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How to Solve Technical Debt with a Digital Platform Conductor

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Published on June 17, 2022 by

Paul Deur

If you’re devoting resources to managing legacy technology and falling behind on new digital initiatives, you aren’t alone. Technical debt is something every IT leader must manage. With a strategic plan in place and the help of a digital platform conductor (DPC), you can tackle it.

A 2020 McKinsey survey of CIOs found 10 to 20% of their technical budget dedicated to new products is diverted to resolving issues related to technical debt and that for large organizations, it can translate to hundreds of millions of dollars of wasted spend. 60% of CIOS surveyed felt it had risen perceptibly in their organization over the previous three years.

What is technical debt and how is it accrued?

Technical debt practically refers to legacy infrastructure, that is now ingrained in the IT architecture and difficult to replace, sunset or upgrade. It often refers to developments and investments made to meet a short-term need and are often mission critical and cannot be disrupted. The cost of replacing, redeveloping, or redesigning these systems can be more than “keeping the lights on” and therefore organizations maintain growing debt to keep them operational.

Over time technical debt accrues until you’re devoting more resources to managing it. This can have a major impact on IT, including:

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An increasing amount of time and cost devoted to applying workarounds, patches and quick fixes and to extending warranties of legacy systems in lieu of innovating and leveraging best of breed, modern options.

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Innovation being hampered with focus taken away from managing new digital initiatives.

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Vulnerabilities associated with “home-grown” solutions and EOL solutions create more risk.

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An inability to patch quickly enough resulting in user productivity issues related to downtime or data being put at risk.

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Costs to IT’s reputation and the business itself when new initiatives that support strategic goals cannot be implemented.

Free up budget and time to work on new initiatives

There will always be some level of technical debt within the business, but as IT is forced to innovate at a faster pace, it’s going to become a bigger issue in the future if not held in check. The McKinsey survey results showed that some companies find actively managing tech debt frees up engineers to spend up to 50% more time on work that support business goals. It could also free up much needed budget.

But as your IT estate grows more complex, how can you go about unravelling dependencies to work out where to begin? One of the biggest barriers to managing tech debt is the worry that legacy technology is so ingrained in the IT infrastructure that you could break something if you touch it.

At a time when IT teams are stretched to breaking point, tackling technical debt can feel like an impossible task.

Creating a plan to tackle technical debt

Find your way out of technical debt by following these steps:

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Create an inventory of your IT estate listing all dependencies.

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Track the number of issues created and their root cause, as well as the time and money that is spent on fixing them.

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Create a risk level, rank issues, and identify business owners to work with using your data.

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Identify plans to deal with technical debt, for example moving toward a virtualized cloud infrastructure and applications.

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Compare costs of replacing or evolving technology vs patching and fixing it over time, making recommendations for change and gaining leadership buy-in.

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Manage your evolution and continue to monitor and address areas of concern over time so that technical debt doesn’t accumulate unchecked in the future.

Sound easy? We know it isn’t – particularly when information about your IT infrastructure is distributed across multiple clouds and on-prem. How do you keep track of technical debt if you can’t see your entire IT estate in real time?

Simplify tracking with a digital platform conductor

One solution is to implement a digital platform conductor (DPC). A DPC connects to your disparate sources of data and automates aggregation and analysis to give you a single, centralized view of your IT estate in real time. A DPC also orchestrates other IT tools, allowing you to orchestrate tasks via these systems.

By implementing a DPC you can tackle technical debt by:

  • Clearly identify where you should make change first – whether that’s the technology that’s costing the most, has reached EOL, or is the easiest to migrate without impacting users or business operations.
  • Identify issues more quickly by understanding dependencies.
  • Automate and orchestrate human and system tasks to accelerate your technical debt reduction program.

Book a demo to find how ReadyWorks, a digital platform conductor, can help you find a clear path out of technical debt in your organization.