Book a call

10x Agile - Technical Debt in a non IT environment

Ana Nastase
10 Mar, 2020
3 m read

What is Technical Debt?

Technical debt: it appears during an incremental cycle, during building a product or a service to bring value to the customer at the requested time or earlier. It could alter the outcome of the increment, and the team is managing the debt. You can find more definitions about ceremonies in SCRUM (one of the most known Agile frameworks - here is an article about Scrum Sprint) here.

Usually, teams are taking decisions about ‘Tech Debt’ and because no Agile Retrospective ceremony is happening at the end of the sprint - no one learn from mistakes or how they can improve and they blame themselves because of a poor decision even if it was the best decision that they could take at that moment with the information that they had.


How do we handle it?

My first house - built from the ground up

A few years ago, I’ve built a house buying services from a constructor. I’ve discussed with the electrician and decided where to create all ditches for pipes in the walls for creating the channels for the internet cables.

The constructor put small pipes in diameter and put the cables through them almost by pushing - is a simple technical debt

The problems?

1. The network cables in the wall are not of a good quality - the speed is slow.

2. Network cables are not covering all the house corners.

An intermediary solution.

I’ve used a wireless router but could not cover the entire house, and there are electronics that didn’t work with slow internet connections.

This solution is of any help? Yes, in a way… but not all the electronics worked as they should. And now it's time to figure out which are the priorities - it wasn’t the only problem that we’ve had :(.

(approximately 4-5 hours of work)

And now there is a technical debt that needs my attention. But this is in a context with all the other priorities.

What could I have done from the beginning?

  • make a short research
  • be clear in communication with the constructor
  • this is happening at your first house 🙂 and shouldn’t be the best one in town… or at least from the beginning 🙂 - I need it an agile mindset

(approximately 3-4 hours of work) - with no other amount of work on this issue

Now what can I do? Is there another way?

... the number of problems is a finite number, but the solutions outnumber them! - this is what an agile growth mindset is all about.

I was looking for an unknown wireless technology that could cover all the corners I’ve needed.

(approximately 3-4 days of work)

Do you see how Technical Debt creates additional work (in percentage is over 1000%)?

I’ve taken a poor decision and another one and then others I’m adding down the road. This happens in our professional work day by day, consciously or unconsciously, until we figure out what steps we can take proactively.

These decisions which may not lead to the best choices often end up creating more work in correcting those choices, and we add more Technical Debt.

By making, a retrospective (more details here) - this is an activity that breaks the pattern - I see what I could have done better or how I could have made it right from the beginning. Thus, I needed to:

  • discuss in more detail with the constructor
  • put pipes bigger in the diameter to have the possibility to change the cables easily
  • pay attention to all the places in the house: it still could be a problem because of the new wishes down the road (uncertainty of wishes)… but after they have done everything in the house, it’s a “little” harsh to break walls again 🙂

Technical Debt is fundamental at the level of an agile team in how we handle tasks - sometimes it can produce frustration between members of a team, but we have everything that we need to "face it" or to prevent it.

Some (final) thoughts

It helps you see everything that you do as a service or as a project, and therefore I recommend checking this Agile Project Management article.

This article is part of a bigger topic called: 

Agile Project Management

Resources related articles

Related Articles


Subscribe to knowledge
© BrainConcert 2021 All rights reserved