Software Developer Productivity Loss Due to Technical Debt - A replication and extension study examining developers’ development work
Journal article, 2019
Software companies need to deliver customer value continuously, both from a short- and long-term perspective. However, software development can be impeded by technical debt (TD). Although significant theoretical work has been undertaken to describe the negative effects of TD, little empirical evidence exists on how much wasted time and additional activities TD causes. The study aims to explore the consequences of TD in terms of wastage of development time. This study investigates on which activities this wasted time is spent and whether different TD types impact the wasted time differently. This study reports the results of a longitudinal study surveying 43 developers and including16 interviews followed by validation by an additional study using a different and independent dataset and focused on replicating the findings addressing the findings. The analysis of the reported wasted time revealed that developers waste, on average, 23% of their time due to TD and that developers are frequently forced to introduce new TD. The most common activity on which additional time is spent is performing additional testing. The study provides evidence that TD hinders developers by causing an excessive waste of working time, where the wasted time negatively affects productivity.
Wasted Development Time