Lowering technical debt across your development team is often an uphill battle. Teams are constantly under pressure to deliver high-quality products on an ever-shrinking timeline while also working critical issues and ad-hoc requests into their already busy schedules.
Temporary workarounds and quick fixes are simply part of the job. But these short-term solutions can quickly develop into a long-term problem: a laundry list of backlog items that slow down your product lifecycles and put your bottom line at risk.
Unfortunately, most development teams don't have an established strategy for debt management, nor do they have the time to ideate and implement one independently. However, the key to debt control doesn't always have to come from an internal source.
Outsourced technology partners offer much-needed support across daily operations, with specialized talent resources, capacity management, process improvements, and more.
But many business leaders are discovering that these partners do more than deliver on short-term initiatives or one-off projects. They can also help significantly reduce technical debt, giving your team some breathing room and enabling more efficient product delivery.
This post highlights four ways outsourced technology partners help reduce technical debt and improve development processes for internal teams.
#1 Best Practice Adoption
Most developers will agree that technical debt is a necessary evil. They have a limited number of resources and hours in the day to deliver a product, no matter the variables or surprises along the way. As a result, they likely turn to shortcuts when working against a tight deadline or compensating for time-consuming debt consolidation from another initiative. And once these less-than-ideal habits take root across your department, they're tough to break.
When outsourced talent joins a project or software team, they have a rare opportunity to wipe that slate clean and (re)introduce best practices into your workflows and processes. They can offer new perspectives and align your technology teams with one another and your overarching business goals through transparent, streamlined procedures and protocols designed to minimize technical debt and keep the backlog clean without compromising on product delivery.
#2 Planning and Coding Expectations
It's doubtful that your software team looks the same today as it did five years or even one year ago. As your organization has grown, experienced employee turnover, or shifted focus into new markets or service areas, your team has also likely evolved. While this means you've added new talent to your bench, it also means each new employee has introduced a personal nuance or two into their working processes.
When you bring in outside talent, they can help establish clear expectations, guidelines, and standards to lean on throughout each sprint, such as:
When and how teams gather project requirements
How to write effective user stories
The process, and consequences, for adding new requirements mid-sprint
How to navigate patches and upgrades in tandem with ongoing projects
The planning phase is also the perfect time to address code hygiene so internal and outsourced staff can maintain accuracy throughout each project. Outsourced talent can help your teams define things like standard naming conventions and code commenting rules. These newly introduced standards will ideally stay in place long after the current project, giving your internal staff a clear roadmap for how to develop and implement code without incurring loads of debt, even when a surprise pops up.
#3 End-to-End Knowledge Retention
It's easy to imagine a clear line in the sand between your internal development teams and a bench of external resources. You may wonder how well each new employee truly understands your business. Plus, frequent turnover can increase your technical debt as new staff members spend time ramping up or even throw a wrench in your systems by introducing a brand new process instead of collaborating with your staff.
However, the right outsourced technology partner shouldn't simply serve as a churn-and-burn staff augmentation supplier, pulling random resources in and out of projects with no context.
Instead, your partner should provide a foundational team of their top talent to guide you through each project and help shift priorities as your needs change. This core team will take the time to dive deep into your existing processes and strategic business goals. They'll align with your leadership staff and development teams alike, introducing new processes and offering valuable recommendations throughout your engagement.
The best part? They'll carry robust institutional knowledge with them every step of the way. Each time a new team member joins the project, they'll work with your core contacts to ramp up and integrate seamlessly without adding more work to your staff's plate or draining your technology budget on rigorous internal training projects.
#4 Debt Reversal Projects
A dedicated reversal project is perhaps the most obvious way an outsourced technology partner can help you reduce technical debt.
Unlike internal team members who often divide their attention between critical priorities – like an upcoming product launch – with 'nice to have' ones, like debt remediation – your outsourced partners can give their full attention to debt reversal. Expert programmers and technologists can do a deep dive into your network: scouring your legacy systems, code repositories, and projects to resolve errors and inefficiencies.
Debt reversal projects are an ideal approach to tackling technical debt with little to no internal delays since outsourced teams can work in the background without disrupting your day-to-day operations.
While there's no quick-fix solution to technical debt, the right technology partner can help your teams establish a proactive strategy to manage it over time.
Looking for more ways to get control over your technical debt?
The free checklist, 10 Ways to Reduce Technical Debt, highlights proactive strategies and internal improvements that can help you fight back against a daunting backlog.
Learn more about how delaPlex can help you? Contact us today to start the conversation.