Modernising applications: The importance of reducing technical debt

This blog post was authored by Amanda Downs, Managing Director,Software Services and Alina Zamorskaya, Senior Manager, Software Services on The Technology Insights Blog.

Technical debt is no longer just a “technical” problem. As recent, widely publicised events have shown, it is a business problem that can have serious consequences for organisations. The government and Congress are taking notice of unfair consumer experiences, and it is crucial for businesses to address their technical debt and minimise the risk of negative press, government fines and damaged reputations.

What is technical debt?

Technical debt can be defined as the accumulation of legacy systems and applications that are difficult to maintain and support, as well as poorly written or hastily implemented code that increases risk over time. These technical challenges can significantly impact the performance and stability of critical operations, and it is essential that these be addressed before they cause damage to your organisation. By listening to the voice of customers, employees, and other users, businesses can identify potential technical debt early and prioritise their modernisation efforts.

Addressing technical debt can be challenging, especially for overworked and understaffed IT teams who are tasked with maintaining aging systems while also learning new development frameworks, languages, and techniques. Band-aid fixes may be easy to implement, but they can be difficult to maintain in the long term and often do not adhere to industry best practices. Prioritising old fixes can feel like a waste of time to the technical team if things are working now, especially when they may be understaffed and overwhelmed with current workloads. The need to learn new systems while keeping the old systems up and running smoothly can generate staffing issues, as the IT team is tasked with simultaneously maintaining aging systems and learning new techniques.

The warning signs of technical debt are clear. Employees may complain that the technology they use is cumbersome, time-consuming and hinders their job performance. Customers may describe applications as clunky, buggy and outdated. If these complaints sound familiar, then it is time to act and reduce technical debt.

How to break free

There are several options that companies can consider before getting started with reducing their technical debt:

  • Perform a short code review to provide a comprehensive overview of the level of risk and identify critical issues that need to be addressed.
    • One of the key components of reducing technical debt is to have a clear understanding of the underlying issues and challenges within one or many applications. This can involve a comprehensive analysis of the current technology infrastructure, identifying systems and processes that are causing the most pain and need to be addressed first. A code review process can provide valuable insights into technical debt, including identifying code that is outdated, poorly written, or difficult to maintain. This information can help prioritise the modernisation efforts, ensuring that the most critical issues are addressed first.
  • Conduct an application modernisation quick start workshop to develop a roadmap of modernisation efforts, outlining the steps needed to improve the technology infrastructure.
    • An application modernisation quick start workshop can help organisations take the first steps towards reducing their technical debt. A workshop can provide a roadmap for modernisation efforts, including the development of a detailed plan outlining the steps required to improve the technology infrastructure. The workshop can also provide valuable insights into the modernisation process, including best practices for modernising legacy systems, optimising application performance, and improving the customer and employee experience.
  • Develop an application modernisation programme to manage the intake process, governance, technical architecture, DevOps, and end-to-end development, reducing risk, accommodating change, and delivering better customer and employee experiences.
    • An application modernisation programme can provide a comprehensive solution to reducing technical debt. This programme can manage the intake process, governance, technical architecture, DevOps, and end-to-end development, reducing risk, accommodating change, and that deliver better customer and employee experiences.

At Protiviti, we are dedicated to helping organisations navigate their application modernisation journeys and achieve success in improving user experiences, and reducing technical debt and business risks. Our team of experts understands each organisation’s unique needs and provides tailored solutions to ensure the success of modernisation efforts. We help companies take the first step towards reducing technical debt and improving both technology infrastructure and brand with modern applications that are intelligent, engaging and easy to use.

To learn more about our application modernisation solutionscontact us.