Investigating the Relationship between Technical Debt Management and Software Development Issues




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Berenguer, Clara
Borges, Adriano
Freire, Sávio
Rios, Nicolli
Ramač, Robert
Taušan, Nebojša
Pérez, Boris
Castellanos, Camilo
Correal, Darío
Pacheco Hernández, Alexia

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Context: The presence of technical debt (TD) brings risks to software projects. Managers must continuously find a cost-benefit balance between the benefits of incurring in TD and the costs of its presence in a software project. Much attention has been given to TD related to coding issues, but other types of debt can also have impactful consequences on projects. Aims: This paper seeks to elaborate on the growing need to expand TD research to other areas of software development, by analyzing six elements related to TD management, namely: causes, effects, preventive practices, reasons for non-prevention, repayment practices, and reasons for non-repayment of TD. Method: We survey and analyze, quantitatively and qualitatively, the answers of 653 software industry practitioners on TD to investigate how the previously mentioned elements are related to coding and non-coding issues of the software development process. Results: Coding issues are commonly related to the investigated elements but, indeed, they are only part of the TD Management stage. Issues related to the project planning and management, human factors, knowledge, quality, process, requirements, verification, validation, and test, design, architecture, and the organization are also common sources of TD. We organize the results in a hump diagram and specialize it considering the point of view of practitioners that have used agile, hybrid, and traditional process models in their projects. Conclusion: The hump diagram, in combination with the detailed results, provides guidance on what to expect from the presence of TD and how to react to it considering several issues of software development. The results shed light on TD management of software elements, beyond source code related artifacts.


Palabras clave

Technical debt (TD), Technical debt management, Causes of technical debt, Effects of technical debt, Process model