Some folks have told me in their agile projects that they are able to deal with technical debt as they find it. They are a lucky few. But more have been stumped: “I find something. I really can’t fix it now. But I don’t know what to do with it.” I’ve suggested putting it on the backlog, which of course, incurs a context switch when you’re finally ready to deal with it. But, the debt is visible. And you can size it. And schedule it.
Arnon thinks the backlog is the right place to deal with technical debt, too. In Make technical debt explicit, he says
- It will not be forgotten
- It will not be hidden
- It will be managed
The transparency the backlog provides is critical for making good decisions about the product and the project. Technical debt needs to be as visible as everything else. Maybe more so, because the more debt you have, the slower any future development will be.