Modernizing applications: the importance of reducing technical debt

Technical debt is no longer just a “technical” problem. As recent, widely publicized events have shown, it is a business problem that can have serious consequences for organizations. The government and Congress are taking notice of unfair consumer experiences, and it is crucial for businesses to address their technical debt and minimize the risk of negative press, government fines, and damaged reputations.

What is technical debt?

Technical debt can be defined as the accumulation of legacy systems and applications that are difficult to maintain and support, as well as poorly written or hastily implemented code that increases risk over time. These technical challenges can significantly impact the performance and stability of critical operations, and it is essential that these be addressed before they cause damage to your organization. By listening to the voice of customers, employees, and other users, businesses can identify potential technical debt early and prioritize their modernization efforts.

Addressing technical debt can be challenging, especially for overworked and understaffed IT teams who are tasked with maintaining aging systems while also learning new development frameworks, languages, and techniques. Band-aid fixes may be easy to implement, but they can be difficult to maintain in the long term and often do not adhere to industry best practices. Prioritizing old fixes can feel like a waste of time to the technical team if things are working now, especially when they may be understaffed and overwhelmed with current workloads. The need to learn new systems while keeping the old systems up and running smoothly can generate staffing issues, as the IT team is tasked with simultaneously maintaining aging systems and learning new techniques.

The warning signs of technical debt are clear. Employees may complain that the technology they use is cumbersome and time-consuming, ultimately hindering their job performance. Customers may describe applications as clunky, buggy, and outdated. If these complaints sound familiar, then it is time to act and reduce technical debt.

How to break free

There are several options that companies can consider before getting started with reducing their technical debt:

Perform a short code review to provide a comprehensive overview of the level of risk and identify critical issues that need to be addressed.

One of the key components of reducing technical debt is to have a clear understanding of the underlying issues and challenges within one or many applications. This can involve a comprehensive analysis of the current technology infrastructure, identifying systems and processes that are causing the most pain and need to be addressed first. A code review process can provide valuable insights into technical debt, including identifying code that is outdated, poorly written, or difficult to maintain. This information can help prioritize the modernization efforts, ensuring that the most critical issues are addressed first.

Conduct an application modernization quick start workshop to develop a roadmap of modernization efforts, outlining the steps needed to improve the technology infrastructure.

An application modernization quick start workshop can help organizations take the first steps towards reducing their technical debt. A workshop can provide a roadmap for modernization efforts, including the development of a detailed plan outlining the steps required to improve the technology infrastructure. The workshop can also provide valuable insights into the modernization process, including best practices for modernizing legacy systems, optimizing application performance, and improving the customer and employee experience.

Develop an application modernization program to manage the intake process, governance, technical architecture, DevOps, and end-to-end development, reducing risk, accommodating change, and delivering better customer and employee experiences.

An application modernization program can provide a comprehensive solution to reducing technical debt. This program can manage the intake process, governance, technical architecture, DevOps, and end-to-end development, reducing risk, accommodating change, and that deliver better customer and employee experiences.

At Protiviti, we are dedicated to helping organizations navigate their application modernization journeys and achieve success in improving user experiences and reducing technical debt and business risks. Our team of experts understands each organization’s unique needs and provides tailored solutions to ensure the success of modernization efforts. We help companies take the first step towards reducing technical debt and improving both technology infrastructure and brand with modern applications that are intelligent, engaging, and easy to use.

Learn more about Protiviti’s Innovation vs. Technical Debt Tug of War survey results.

Connect with the Authors

Amanda Downs
Managing Director, Technology Consulting

Alina Zamorskaya
Senior Manager, Technology Consulting

Digital Transformation