8 Best Practices To Reduce Technical Debt

When past actions in software development return to haunt you…

Is your business being bogged down by technical debt? Let’s look at measures that you can take to reduce it and scale your operations without the weight pulling you back. 

 

Work with a flexible architecture.

Right from the word go, you want to use architecture whose design is malleable, especially with the rapid rate of software evolution witnessed today. Going with an architecture that keeps calling for too much refactoring, or whose design won’t accommodate future changes will leave you with costly technical debt. Use scalable architecture that allows you to modify or add new features in future releases. While on this, complex features required in the final product should be discussed at the planning stage, that way simplified solutions that will be easier to implement can be identified, as this will lead to less technical debt in the long run. 

 

The Deal with Refactoring 

This is basically cleaning up the code structure without changing its behaviour. With the updates, patches, and new functionalities that are added to the systems and applications, each change comes with the threat of more technical debt. Additionally, organisations are increasingly moving their IT infrastructure from on-premises facilities to colocation data centres and deploying them on the cloud. In such scenarios, some workarounds are often needed to enable the systems to function in the new environments, which they hadn’t been initially developed to accommodate. Here, you will need to take some time to refactor the existing system regularly, streamlining the code and optimizing its performance – and this will be key to pay down the tech debt. When working with a flexible architecture from the start, the amount of work that goes into this will be reduced, meaning there’ll be less tech debt involved. 

 

Run discovery tests

Discovery testing essentially takes place even before a line of code is written for the system or application. This takes place at the product definition stage, where human insight software is used to understand the needs of the customer and is particularly helpful in setting priorities for the development work that will be carried out. It gives your business the opportunity to minimize the technical debt by allowing customers to give you a roadmap of the most pertinent features desired from the product. 

 

Routine code review

Getting a fresh look at the product or application from different sets of eyes in the development team will improve the quality of the code, thus reducing technical debt. There’s a catch though – this should be planned in a convenient way that doesn’t end up becoming a burden for the developers. Here are suggestions:

Break down pull requests

Instead of having complex pull requests where numerous changes in the code are introduced at a go, have this broken down into smaller manageable pull requests, each with a brief title and description about it. This will be easier for the code reviewer to analyse. 

● Define preferred coding practices

Documenting the preferred coding style will result in cleaner code, meaning the developers will focus their effort on reviewing the code itself, not losing time on code format debates.

 

Test automation

Relying only on scheduled manual testing opens you up to the risk of technical debt accruing rapidly, and not having sufficient resources to deal with the accumulated problems when they are identified. Automated testing on the other hand enables issues to be uncovered quicker, and with more precision. For instance, you can have automated unit tests that look at the functioning of the individual components of a system, or regression testing where the focus is on whether the code changes that have been implemented have affected related components of the system. However, establishing and maintaining automated testing will require quite some effort – making it more feasible for the long-term projects.

 

Keep a repository that tracks changes made

Do you have a record of changes made in the software? Keeping one in a repository that is accessible by the development team will make it easy to pin-point problems at their source. For instance, when software is being migrated to a new environment, or legacy software is in the process of being modernised, you will want to have an accurate record of changes that are being introduced, that way if there is an undesired impact on the system this it will be easier to zero-down on the cause.

 

Bring non-technical stakeholders on board

Does this conversation sound familiar?

Development Team: “We need to refactor the messy code quickly”

Product Team: “We have no idea what you are saying”

On one hand, you have the management or product team defining the product requirements, creating a project roadmap, and setting its milestones. On the other hand, there’s the software development/engineering that’s primarily focused on the product functionality, technical operations and clearing the backlog in code fixes. Poor communication between the two teams is actually a leading cause of technical debt.

For you to take concrete steps in managing your technical debt, the decision-makers in the organisation should understand its significance, and the necessity of reducing it. Explain to them how the debt occurred and why steps need to be taken to pay it down – but you can’t just bombard them with tech phrases and expect them to follow your thought process. 

So how do you go about it? Reframe the issues involved with the technical debt and explain the business value or impact of the code changes. Basically, the development team should approach it from a business point of view, and educate the management or production team about the cost of the technical debt. This can include aspects such as expenses in changing the code, salaries for the software engineers especially when the development team will need to be increased due to the workload piling up, as well as the revenue that is lost when the technical debt is allowed to spiral. 

The goal here is to show the management or production team how issues like failing to properly define the product requirements will slow down future software development, or how rushing the code will affect the next releases. That way, there will be better collaboration between the teams involved in the project. 

 

Allocate time and resources specifically for reducing technical debt

With management understanding that working with low-quality code is just like incurring financial debt and it will slow down product development, insist on setting time to deal with the debt. 

For instance, when it comes to the timing of application releases, meetings can be conducted to review short- and longer-term priorities. These meetings – where the development team and product team or management are brought together, the developers point out the software issues that should be resolved as a priority as they may create more technical debt. Management then ensures that budgets and plans are put in place to explicitly deal with those ongoing maintenance costs.

 

Retire old platforms

While most of the resources are going into developing new applications and improving the systems being used, the organisation should also focus on retiring the old applications, libraries, platforms, and the code modules. It’s recommended that you factor this into the application release plans, complete with the dates, processes and costs for the systems involved. 

