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The Balance of Reducing Technical Debt and Innovation

Posted by Martin Bakal, OpenLegacy Product Marketing on March 16, 2022

One question we are often asked: How can you help me reduce my technical debt?

image Really what these enterprises are worried about is a lack of innovation and flexibility. They can’t build and deploy new services for their customers quickly enough. These enterprises then wonder why and look at their development efforts. They realize this isn’t due to a lack of development talent or training. It simply is because they can’t allocate resources to new projects. Everyone is too busy supporting existing workflows.

Overall this adds to an enterprise’s total cost of ownership (TCO).

TCO is a major impetus for many enterprises. They are frustrated with having to embed new systems into their architecture that cost time and money. These systems also add to technical debt. Plus, while waiting for the digital transformation to occur, companies have trouble innovating. Their resources are tied up, and the assets aren’t available to them.

End users get frustrated by the lack of new functionality and frequently decide to leave to a born in the cloud competitor. The innovative features are no longer nice to have but instead, a must have. Everyone expects real-time access to their accounts and data from their phones.

What companies need is a better way to reduce technical debt while innovating. But how do you do that? Here are three powerful yet simple concepts we believe you can put into practice today:

  • Take a cloud first approach
  • Empower their digital teams
  • Get results quickly and easily

Take a Cloud first approach

To innovate, enterprises need to produce results and value quickly. This is why DevOps and other cloud first paradigms are so popular. But enterprises with legacy systems frequently get stuck waiting for the legacy teams to make assets available. The legacy teams are working hard while at the same time are being asked to do too much busywork like translation layers. All of this increases the technical debt rather than decreasing it.

Companies instead need to focus on the requirements to automate the access to legacy data. Access to the legacy data needs to be readily available in a repository. This unburdens the legacy team. The assets created also need to be cloud-native services. This way they will be easily accessible by the larger digital teams.

Empower digital teams

Digital teams need enablement to make a difference. This means they aren’t searching for assets that will hopefully solve a problem or trying to figure out what low-level APIs actually do. They need easy access to generated modules that represent legacy logic and data so they can design the services requested by the business.

Teams feel empowered when they can take a design first approach. This means designing the services first and then adding in access to existing data and logic you need. It has the advantage for you to test your design and ensure it meets the requirements as you go.

But design first only works when you can guarantee the assets will be available as you need them. Otherwise, the approach gets bogged down.

Get results quickly and easily

To grow a business, enterprises need to deliver results quickly and easily. The market is hyper competitive. The only way to do this is to simplify the tasks down to what is needed and automate the rest.

This allows the team to innovate and build what is needed to keep the business running while learning and adapting as needed.

Connecting the three tenets to reducing technical debt

By building what the business needs more quickly and cleanly, the teams will get a better assessment of what needs to migrate first. You also will have a leg up since the new systems are cloud-native. Switching where a microservice accesses its data is easy as long as you didn’t build all of the logic into legacy systems you need to unwind again.

This approach allows companies to “have their cake and eat it too”. You satisfy the immediate need while planning for the future.

Please take a look at our paper about “Reducing your reliance on Tibco”. Tibco is a popular middleware that increases the complexity and TCO of many enterprises.

Topics: contract-first