What is Technical Debt in Scrum?

by StarAgile

November 25, 2020
Category Agile and Scrum


What is Technical Debt in Scrum

Scrum is an agile methodology based on increments and the number of iteration to produce a product that meets customer expectations. The scrum project is divided into number iterations called a sprint. Each of the sprints consists of several tasks. These three columns in scrum methods are as follows, Product backlog, Sprint Backlog, and Work Done columns.

The product backlog consists of user stories and epics that are sequenced and prioritized. The epic is a large item of customer requirement. A user story is the smallest undivided part of the customer requirements which then moves to sprint backlog to form tasks. The sprint backlog consists of many tasks that are called a single sprint. 

There are more than 2 sprints for the development of any products. The work done column consists of tasks that are completed as per the definition of done. The work moves from left to right. Sprint planning and project planning are done before the sprint is started. The scrum has many tools to enable the product owner, scrum master, and the scrum team to successfully finish the project. In this article, we will discuss what is technical debt in scrum. You can learn more about technical debt by attending the Scrum master certification online course at StarAgile.  Now that you have understood what is scrum let us go directly to the topic.

What is Technical Debt in Scrum?

Technical debts are the part of requirements that are omitted, not done, or are at a lower priority and low importance. It is also the cost of rework that is caused in the requirements due to omission or ignoring or made due to first doing the easy solution to the customer instead of doing a long term robust solution. The technical debt is illustrated in the diagram below,


Source: planetgeek

The technical debt is beneficial in the short run but may have to heavy expenses in the long run. The technical debt is created when the development team does and tries to solve the problem of today. The development team may consider a different solution that has been done a year back or the technical team introduces the rework with a modified definition of done.

Scrum with Technical debt

  • To promote value addition by the development team is the first duty of the product owner.
  • The above duty is done by the product owner by managing the product backlog and introduces the backlog items with the help of the scrum master.
  • The quality is not compromised by the technical team.
  • The engineering team or the development team defines done.
  • The product owner does the sprint planning long with the scrum team before each sprint commences 
  • The product owner ensures that the product backlog items and sprint backlog are discussed during the scrum planning meeting
  • The development team ensures that the sprint goals are achieved by doing the work on the sprint backlogs.
  • The product backlog items are added to the sprint backlog by the development team
  • If the development team enhances the definition of done then the rework on the former sprints are necessary

Dealing with the technical debt by the development team

  • The current technical debt is made aware of the scrum team and constantly reminded. The visualization of technical debt in the code base is discussed constantly.
  • Ensure that the technical debt is tracked by using various tools such as code average, rule violations, cyclomatic complexity, and SQALE-rating, etc. At the minimum count the bugs 
  • Identify and correct the technical debt on every sprint and allocate 20 % of development team activities on demonstrations and bug fixing.
  • Ensure that technical debt is factored in all the tasks of the product backlog and then in the sprint backlog
  • The definition of done is modified and includes the technical debt in manageable levels
  • Create a Standard operating procedure to handle research that may cause a temporary technical debt to enable learning the project.

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Reasons for Technical Debt in a Scrum

The reasons for the technical debts are as follows,

The technical debt accrues in the project in almost all the software development projects and every organization. The reason is that without technical debt the software development may take up more time and it is not possible to complete the projects with all the low-level items and features that customer has requested in the budget and in the given timeframe. The technical debt occurs when the development team needs to forgo certain work such as writing concise documentation, writing clean and perfect code, improve the security to the highest level possible and building clean data sources, etc.

At some point, the technical debt needs to pay down. However, there needs to be a balance too much technical code is a terrible problem. The technical debt happens when the project leader emphasizes too much on the time and cost.

For example - A company gets the new application to be developed. It may take up to 6 months regularly with normal resources. However, the product management team must ship it in 3 months. So the development team must cut short the best UI/UX design and make an easy and simple UI/UX design. And another thing that can be cut short the parts like error handling, automated tests, and scale up vertically instead of horizontally, etc. Grow as a scrum master in the project management with Scrum certification training at StarAgile.

How to Maintain a Minimal Amount of Technical Debt 

The technical debt can be minimized in the following ways,

  • Developers must take responsibility
  • Planning at every stage of the sprint
  • Including the technical debt items in the product backlog
  • Make us of the metrics to identify and quantify the technical debt
  • Ensure transparency of the technical debt in the product backlog
  • Ensure balance in the short term goals
  • Ensure you have long term goals for the technical debt in any projects
  • Make the technical debt visible to all the stakeholders
  • Constantly strive for perfection
  • Ensure the technical debt is highlighted to the customers
  • Ensure approval and agreement with the technical debt with the customers

Conclusion - Learn more about what is Tech Debt in Scrum 

Now you have a brief idea on the scrum ensure that you read similar articles on scrum. If you are interested you can take up the CSM Certification Online training with the StarAgile institute. StarAgile is the training partner for conducting Scrum master certification online course with Scrum Alliance Inc. You can learn all about scrum in the training at StarAgile that has excellent training consultants who have excellent industrial experience and are themselves certified in the scrum. Do not miss this chance! What are you waiting for? Register now and grow in your organization as a scrum master.