Technical Debt – What It Is and How It Impacts Your Budget

A white porcelain "piggy bank" under water.

Jul 12, 2023 by Leah Weisman

It’s summer break up here in the United States, and most of us are taking some time off to hang with our kids or go on a trip. Well, enjoy it…budgeting season is seriously around the corner, and knowing how your technical debt plays a role in your budget is becoming increasingly important.

Did you groan?

Yeah, we all did too. It’s the perfect combination of intense planning ahead and guesswork (elegant or not) and then tons of math, data entry, and negotiation. It’s boring, it’s hard, and it takes a long time!

Before you sharpen your pencils and make your beautiful budgetary requests for IT, I want to present to you a term and issue that should loom large over your plans: technical debt.

What Is Technical Debt?

At the highest level, technical debt is all the time, money, and effort you need to sink into upgrading or enhancing your IT functions, as well as the loss of efficiency and opportunity these outdated systems can be actively causing you. The longer you go without replacing or redesigning your technology, the greater your technical debt becomes.

And the greater your risk becomes.

We frequently see a lot of obfuscated technical debt with holding companies and their subsidiaries, or other companies that frequently buy up and/or spin off plants or locations. Technical debt can also accrue with companies that have had vastly limited budgets over the past few years, and haven’t been able to invest in their technology. But, quite honestly, everyone’s got some level of technical debt.

I won’t get into the nitty gritty of all the ways this could cost you time, money, peace, data, or stability. These previous articles can do that for me:

3 Hidden Reasons To Replace Aging Hardware

A Quick Guide To Calculating Total Cost Of Ownership (TCO): Part 2, Time Investment

Not Upgrading Old Server Hardware Could Be Dragging You Down

You’re probably wondering how you could possibly calculate your technical debt and the risk associated with it, and I wish I had a simple equation for you there.

The hot potato keeps getting passed along, and no one knows how old it is, what it is, or if they need to mess with it. They just pass it on… until it burns them.

This is where we can help.

Calculating Technical Debt And Associated Risks

We recommend doing a full audit of what you have, technology and infrastructure-wise. Then, you can examine all the areas that require attention, prioritize them based on risk and company goals, and build your budget around that. You can then convey your budgetary needs with that lens in mind.

What technical debt are we solving? What risks are we guarding against? What’s the business value of these new initiatives?

We’ve spent over 20 years being a force multiplier for CIOs and IT Directors to plan ahead, stay ahead of technology trends, solve problems, and fill in the gaps so that IT teams can stay focused on what’s important.

Learn more about making cent$ of IT budgeting!

Not sure how to get after it? We can help. Start with our assessments today and we can help you build a reasonable budget and plan for 2024!

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