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The real cost of tech debt for your business- and how to fix it.

Podcast host Kimberly Boyd | Podcast guest Mike Mason and Rachel Laycock
April 05, 2023 | 35 min 53 sec

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Brief summary

Technical debt has bounced into the spotlight after major system failures hit US aviation hard, forcing executive leaders to consider their own risk. Mike Mason and Rachel Laycock, Thoughtworks’ Global Heads of Technology and Enterprise Modernization, explore why addressing tech debt matters and how doing so can benefit your bottom line. If you are a business leader seeking practical ways to strategically manage your tech debt risk, this is the podcast for you.

Episode Highlights


  • It's hard to see, in a very straightforward way, the impact of poor design decisions in the code.


  • There's different kinds of tech debt. Sometimes there's a deliberate decision to just do something quickly, for today, but sometimes things sneak up on you, because you could build stuff well with all the information that you have today, but then tomorrow, the business landscape could change.


  • The most critical thing, I believe, is creating visibility. To translate tech debt into the impact on the business. Metrics, both qualitative and quantitative, can help with that. 


  • You can also do value stream mapping as a technique there, where you look at the entire process of going from an idea or a business requirement all the way through to having something running in production and creating value. You can look at all of the steps there and say, "Hey, does this step really need to take this long? Why is it taking this long?" 


  • People don't intend to get into a situation where they're stuck and going slower than they want to be. Sometimes you can almost use the emotions that people are feeling as a clue.


  • look out for what I call conflicting metrics, or a metric but where two teams might disagree on how they want to improve that metric.


  • Developer experience comes from trying to enable the development teams to move faster. I also think it's a lens of bringing product thinking to the development team. Treating those teams who are building features for your business as customers.


  • Applying a product thinking approach, even for internal pieces of software, means you can think of the technical health of such a thing as part of the creation of a long-term asset.


  • There is a specific outcome, a negative outcome of not paying down that technical debt. That's what we need to get to, or it's what we need to create visibility for, and we need to do it in a way that business leaders have enough information to make a decision on


  • One of the fundamental problems we have is this huge separation between a business strategy and a technology strategy. It should be a close feedback loop.

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