February 8, 2023
Why is addressing technical debt important? Most organizations know they have technical debt but are concerned with the cost of managing it, preferring to upgrade and customize older systems, further compounding technical debt rather than investing in new solutions with greater out-of-box, built-in capabilities. According to an opinion column in The New York Times, outdated software and technical debt were the main factors in Southwest Airlines’ flight cancelations over the 2022 holidays. The cost to Southwest Airlines is more than just money; the damage the outage caused to its reputation from angry customers can’t be measured. Reducing your technical debt can also help “recession-proof” your business.
Clearing technical debt is one way to ensure your organization maintains a competitive advantage to support business and customer needs and quickly adapt to change. Legacy systems are often retained due to the perception that change is difficult or risky. As an organization, you need to implement data-driven decision analysis by reviewing all financial data (replacement costs, incident and downtime costs of legacy systems, security risks, retraining, and evaluating alternative options, including outsourcing) to determine the total cost of ownership between keeping the old system versus upgrading. Even if the current TCO for modernizing is greater, the benefits realized from increased client satisfaction, making the delivery of your products and service more resilient to supply chain and market disruptions, and scalability may be a long-term payback.
Attracting and retaining IT talent continues to be frustrating for most organizations. Legacy systems are typically more labor intensive, requiring additional skill to support, maintain, secure, adapt, and integrate. In addition, many IT employees don’t want to work with old technology. IT employees value growth and opportunities, which are unavailable if you continue using legacy or outdated technology. Moving to easily configurable, modern platforms and solutions can make your organization faster, stronger, and leaner while providing more opportunities for your employees, all fostering innovation.
The latest solutions are being actively improved, patched, and updated to reduce cybersecurity risks, which can result in lowering your cyber insurance costs and reducing the risk of a breach. Legacy solutions that are no longer being developed or using old technologies are often much harder to update to comply with the latest standards.
The first step to reducing your technical debt is understanding the impact and prioritizing what needs fixing. An IT assessment can help you focus your resources and provide a roadmap to address critical items and reap the benefits of debt reduction.