 

Total overhaul

When the cost and effort of dealing with the technical debt far outweighs the benefits, then you may have to replace the entire system. At this tipping point, you’re not getting value from the technical debt, and it has become a painful issue that’s causing your organisation lots of difficulties. For instance, you may be dealing with legacy software where fixing it to support future developments has simply become too complicated. The patches available may only resolve specific issues with the system, and still leave you with lots of technical debt. Here, the best way out is to replace the system in its entirety. 

 

Final thoughts

Every software company has some level of tech debt. Just like financial debt, it is useful when properly managed, and a problem when ignored or allowed to spiral out of control. It’s a tradeoff between design/development actions and business goals. By taking measures to pay down your organization’s debt and address its interest as it accrues, you will avoid situations where short term solutions undermine your long-term goals. This is also key to enable your business to transition to using complex IT solutions easier, and even make the migration between data centres much smoother. These 8 measures will enable you to manage your technical debt better to prevent it from being the bottleneck that stifles your growth.

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Successful Engineer Communication With FieldElite

Technological innovations have been on the rise in the recent past. Our news media are awash with new technologies that are being released in almost every industry. From smart buildings to sophisticated gadgets, every industry has a technological invention to flaunt. 

One area in which technology has blossomed is the field service. In the field service management, things have moved a notch higher. Right from communication, document management, monitoring and evaluation, to information storage, nothing remains where it was a couple of years ago. You no longer have to carry clipboards around to do your inspections or pile files in the office. You no longer have to wait for your field service employees to return to the office before you can receive reports. By using a field service management software like FieldElite, you have it all done at a click. 

With FieldElite, you’ve got everything under control right from the comfort of your office. Provided you’re doing what you need to do and posting updates using the app, the rest will fall into place. Your employees will receive updates from you and vice versa. If there is a client who needs attention, they can easily issue a request through the app and the next available field service officer who?s within proximity will pick it up and attend to the customer?s needs. 

Everything is just a click away. Sounds great, right?

FieldElite is a robust field service management software that’s packed with a wide array of tools meant to simplify communication between the office and the field service employees. With FieldElite, you can reach all your engineers at one go. 

Below are a few of the communication features that make FieldElite the software of choice when it comes to field service management.

Simplified Communication

It’s very important to stay in touch with your engineers in the field to monitor the ongoing activities. For this reason, you need to choose a platform that doesn’t complicate the process. You don’t want important information to reach your team late. That would drag your activities.

Fast and effective communication is, therefore, very key in field service. FieldElite has consequently been made to simplify communication in the field service. Its simplicity can be compared to the usual consumer messaging apps. On the back-end, however, there are very many complex procedures executed through refined algorithms meant to process information and generate instant reports for engineers, supervisors, and the rest of the company team members.  

With the FieldElite app, communication is as easy as dropping a message in the team members? inbox. Again, the app?s communication system is centralised and, thus, every communication trail is easily retrievable. You don’t need different apps for messaging, audio and video calling, and document sharing. You have it all in FieldElite. Simply put, FieldElite is an all-in-one field service management tool that ropes in all essential digital modes of communication. 

But what’s the benefit of having all work-related communication in one place? 

With an all-in-one communication platform like FieldElite, you’ll cut down on wasted time and field tech frustration. Again, any urgent information will reach your engineers on time, and none of them will be left out. What’s more? With effective communication, expect the performance of your team to shoot up. 

Consistent Communication

Field technicians, in this case engineers, need to be kept on toes to get the job done. You can only achieve this by communicating with them more often. Therefore, you need a field service management platform that can offer you that. Most field service management software facilitates constant communication with team members in the field. Even so, not all are as good as you expect. So, you’ve got to be a bit more critical when choosing a field service management software for your business. 

A good field service management software is one that enables you to regularly check in with field techs to make sure that they have everything they need. With FieldElite, you can achieve more than this. FieldElite app allows you to communicate with your engineers from time to time through messages, calls, or shared documents. Again, the team gets information at the same time. 

So, how important is regular communication with your business? 

Keeping in touch with your team members in the field helps you build strong relationships with them. Additionally, you can easily spot areas that need improvement that otherwise could have been hidden from your viewpoint. What’s more? Employees feel valued when you check on them from time to time. As a result, this will boost their overall productivity, which contributes positively to the well-being of your business.

So, take your business to another level by making use of FieldElite communication tools to reach out to your engineers at any time.

Two-Way Communication

Communication in field service can only be successful if you can get feedback from your field techs. As such, the field management software should make it easier for your engineers to notify you of anything that needs urgent attention. With the FieldElite app?s communication features, your engineers can give you real-time updates from any device. The app is compatible with any android device, and, therefore, the field techs can use their smart handsets to communicate important information. 

The messaging and calling features are easy to manipulate, and with a little training, anyone can use them easily. Again, FieldElite allows you to make group calls or send many messages at the same time. Therefore, in case you?d like to talk to the entire team, you can choose to make a group call or send out bulk messages. 

