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August 18, 2021 4 min read

How to Transform Technical Debt into Toast


This blog written by OutSystems discusses how easy it is to accumulate technical debt, and methods to get out of it faster.

As the global business environment edges toward real-time, technical debt looms over developers like a dark cloud. They know it’s there, but day-to-day work gets in the way. Over time, technical debt accumulates. And the more it accumulates, the harder it is to pay back.

CIOs are frustrated because every year, they’re expected to accomplish more with the same or fewer resources. Developers would avoid rework all together if they could because it’s a lot less interesting than building new features and products.

On a higher level, technical debt negatively impacts the bottom line because innovation suffers and it’s harder to implement new technologies.

In fact, the totality of circumstances is causing more software teams to embrace low-code, so they can move faster without sacrificing quality.

Speed Development

Let's face it. Not every line of code needs to be hand-coded, and it isn’t. Today’s developers are incorporating more open-source and commercial software into their applications than at any other time in history because it makes no sense to build something from scratch that already exists, especially when it isn’t an organization’s core competency. From a cost-benefit perspective, it makes more sense to focus on the custom code that will differentiate a product, service, or brand.

A similar analysis holds up for low-code. What is and isn’t necessary to hand-code? The answer tends to boil down to the level of customization necessary and the capability of the platform. Applications built with OutSystems are typically about 90% low-code and 10% custom code.

Organizations adopting low-code are doing so to deliver value faster to customers. Some of them are mandating low-code use. Others are making it optional. However, the optional projects tend to be the new products, the fun challenges, the ones that tend to positively impact the trajectory of one’s career.

With OutSystems, organizations can speed development without taking shortcuts that will haunt their teams later. The productivity gains enable them to:

  • Reduce the amount of technical debt and its associated costs
  • Prevent technical debt from accruing in the first place
  • Spend more time innovating

Reducing and Preventing Technical Debt

Reducing technical debt saves money and frustration. Using OutSystems, developers are paying down all kinds of technical debt to the point where little, if any remains. Moreover, they’re preventing technical debt from accruing in the first place.

Avoiding coding-related technical debt is easy with OutSystems because best practices are built into the platform. In addition, resources are easy to connect to which avoids infrastructure-related technical debt.

What's more, OutSystems is technology-agnostic, so as languages and infrastructure paradigms change over time, there’s no need to rewrite applications. They're "future-proof" by default which avoids technical debt caused by aging and outdated technology.

Spend More Time Innovating

Focusing on the future is a lot more fun than repenting for sins. When developers can build features and applications faster, they have more time to pay down technical debt, address product backlog items, and do what they love most: innovate.

Using low-code, developers are building applications, prototypes, and minimum viable products (MVPs) faster than ever before. When low-code becomes the new normal, teams achieve a faster cadence and a cultural shift begins to happen. They start adopting a culture of experimentation that encourages and rewards ideation and hypothesis testing. The faster feedback results in products that are better aligned with what users really want, which translates to competitive advantage.

Interestingly, companies that have existed for decades or more than a century are adopting experimentation cultures out of necessity due to industry disruption. Instead of making failure unacceptable, which, in turn, causes employees to hide their mistakes, those organizations now consider fast failure part of the cost of innovation (with the caveat that employees learn from their own mistakes and don’t repeat them).

In addition, some organizations are pushing an ethos of innovation and ingenuity out to the edge, giving citizen developers the chance to create prototypes, MVPs, and even production applications. When the same platform is used for professional development and citizen development, there can be a seamless handoff from the creator of the original work to a professional who knows how to scale it, secure it, and otherwise transform it into an enterprise-grade application. There’s no need for developers to rewrite the application. They can simply pick up where the original creator left off.

Bottom Line

The best way to tackle technical debt is to avoid creating it in the first place, but that's not where most organizations start. Most organizations have seen the volume of their technical debt grow over time and they’re not entirely sure how to manage it effectively.

Using OutSystems, organizations can accelerate all forms of development simultaneously, from the most mundane work to the most exciting. They’re able to repay technical debt faster and avoid creating it in the first place which means less time spent coding through the rear-view mirror and more time spent building the future.

If you'd like to find out more about what makes our partner OutSystems' a leader in the industry, don't hesitate to get in touch.