Technical Debt

CISQ is working on a specification to measure and manage Technical Debt. Technical debt is a measure of software cost, effort, and risk due to defects remaining in code at release. Like financial debt, technical debt incurs interest over time in the form of extra effort and cost to maintain the software. Technical debt also represents the level of risk exposed to business due to the increased cost of ownership.


Currently, there is no standard way to measure technical debt, yet the metaphor gets a lot of attention from developers and tech managers. Most technical debt is assessed using a linear model – that is, by looking at all code quality issues in the same way. In fact, CISQ has seen through our research that some coding issues have much more impact than others – typically the architectural defects, rather than the unit-level defects. CISQ’s approach to technical debt measurement will take into account the relative impact of coding defects.


The measure will utilize CISQ’s Automated Quality Characteristic Measures to detect critical violations of good coding and architectural practice in the source code of software.


The Software Engineering Institute (SEI) at Carnegie Mellon University is engaged in the project. In addition to an automated measure, the team will provide a general framework for describing and analyzing technical debt.


Anticipated submission to the OMG® for approval as a standard is March 2017.



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