Fabio Pereira uses this method to help teams quickly prioritise tech debt. In this example, the team held a Tech Debt retro where they brainstormed all the technical debt they thought they had accrued since the start of the project.
“Technical Debt” is postponed work created when a team takes some technical shortcuts in order to get a solution out fast. These shortcuts create a “debt which must be paid back later. It’s often hard to know where to start on addressing this “debt”.
The team then classified the debt on two axes this way:
“The relative effort that the team would have to spend in order to pay this debt.“
“Pain is the direct impact on productivity that this debt causes. (interest)”
This made it easy for them to decide what to tackle first. “Lets start on the high value work which takes the least effort”!
Fabio says: “One interesting thing that came out of our retro was that the High Return section was almost empty. We came to the conclusion that this was a good sign, it means that we had already fixed most of the LowEffort/HighPain debt during the normal development. Which is exactly how this type of debt should be paid.”