ShiftZen Technologies

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Technical Debt Good Buzzword Bad Practice

The technical industry is littered with buzzwords. Probably the most overused is 'cloud'. What cloud indicates is a program that is in the sky and can be accessed through a browser. Like Gmail, Hotmail, Salesforce and your favorite restaurant scheduling solution, ShiftZen! It gets old though, because as you see, the cloud isn't new, its just a new advertising term. We try not to use it, but sometimes Google seems to want to see stuff like that on a webpage so who knows, maybe it will slip on. One term that is also becoming used heavily that I like however is 'technical debt'. Technical debt is just like credit card debt. With credit cards you don't have the money, plan on having the money later or simply have no choice but to borrow in order to fill your needs for today. With the computing industry, technical debt is when a programmer knows they are doing something 'hacky' in order to make a customer or boss happy but secretly they know they've created a future task. If enough of these future tasks are left undone, and that person leaves, then what! All of a sudden you have a program rife with quick fixes that make it impossible to add great new features and there is a ton of work needed on an otherwise perfectly running program (on the surface).  Correct usage of debt/leveraging is an acceptable form of doing business and living (much to the chagrin of those lending at 18-25%, but more on that another time). If you use credit cards to start a restaurant and the restaurant is wildly successful, you are in great shape. If you use it frivolously and it doesn't improve the bottom line, oops. Could be trouble. Same thing with programming. So hopefully you recognize the potential pitfalls of debt in your organization. If you really don't need it or can't spend the time to do it right, don't do it! If you do, you may leave your future self in peril! We here at ShiftZen are very cognizant of this and look at the future of our customers with every request we work on. We avoid quick fixes like the plague and work on a solid foundation every day.