Archives For technical debt

Here’s a view from inside Tesla by one of it’s former employees. Taking the report at face value, which is of course an arguable proposition, you can see how technical debt can build up to a point where it’s near impossible to pay it down. That in turn can have significant effects on the safety performance of the organisation, see the Toyota spaghetti code case as another example. The take home for this is for any software safety effort it’s a good idea to see whether the company/team is measuring technical debt in a meaningful fashion and are actively retiring it, for example by alternating capability and maintenance updates.

Tesla and technical debt.

https://mobile.twitter.com/atomicthumbs/status/1032939617404645376

Technical debt

05/09/2015 — 1 Comment

St Briavels Castle Debtors Prison (Image source: Public domain)

Paying down the debt

A great term that I’ve just come across, technical debt is a metaphor coined by Ward Cunningham to reflect on how a decision to act expediently for an immediate reason may have longer term consequences. This is a classic problem during design and development where we have to balance various ‘quality’ factors against cost and schedule. The point of the metaphor is that this debt doesn’t go away, the interest on that sloppy or expedient design solution keeps on getting paid every time you make a change and find that it’s harder than it should be. Turning around and ‘fixing’ the design in effect pays back the principal that you originally incurred. Failing to pay off the principal? Well such tales can end darkly. Continue Reading…