November 29, 2012

The Value of Paying Down Technical Debt

The Value of Paying Down Technical Debt Our Engineering team has a great term called Technical Debt, which is the accumulation of coding shortcuts and operational inefficiencies over the years in the name of getting product out the door faster that weighs on the company’s code base like debt weighs on a balance sheet.  Like debt, it’s there, you can live with it, but it is a drag on the health of the technology organization and has hard servicing costs.  It’s never fun to pay down technical debt, which takes time away from developing new products and new features and is not really appreciated by anyone outside the engineering organization. That last point is a mistake, and I can’t encourage CEOs or any leaders within a business strongly enough to view it the opposite way.  Debt may not be fun to pay off, but boy do you feel better after it’s done.  I attended an Engineering all-hands recently where one team presented its work for the past quarter.  For one of our more debt-laden features, this team quietly worked away at code revisions for a few months and drove down operational alerts by over 50% — and more important, drove […]

June 28, 2012

How Many Thermometers Do You Need to Know the Turkey’s Done?

How Many Thermometers Do You Need to Know the Turkey’s Done? Full credit to my colleague Jack Abbot for using this awesome phrase in an Engineering Management meeting I observed recently. It’s a gem. Filed!  The context was around spending extra cycles creating more metrics that basically measure the same thing. And in theory, sure, you don’t want or need to do that, even if you do have a cool data visualization tool that encourages metric proliferation. But as I was thinking about it a bit more, I think there are situations where you might want multiple thermometers to tell […]