The other day a colleague of mine shared this post and I just had to laugh.
Technical loan sharks? I love it! In theory, however, technical debt loan sharks are real.
Technical loan sharks are not the old school cigar-chewing gangsters you may be visualizing. But they’re just as insidious in terms of what they’re costing your organization. Before we dig into the concept of technical loan sharks, let me first define the phrase technical debt.
What Is Technical Debt?
Technical debt refers to the cumulative cost an organization incurs when it opts to maintain, rather than upgrade or replace, outdated hardware and software systems. The ramifications of technical debt can be profound, especially for large corporations. It’s a challenge that can lead to amplified expenditures, a dip in overall productivity, and a decline in competitive edge. There is no one, single factor but rather a convergence of issues, such as such as reliance on obsolete technologies, not prioritizing regular maintenance and upkeep, or just overlooking the issue altogether.
Addressing and managing technical debt is pivotal to the long-term health and success of your organization.
Technical debt is the result of conscious decisions hastily made in an attempt to solve an immediate headache but end up costing you. Let’s say you’re on deadline to deploy a new service but you’re at a standstill because one of your tools isn’t working right. You’re in a time crunch that forces you to tweak your outdated software so you can stay on track.
“We’ll work on the software issue when we have more time” – but that time never seems to come. The decision is postponed and postponed, and you end up on a hamster wheel of tweaks and patches that never ends. This is what I like to call “the tyranny of the immediate ” – where you spend all your time patching then hoping someday the underlying issues will be addressed.
How To Reduce The Risk of Technical Debt
First, knowledge of a problem inherently changes the nature of the problem. And this is where a successful ITAM turns everything around. ITAM’s mission is to present a clear picture of the total cost of ownership of all the hardware, software, and subscriptions used by your business. Part of that picture is to show where some of those assets might not be efficiently delivering value.
- You constantly are going offline for repair
- You have assets that no one uses
- Some assets are so old that you end up paying a premium for service
The good news is there are hidden opportunities to get ahead of these immediate cost impacts. The trick is finding them.
The Hidden Opportunities To Get Ahead Of Technical Debt
Identifying software installations that are not compliant and addressing them before you’re penalized in a software audit is the key. A good ITAM team will find them and compare feature sets and sales opportunities to reduce (maybe even eliminate!) the cost of replatforming from the old service to a new one. ITAM can even compare and contrast resale values for old equipment to help reduce the overall purchase price of new hardware.
When you know where in your organization the problems are occurring you can more easily address them in a strategic way. In my book, Rethinking Information Technology Asset Management, I describe exactly how to help your ITAM team gather the data necessary to root out the technical loan sharks that are costing you – and how to eliminate them.
How To Make Intelligent & Strategic Decisions That Reduce Technical Debt
At this very moment there’s a good change that technical debt is costing your organization time and money. It’s important to get a grip on what your users and your organization needs, so you can make diligent and strategic decisions to keep those nasty technical loan sharks away.
Consider developing an ITAM team or improving the team you have. The investment pays for itself over the long haul. ITAM will tell you where your assets are, how they’re being used, and expose the real cost of continuing to use what you already have instead of moving to upgrades or swapping for newer technologies.
Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment below.