Carrot and Stick approaches when managing Technical Debt
Paper in proceedings, 2020
When developing software, it is vitally important to keep the level of technical debt down since it is well established from several studies that technical debt can, e.g., lower the development productivity, decrease the developers’ morale, and compromise the overall quality of the software. However, even if researchers and practitioners working in today's software development industry are quite familiar with the concept of technical debt and its related negative consequences, there has been no empirical research focusing specifically on how software managers actively communicate and manage the need to keep the level of technical debt as low as possible.
This paper aims to explore how software companies encourage and reward practitioners for actively keeping the level of technical debt down and also whether the companies use any forcing or penalizing initiatives when managing technical debt.
This paper reports the results of both an online web-survey provided quantitative data from 258 participants and follow-up interviews with 32 industrial software practitioners. The findings show that having a TD management strategy can significantly impact the amount of TD in the software. When surveying how commonly used different TD management strategies are, we found that only the encouraging strategy is, to some extent, adopted in today's’ software industry. This study also provides a model describing the four assessed strategies by presenting its strategies and tactics, together with recommendations on how they could be operationalized in today’s software companies.
Software Incentive programs