
Productivity
Time
Debrief
So how did it go?
What strategy did your team use to
mix features and debt?
Is it realistic?
Capture your debt
Visualize and Estimate
Tools and Techniques
Use tools like SonarQube to help find and measure
tech debt
Ask the team
Track defects by location in...
Publicize and Communicate
Need to invest time, team needs
slack
Boy Scout slide
Incrementally make your code
better
Key’s to Prioritizing Technical
Debt
Have a Clear Definition of Done - Acceptance Criteria
Articulate Business Value
Work ...
21
21
1
2
1 2 1 1
One Backlog Prioritized by the Product
Owner
Feature Story
Technical Debt Story
21
21
1
2
1211
21
21
1
2
1211
Feature Story
Technical Debt Story
Two Backlogs Prioritized
Independently
80/20 Allocation
S...
Discuss how you could apply these
concepts to help your teams.
David Croley – dcroley@agilevelocity.com
Website – AgileVelocity.com
Blog – AustinAgile.com
Twitter - @austinagile
Thanks!
Kaa2015, Tech Debt: Understanding its Sources and Impacts Through a Game
Kaa2015, Tech Debt: Understanding its Sources and Impacts Through a Game
Kaa2015, Tech Debt: Understanding its Sources and Impacts Through a Game
Kaa2015, Tech Debt: Understanding its Sources and Impacts Through a Game
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Kaa2015, Tech Debt: Understanding its Sources and Impacts Through a Game

  1. 1. Technical Debt – Understanding its Sources and Impacts Through a Game David Croley - @davidcroley
  2. 2. David Croley Agile Velocity Principal Consultant Certified Scrum Manager ( CSM) @davidcroley dcroley@agilevelocity.com Transforming Technology Organizations 2
  3. 3. We’d prefer to deliver a fast, steady stream of new features…
  4. 4. But sometimes delivery feels slow, even stagnant. CC BY 2.0 http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwspacific/6121377305/
  5. 5. And we hope it doesn’t feel like this!
  6. 6. Technical Debt A useful metaphor similar to financial debt “Interest” is incurred in the form of costlier development effort Technical Debt can be paid down through refactoring the implementation Unlike monetary debt, Technical Debt is difficult to quantify
  7. 7. Development Investment
  8. 8. Good and Bad Debt Martin Fowler’s Technical Debt Quadrants http://www.martinfowler.com/bliki/TechnicalDebtQuadrant.html
  9. 9. Late Deliveries Mounting Defects Rising Development Costs Poor Customer Responsiveness Long Delivery Times Frustrated and Poor Performing Teams Impact of Tech Debt
  10. 10. Impact of Technical Debt “Agile Project Management”, Jim Highsmith, second edition
  11. 11. Let’s do an exercise to understand the concept further. Form into Teams of at least 4 people.
  12. 12. Feature Cost: 15 Feature Cost: 10 Feature Cost: 5 Technical Debt Cost 15 Impact -10 Technical Debt Cost 15 Impact -10 Technical Debt Cost 10 Impact -5 Technical Debt Cost 5 Impact -5 Technical Debt Cost 5 Impact -5 Iteration Card Setup your board as follows
  13. 13. Feature Cost: 15 Feature Cost: 10 Feature Cost: 5 Technical Debt Cost 15 Impact -10 Technical Debt Cost 15 Impact -10 Technical Debt Cost 10 Impact -5 Technical Debt Cost 5 Impact -5 Technical Debt Cost 5 Impact -5 Iteration Card Add up the total impact of all technical debt items -35
  14. 14. 25 -35 X
  15. 15. Feature Cost: 10 Feature Cost: 15 Feature Cost: 10 Technical Debt Cost 15 Impact -10 Technical Debt Cost 15 Impact -10 Technical Debt Cost 10 Impact -5 Technical Debt Cost 5 Impact -5 Technical Debt Cost 5 Impact -5 Iteration Card You have 25 Points to Spend Select the cards you want to spend your points on. No partially done work. Feature Cost: 5 Feature Cost: 5
  16. 16. -35 25 10 15 15 X
  17. 17. Feature Cost: 10 Feature Cost: 15 Feature Cost: 10 Technical Debt Cost 15 Impact -10 Technical Debt Cost 15 Impact -10 Technical Debt Cost 10 Impact -5 Technical Debt Cost 5 Impact -5 Technical Debt Cost 5 Impact -5 Iteration Card You have 25 Points to Spend Select the cards you want to spend your points on. No partially done work. Feature Cost: 5 Feature Cost: 5 Iteration Card Cost: 10 Database is getting large and complex. We need to add automated migrations to reduce manual work and support refactoring. Impact: -5
  18. 18. The goal is to complete as many feature points at the end of 5 iterations. Go!
  19. 19. The goal is to complete as many feature points at the end of 5 iterations. Stop!
  20. 20. Theoretical Capacity Technical Debt Productivity Time
  21. 21. Debrief So how did it go? What strategy did your team use to mix features and debt? Is it realistic?
  22. 22. Capture your debt
  23. 23. Visualize and Estimate
  24. 24. Tools and Techniques Use tools like SonarQube to help find and measure tech debt Ask the team Track defects by location in the code Make sure the team feels empowered to fix debt issues every day
  25. 25. Publicize and Communicate
  26. 26. Need to invest time, team needs slack
  27. 27. Boy Scout slide Incrementally make your code better
  28. 28. Key’s to Prioritizing Technical Debt Have a Clear Definition of Done - Acceptance Criteria Articulate Business Value Work Incrementally - Breakdown Items Make Visible - Add to the Backlog Prioritize/ Allocate Time
  29. 29. 21 21 1 2 1 2 1 1 One Backlog Prioritized by the Product Owner Feature Story Technical Debt Story
  30. 30. 21 21 1 2 1211 21 21 1 2 1211 Feature Story Technical Debt Story Two Backlogs Prioritized Independently 80/20 Allocation Strategy
  31. 31. Discuss how you could apply these concepts to help your teams.
  32. 32. David Croley – dcroley@agilevelocity.com Website – AgileVelocity.com Blog – AustinAgile.com Twitter - @austinagile Thanks!

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