There are several reasons why you should consider tech debt as a real debt. It is true that the existence and importance of tech debt are not felt by anyone outside the engineering team and cannot see the effect it can have on the ROI. The gains through such codes do not fit in perfectly, and therefore it may be time to consider it seriously and address it at the earliest. Paying off tech debt is not an easy or the desired task by the engineers. It is basically because tech debt is an abstract concept, cannot be measured with proper metrics, and in most cases, the stakeholders do not like the idea due to their ignorance about its cause and effect.
Accruing Real Interest
However awkward the thought may be, it means a lot for the business to pay off tech debt on time. This is just like paying off the financial debt which you may have along with interest. The only difference here is that the interest is the time that is spent on and for the faulty code which keeps on accruing every minute. The reasons of such accrual may be varied, and some of it may be the pressure on the engineering team to meet the deadline of feature release for which they cut corners and compromise on efforts put in and the quality of the code.
It Is A Matter Of Discipline
Right from designing the code to paying off the tech debt incurred by it, managing tech debt is a matter of ultimate discipline and should be done sincerely and honestly. It all starts with an honest admittance that tech debt exists in a code base. Ethical and sound engineering practice can only help in the designing of code which is fault free and designed with proper testing, care and time. The extra effort put in now will save a lot of time, money and effort that you may require for its frequent and unnecessary refactoring.
Tech Debt Spiral
Another reason to consider it as a real debt is that it gets increased at a compound rate and also have a shorter shelf life. It is common practice among start-ups to encourage tech debt as it provides competition among teams. But when it is left unaddressed for a long time it may affect even the survival of the company. Most importantly, you will not feel that your company is slowly dying from the inside which will leave you with no chance to bounce back into existence. It is a slow, lingering and silent death.
Look Of The Death Spiral
There is no specific look of the death spiral as it cannot be detected. It can only be assumed to exist when certain functional problems arise. The company may sideline suggestions of the development team, the code base becomes difficult to work with, and it gets hard to recruit any strong talent when you see the best engineers are leaving your company. You tend to fall behind times irrecoverably, customers are at discomfort, and eventually the code gets bankrupt. Click here to know more about tech debt consequences.