7 Causes of Technical Debt and How to Avoid It

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This is a brief introduction to technical debt—including top causes and how to avoid it.

Technical debt (also known as code debt and design debt) is a term used to describe the eventual consequences of a technical design or development choice made for a short-term benefit but with subsequent consequences. An example is writing suboptimal code to meet a deadline, knowing that the code will have to be rewritten later to make the software maintainable.

Technical debt may have one or more causes, such as:
1. Time pressures
2. Overly complex technical design
3. Poor alignment to standards
4. Lack of skill
5. Suboptimal code
6. Delayed refactoring
7. Insufficient testing

Over time, those factors result in the accumulation of technical inefficiencies that need to be serviced in the future. Unchecked technical debt may make the software more expensive to change than to re-implement.

Technical debt can be avoided or minimized by not taking shortcuts, using simple designs, and refactoring continuously. When there’s technical debt, the team should make the items visible by registering entries in the product release backlog, where the matters will be evaluated and prioritized for resolution.

Controlling technical debt (when others don't) can be a competitive advantage.

This content is an abridged excerpt from the award-winning book, Agile Scrum: Your Quick Start Guide with Step-by-Step Instructions, offered in digital and print formats.

The ebook (ASIN: B01FZ0JIIY) is available in:

paperback (ISBN-13: 9781533370242) is for sale at:

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© Copyright 2017 Scott M. Graffius. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the express written permission of Scott M. Graffius.

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Scott M. Graffius Speaking at DevOps Pro Europe Conference


🔥 Update: The DevOps Pro 2021 Conference recorded sessions. The video for Scott's talk is included at the end of this post.

Scott M. Graffius will be speaking at the 6th annual Vilnius, Lithuania-based DevOps Pro Europe Conference. This year, speakers and attendees can participate in-person or online. Scott will lead the session “But First, the Team!”

📍 Vilnius and online
🗓 Thursday, May 13, 2021
🕓 Pacific Time: 4:00-4:50 a.m. PT
🕚 Greenwich Mean Time: 11:00-11:50 a.m. GMT
🕑 Eastern European Time: 2:00-2:50 p.m. EET
🎟 https://devopspro.lt

Attendees may be eligible to receive continuing education unit (CEU) credit, equivalent to 0.75 hour. For reporting with the Project Management Institute (PMI), it's 0.75 professional development unit (PDU), under the Leadership category. For reporting with the Scrum Alliance, it's 0.75 Scrum educational unit (SEU), under either the Learning category or the Events category. For reporting with other organizations, refer to their respective instructions.

About Scott M. Graffius

Scott M. Graffius, PMP, CSP-SM, CSP-PO, CSM, CSPO, SFE, ITIL, LSSGB has generated hundreds of millions of dollars of business value in aggregate for the organizations he has served. He is an agile project management practitioner, consultant, award-winning author, and international speaker. His expertise spans project, program, portfolio, and PMO leadership inclusive of agile, traditional, and hybrid approaches. Content from Scott's books, workshops, speaking engagements, and more have been featured and used by businesses, governments, and universities including Gartner, Microsoft, Oracle, Cisco, Ford, Qantas, Atlassian, Bayer, the National Academy of Sciences, the United States Department of Energy, the United States Army, the New Zealand Ministry of Education, Tufts University, Texas A&M University, Penn State, Virginia Tech, University of Waterloo, Loughborough University London, and others. Thinkers360 named Scott a global top thought leader and influencer in three domains: Agile, Digital Transformation, and GovTech. His full-length bio is available at https://www.scottgraffius.com/bio.html.

Connect with Scott on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

About DevOps Pro Europe 2021

The DevOps Pro Europe conference—now in its 6th year—is the leading event where DevOps mindset, skills, and tools converge. The conference covers the core principles and concepts of the DevOps methodology and demonstrates how to use best DevOps patterns to develop, deploy, and maintain applications on-premises and in the cloud.

The conference covers a diverse range of topics, including:

  • DevOps Approach – Continuous Delivery, Continuous Integration, Configuration Management, Automated testing, and Deployment.
  • DevOps Technologies – Virtualization, Containerization, Orchestration, Microservices, and Cloud Computing (AWS, Azure, and OpenStack).
  • DevOps Tools – Docker, Chef, Puppet, PowerShell, Kubernetes, GitHub, Ansible, SaltStack, Capistrano, and Jenkins.
  • DevOps Real World Experience – technology adoption examples, real life implementation scenarios, best practices, and insights from thought leaders and influencers.

The annual event attracts Developers, IT Professionals, IT Managers, and others involved with or interested in DevOps.

To learn more and to register for the event, visit

Update on May 20, 2021

For the speaker and paid attendees, the conference recorded the session and published it as an unlisted (private) video. Scott's talk is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfc-PRuR8z4 and the video is also shown below.

© Copyright 2021 Scott M. Graffius. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the express written permission of Scott M. Graffius.

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