Quality Planning and Technical Debt

January 7, 2016
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Developing functionality of highest priority to the customer at first is one of the major principles of Scrum. This approach allows the Scrum team to focus keenly on the quality planning as they get the required time to categorize the essential functionality according to the customer’s requirements.

What is Technical debt?

The technical debt, which is also referred to as code debt or design debt, which refers to work that the Scrum teams prioritize lower, omits, or do not complete as they work toward creating the primary deliverable. Technical debt is a very big challenge with some traditional project management techniques where development, testing, documentation, etc. are done sequentially and often-times by different persons, with no one person being responsible for any particular Working Deliverable. As a result, technical debt accrues, leading to significantly higher maintenance, integration, and product release costs in the final stages of a project’s release.

Why does Technical debt occur?

The technical debt increases over time and must be paid in the future. Here are some of the key reasons for technical debt to occur:

  • Quick-fix and building deliverable that do not comply with standards for quality, security, long-term architecture goals, etc.
  • Lack of coordination among different team members, or if different Scrum Teams start working in isolation, with less focus on final integration of components required to make a project or program successful
  • Inadequate or incomplete testing
  • Poor sharing of business knowledge and process knowledge among the stakeholders and project teams
  • Improper or incomplete documentation
  • Too much focus on short-term project goals instead of the long-term objectives of the company. This oversight can result in poor-quality Working Deliverable that incur significant maintenance and upgrade costs.

How to control/reduce the Technical debt?

Quality planning has one of its important benefits in terms of reducing the Technical debt. In order to maintain a minimal amount of technical debt it is important to define the product required from a Sprint and the project along with the Acceptance Criteria, any development methods to be followed, and the key responsibilities of Scrum Team members in regards to quality. Any technical debt is not carried over beyond a Sprint, because there should be clearly defined Acceptance and Done Criteria. The Scrum Guidance Body may also include documentation and definition of processes which help in decreasing technical debt.

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