Feb 28, 2020

Tech debt is a giant problem for developers

Tech debt

CodeAhoy, a popular developer blog, asked its community to share their experience with tech debt and its impact on software development. Developers revealed that tech debt is a growing problem that receives too little attention by most engineering teams.

Most teams have lots of tech debt. A majority of developers—about 68%—said they worked on products with high or very high amounts of tech debt.

A mere 5% of developers said their product had low amounts of tech debt. Not a single developer said their codebase contains no tech debt.

It makes developers want to quit. While tech debt can impede development velocity and release frequency, it also has a serious negative impact on developer morale and retention. According to the survey, 50% of developers said they were likely or very likely to leave their jobs because of tech debt.

Who’s at fault? Most developers blame management for ballooning tech debt. A full 80% of developers believed their managers were aware of their tech debt problem, but either didn’t care or didn’t have a plan to fix it. Just 16% of developers felt that management was actually working to pay off tech debt.

Zoom out: For many engineering teams, tech debt can constrain both financial and developer resources. By some estimates, developers spend 13.5 hours managing technical debt and 3.8 hours dealing with bad code every single week—which equates to a nearly $300B loss in global annual GDP.

For technology companies—and the developers that power them—tech debt is a worsening problem, but one that seems unlikely to be solved soon.

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