The Introduction of Technical Debt Tracking in Large Companies - A Survey and Multiple Case-Study
Paper in proceeding, 2016

Large software companies need to support continuous and fast delivery of customer value both in the short and long term. However, this can be hindered if both the evolution and maintenance of existing systems are hampered by what has been recently called Technical Debt. Although a lot of theoretical work on Technical Debt has been recently produced, its practical management lacks empirical studies. In this paper we investigate the state of practice in several companies in order to understand how they start tracking Technical Debt. We combined different methodologies: we conducted a survey, involving 226 respondents from 15 organizations and a more in-depth multiple case-study in three organizations, where Technical Debt was tracked: we involved 13 interviews and 79 Technical Debt issues analysis. We found that the development time dedicated to manage Technical Debt is substantial (around 25%) but not systematic: only a few participants currently track Technical Debt. By studying the early approaches in the companies participating in the case-study, we understood how companies start tracking Technical Debt and what are the initial benefits and challenges. Finally, we propose a Strategic Adoption Model based to define and adopt a dedicated process for tracking Technical Debt.

multiple case-study

software process improvement

Technical Debt

change management



Antonio Martini

Chalmers, Computer Science and Engineering (Chalmers), Software Engineering (Chalmers)

Terese Besker

Chalmers, Computer Science and Engineering (Chalmers), Software Engineering (Chalmers)

Jan Bosch

Chalmers, Computer Science and Engineering (Chalmers), Software Engineering (Chalmers)

2016 23rd Asia-Pacific Software Engineering Conference (APSEC)

Subject Categories

Computer and Information Science

Software Engineering

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