Executive Cheat Sheet Quick-Start Technical Debt Assessment
The Real Costs of Technical Debt
Operational Complexity This is measured by the amount of difficulty you currently face in making your system operate as expected. The greater the difficulty, the more complexity in your system.
Support Complexity This is measured by your ability to respond to daily problems. Even if a system is operating successfully, it will need continued care to ensure users can use it as designed.
Complexity Factor The interest that technical debt incurs shows up in the form of complexity. The more complex your systems, the higher your interest rate.
Functional and Usage Complexity
Integration and Technology Complexity This is measured by the maturity and consistency of your solutions’ architecture. No system exists in isolation. Eventually, they will need to comunicate with other systems to support a larger value chain.
This is measured by your system’s ease of use. Even the best system will not perform well if users face tremendous difficulty using it or if its functions do not meet actual business needs.
Complexity Factor Matrix Technical Debt Assessment Continuum and Attributes
Thoroughly defined architecture
Well-defined architectural standards
Architectural standards exist
Ad-hoc or dated architectural standards
Poorly defined architecture or one created as part of a project life cycle
Future-state architecture plans refreshed annually
Future-state architecture plans in place
Evidence of some future-state architecture
Ad-hoc future-state architecture planning
Future-state architecture plans absent
Waiver limits established and enforced
Waivers formally reviewed
No waiver management
No waiver management
SLAs typically exceeded SLA adherence
SLAs generally met
Constant SLA exceptions
Poor SLA adherence
Consistent, rapid delivery of new functionality
Most often timely delivery of new functionality
Reasonable delivery of new functionality
Ad-hoc delivery of new functionaliy
Consistently missing delivery targets
The Complexity Factor (CF) self-assessment in the following section is designed to be applied to any area or function. While it provides a very high-level analysis, the results will allow you to determine whether there’s a need to engage outside help to do a deeper dive.
Use the resulting CF score and refer to the table above to see where you stand.
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