Real-Time Updates

With FieldElite, you don’t need to wait until you meet your team to communicate any changes. You can notify your team on any work-related changes anytime, and as many times as is necessary. The good thing about FieldElite is that the information reaches all your engineers instantly and at the same time. Provided there?s strong network coverage, you’ll not have to deal with delayed communication. Again, your field techs can always get back to you in case they need clarifications on some matters.

Timely updates are very necessary for field service management. Field techs that get real-time updates tend to be more productive than those who get information late. At least they can make necessary changes on time to avoid wasting time on tasks that aren’t urgent. Therefore, make use of FieldElite communication features to keep your engineers updated.

Would you like to take your business to another level? Well, it’s time to improve communication with your field techs. Get the FieldElite android app for successful communication with your engineers.

Spreadsheet Woes – Ill-Equipped for an Agile Business Environment

These days, crucial business decisions have to be made in a split second. However, the quality of these decisions hinges quite often on timely, insightful information and relevant business reporting.

How effective is your business reporting solution in providing you with the information you need at the time you need it?

Chances are, like 75% of small and medium businesses, your company is using spreadsheets. True, spreadsheets are the most common go-to solutions for on-the-fly forecasting, but they may not be your best option for presenting information that require consolidation and in-depth analysis and involve a lot of number crunching, especially with critical data at stake.

Furthermore, spreadsheet-based reports are rarely produced in a timely manner. In today?s fast evolving business environment where flexibility, mobility, and timeliness are the order of the day, this simply won’t do.

Let’s take a look at the particular areas where spreadsheets fall short when it comes to providing dynamic and sound financial reports:

Collaboration

With rapidly changing market conditions, organisations have to conduct budgeting, forecasting, and planning more often. Hectic schedules and geographical distances aren’t a hindrance though, because technologies like the Internet, advanced telecommunications and mobile devices can put instantaneous collaboration at everyone?s fingertips.

But collaborative activities in a dynamic setting can only succeed if all participating individuals are given secure, real time and simultaneous access to the same relevant information. This way, every change made is automatically consolidated and projected unto the bigger picture for everyone to digest.

Alas, spreadsheets aren’t built for this.

Cost Efficiency

Whether we’re in a recession or not, cost efficiency has to be taken into consideration. Are spreadsheets really the cost-effective solution?

Think ?time is money?. With the length of time needed to prepare data, establish controls, consolidate reports and distribute copies, you’ll realise how expensive spreadsheets actually are.

The ability to innovate in a changing economic environment and limited resources – a valuable derivative of agile practices – can give your company a very significant advantage. But dedicating so much time on spreadsheet management can strip your organisation of room for innovation.

Quality of Reports

Business empires rise and fall on the power of relevant information. At the end of the day, top management should assess their sources of key performance reports, planning tools and budgeting applications using these parameters:

  • Does your financial reporting system give you the right information right when you need it?
  • Do the reports allow you to look beyond the numbers to spot trends or forecast changes in the market?
  • Do they furnish enough significant data for you to make informed decisions in good time?

Spreadsheets weren’t designed to analyse data on the enterprise level. As a result, spreadsheet reports often take far too long to prepare and more importantly, may lack the dimension and depth that are crucial in decision making.

Data Reliability

We’re all familiar with the risks associated with spreadsheets. This error-prone UDA can provide inaccurate information simply because of a broken link, an incomplete range, a deleted number, or an incorrect formula. In an active business scenario where data manipulation has to be done under constant time pressure, the risk probabilities escalate.

As they always say, ?If anything can go wrong, it will?. With spreadsheets, a lot of things could go wrong. Is this the kind of tool you?d like to work with when making fast, crucial decisions? If you’re still using spreadsheets, then you?d best forget about dynamic reports and rolling forecasts.

Inability to adapt to personnel turnover

A key challenge in maintaining the spreadsheet system is picking up where another left off. A user would find it difficult to debug, revise, or analyse a spreadsheet system he developed himself and the process becomes doubly complicated if or when another person takes over.

Starting from scratch is painfully counterproductive, so that a newcomer has to spend hours figuring out the original entries in the spreadsheet and the reports it yields.

While no one is indispensable in any organisation, it’s pretty much accurate to say that if a spreadsheet ?developer? leaves, it could momentarily halt the production of key finance reports. In a fast changing business landscape, such failure to monitor performance at critical times could sound the death knell for your company.

More Spreadsheet Blogs


Spreadsheet Risks in Banks


Top 10 Disadvantages of Spreadsheets


Disadvantages of Spreadsheets – obstacles to compliance in the Healthcare Industry


How Internal Auditors can win the War against Spreadsheet Fraud


Spreadsheet Reporting – No Room in your company in an age of Business Intelligence


Still looking for a Way to Consolidate Excel Spreadsheets?


Disadvantages of Spreadsheets


Spreadsheet woes – ill equipped for an Agile Business Environment


Spreadsheet Fraud


Spreadsheet Woes – Limited features for easy adoption of a control framework


Spreadsheet woes – Burden in SOX Compliance and other Regulations


Spreadsheet Risk Issues


Server Application Solutions – Don’t let Spreadsheets hold your Business back


Why Spreadsheets can send the pillars of Solvency II crashing down

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