Essential Scrum
Essential Scrum

Chapter 8: Technical Debt

This chapter discusses the concept of technical debt. I begin by defining technical debt, which encompasses naive debt, unavoidable debt, and deliberate debt. Next I examine some common causes of technical debt and the consequences of accruing high levels of debt. I then describe three activities associated with technical debt: managing the accrual of technical debt, making technical debt visible, and servicing technical debt. I specifically emphasize how to apply these activities when using Scrum.

Chapter Contents:

  • Overview
  • Consequences of Technical Debt
    • Unpredictable Tipping Point
    • Increased Time to Delivery
    • Significant Number of Defects
    • Rising Development and Support Costs
    • Product Atrophy
    • Decreased Predictability
    • Underperformance
    • Universal Frustration
    • Decreased Customer Satisfaction
  • Causes of Technical Debt
    • Pressure to Meet a Deadline
    • Attempting to Falsely Accelerate Velocity
    • Myth: Less Testing Can Accelerate Velocity
    • Debt Builds on Debt
  • Technical Debt Must Be Managed
  • Managing the Accrual of Technical Debt
    • Use Good Technical Practices
    • Use a Strong Definition of Done
    • Properly Understand Technical Debt Economics
  • Making Technical Debt Visible
    • Make Technical Debt Visible at the Business Level
    • Make Technical Debt Visible at the Technical Level
  • Servicing the Technical Debt
    • Not All Technical Debt Should Be Repaid
    • Apply the Boy Scout Rule (Service Debt When You Happen Upon It)
    • Repay Technical Debt Incrementally
    • Repay the High-Interest Technical Debt First
    • Repay Technical Debt While Performing Customer-Valuable Work
  • Closing