Chapter 8. Technical Debt

In this chapter I discuss the concept of technical debt. I begin by defining technical debt, which encompasses naive debt, unavoidable debt, and deliberate debt. Next I examine some common causes of technical debt and the consequences of accruing high levels of debt. I then describe three activities associated with technical debt: managing the accrual of technical debt, making technical debt visible, and servicing technical debt. I specifically emphasize how to apply these activities when using Scrum.


Ward Cunningham was the first to write about the concept of technical debt (Cunningham 1992). He defined it as follows:

Shipping first time code is like going into debt. A little debt speeds development so long ...

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