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How to minimize technical debt in software projects

 

When developing software, most developers strive to complete the project as quickly as possible. However, building projects under pressure leads to a massive technical debt, which may affect the long-term performance and maintainability of the software. 

According to a study by Stripe, software engineers spend 33% of their time fixing technical debt. This means that in a 10-hour workday, these developers spend about 3.3 hours fixing bad code. It could have been avoided if technical debt was dealt with in advance. 

In this article, you will learn more about minimizing technical debt in your software projects. We will discuss what technical debt is, its causes, and how to minimize it in your software projects. Come on, let’s get started.

Technical debt is what?

A technical debt is the cost (time and money) you will incur later in the software development process if you take a shorter route that disregards the best coding practices. A technical issue can be caused by internal or external factors, and some of these include the following.

  • From clients under pressure
  • Skill deficit
  • Planned lack of action
  • Code refactoring is not being performed or is being delayed

Reducing technical debt

It may be unrealistic to reach zero technical debt for most software projects, but your goal as a developer or team leader should be to minimise technical debt as much as possible. Here are some ways you can accomplish this.  

1. Make reviewing a habit.

Most developers and team leaders make the mistake of reviewing code only after significant progress has been made on the project. There is a downside to this approach, namely the complexity of reviewing large chunks of code. In comparison to thousands of lines of code, it is much easier for the reviewer to spot errors in a few lines of code. 

A routine review process during the development process will make this process more efficient and effective.   

2. Make sure all stakeholders are aware of the negative effects of technical debt

In order to build a successful software project, all stakeholders must be able to agree on how the work should be done and on the best timeline for achieving each milestone. The client, team leaders, and developers should understand what technical debt is and how it affects the long-term and short-term performance and maintainability of the software you are building before getting started. 

When everyone is on the same page about the effects of technical debt, it is easier to agree on the most practical timelines for hitting target sets. Leaders and clients are frequently under pressure because they are unaware of the impact of using good software development practices.   

3. Make use of automated code review tools.

To save time while reviewing code, it is necessary to use automated tools for code testing and identifying most of the common errors in your code. Although most of these tools are not free, they will reward you at the end of the day by improving code quality and saving you time. Sonarqube, Code Climate, and BlueOptima are tools that can perform these functions. 

4. Use the best coding practices.

There should be no excuse for not following the best coding practices, whether under pressure or not. The best coding practices may differ for different languages and frameworks, but most of them are the same.  When you follow the recommended practices of the languages and frameworks you are using, you will get cleaner code that is easier to review and update later if necessary. 

If you choose to follow best practices while working on projects, it may take some time. In the future, however, you will save much more time when updating, maintaining, or adding new functionality to the project. 

5. Implement a flexible architecture.

Your architecture design will have an impact on how easy it is to deal with technical debt in your projects. If an architecture makes it difficult to change and maintain the code, it will become a costly technical debt. It is necessary to decide on the most ideal architectural design to use before starting the project in order to avoid having problems along the way. 

Summary 

Any software developer or team leader should take technical debt seriously during any software development project. Using the methods to minimise technical debt that we shared above may take time and money to implement, but they will save you a great deal of time and money in the long run. 

These methods will also require the involvement of not only the developers, but also the team leaders and sometimes the client. You should also plan ahead of time how you will minimize technical debt so you can set aside resources for dealing with it.  

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