Debt happens. Financial debt happens because we want what we want and we want it now, even if we can’t afford it now. Technical debt happens for similar reasons. A client is having trouble with one of our features. We offer a work around to get them up and running again, planning to address the problem more thoroughly at a later date. Or we want to deliver some new functionality. Time is of the essence so we take the expedited path rather than a more correct one. We’ll build a better architecture later.
As those postponed tasks pile up, they charge their own particular form of interest. Our infrastructure becomes more unwieldy. Work arounds get built on top of work arounds. It’s harder to see what’s going on, much less to fix it. And all those delays mean that when you do get around to fixing things, it will be a lot harder. Debt is indeed a fitting metaphor.
Pay Down Your Technical Debt by Optimizing Jira
Just like getting out of financial debt, paying off technical debt requires effort and commitment. Authors of the DevOps Handbook recommend dedicated no less than 20% of Development and Operations cycles to this work.
But where is that extra to come from? We work in an industry that places an almost irrational value on speed. Development teams are pressured to turn out new functionality and fancy features. Operations teams can’t step away from their work because their work impacts everyone else’s ability. The show must go on.
Removing communication delays is one way to streamline your processes and free up team member’s time. How much time gets wasted going back and forth trying to get the right information? Customers place urgent requests, but forget to give us the details we need to resolve their problems. Stakeholders request new features, but what are the parameters?
Here’s where a tried and true solution can help. Nothing is as good for collecting specific pieces of data as a form. Forms are familiar and easy for users to understand. Forms allow agents to make it clear what information they need and what format they need it in. Online forms go a step farther by using validation to compel users to submit the right data. Getting the right information in the first place, structured the way you want it, means a lot less time is spent waiting for further details or clarifications on requests. That’s time that you can commit to other things - like improved architecture, refactoring and deploying automation.
There are several options for attaching forms to Jira issues. In contrast to solutions that require complex, third party integrations, the ProForma app lets you add forms to issues or request types from right within Jira. Teams can develop and deploy forms that collect exactly the information they need, in whatever level of detail needed, without the administrative nightmare or performance degradation that can happen when you have too many custom fields. Processes become more streamlined. Things get done quickly and accurately, freeing you to focus on other things - like all those tasks that were postponed in favor of fast work arounds.
Even with streamlined processes, paying down technical debt requires sustained commitment. There will always be competing priorities, pressure to do what is urgent rather than what is important. But time savings on processing small items can be direct towards big items, reducing your debt and resulting overall design.