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3 easy ways you can gauge the state of your technical debt

The best way to manage something is to track it, there's nothing magical about that. Athletes have been doing it for decades and I think IT people should do it too. Here's three ways you can use Insight to predict trouble before it comes knocking at your door.

Too many bugs

It's been 2 weeks that your team is focused on solving bugs. No matter how many get squashed, they just keep coming. Your team is getting demoralized and deep inside you feel like you should have seen it coming.

That's why the Bugs Over Time widget is so important. You see the evolution of your bug count for any moment in time. You get a clear picture of how many bugs got created and completed over time. You know when to spend more time on bugs before they become an epidemic.

The Story Type Breakdown is also super useful to see how many features gets planned versus chores and bugs. You get a nice breakdown of your feature, chore and bug count.

Your cycle time is going up

Your stories just keep taking longer to get done. Maybe your team's stories are too big, but that's rarely the case. A more common scenario is that the codebase gets bigger and more complicated. Your developers are complaining that it's very hard to build new features without introducing regressions.

You can use the Cycle Time widget to this figure one out. It shows you how long each story took to get from started to accepted. You can clearly see each state in the timeline and how long your stories stayed in those states. It becomes much easier to figure out which story is stalling, then you can find the why before too much time is wasted.

You can also use the Average Cycle Time widget which will give you a clear trend of how fast things are getting done over time. You want your cycle time to be as small as possible, it makes your iteration more predictable.

Code quality

One of the reasons you might have a technical debt is that your code became a mess over time. This usually happens when your organization gives more value to speed than quality.

I personally can't believe how writing clear code is still so undervalued today. Businesses are losing so much money over this.

Our Code Climate widget gives you a simple rating of the overall quality of your code. Code Climate does static analysis of your code base. It saves your developers time and ensure that bad code doesn't become a norm on your platform.

When you're not a programmer, seeing the code climate rating go down is an easy way to raise a red flag and engage a discussion with the developers.

To conclude

Technical debt is usually the main reason a project slows down. There's this idea in developer circles that it becomes inevitable over time.

Personally, I think it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy when the business does not recognize code and developer quality as a core value.

Thanks to Emanuel for reviewing this post