When Technical Debt Comes Back To Bite

The government shows why your organization cannot risk falling behind on technology

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Historical Unemployment

Associated Costs

In traditional economic terms, when we think of a debt collapse, we’re aware that is a direct impact on the sector involved. What we overlook at times is that there is a ripple effect that reaches beyond the primary sector by a significant amount.

Direct Impacts

At the forefront, people directly impacted here are the unemployed who need their money to survive. They’re the customers that rely on the services that are built on top of this old system. They won’t get their money on time and many will struggle to make ends meet to no fault of their own. In addition, the other group that’s most affected is the staff who works for unemployment services. Going from thousands to millions of unhappy customers putting a strain on your system and phone lines won’t make for a very good time at work for the next several months.

Indirect Impacts

The outdated software system affects multiple external parties. Developers are constantly learning new technology, and every time they invest time in learning a new language or framework, there is an opportunity cost associated with that in case technology becomes deprecated. Unemployment services refusing to update their software forces developers to incur this opportunity cost to learn something they know is outdated and they’ll never use outside of this role.

How We Can Avoid This Going Forward

I know from experience that clearing technical debt is an organization wide effort. In a given quarter, there are many projects to juggle and push through. Being up to date on technology should be a quarterly priority.

Pulse Checks

This is not only beneficial to staying up to date in terms of where your teams stand on a technology basis, but also beneficial to understand how well your current tools are serving you. Is technology becoming a product or hiring road block? Which teams are using which tools? Are they using it correctly? Are we paying any extra licenses or paying for two different products that essentially do the same thing? The answers might surprise you when you spend time to explore them.

Technology Curious Values

We need to start instilling technological curiosity within companies that goes beyond product, engineering, and data teams. Start slack channels to explore different technological solutions that might tackle different problems. Share techniques or learning materials with non technical teams. Educate internally as much as possible. I’ve seen this be extremely effective with things as simple as sharing excel or google sheets tips to teaching people how to write simple SQL queries.

Writing about technology, business, and work culture. Subscribe to my casual daily newsletter at https://bryology.substack.com/

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