Ross is the chief strategy officer at Somo Global

In the past 25 years, Ross has been a founding member of 6 digital media companies. Currently working at the digital product accelerator Somo he is specialised in C level business, financial and marketing strategy. He was also voted for three years as one of the Top 100 Digital Media Digerati and Top 50 Most Influential People in Mobile by the Drum. 

What does a 40-year-old technical debt look like?

Not all technical debt is bad, and managing it well can yield tremendous benefits for your company. But just like financial debt, you have to be wise about incurring tech debt. Over the long term, accumulated debt can slow your shipping speeds, cause developer morale issues, or even sink your business entirely. Ross told us his strategy for managing technical debt in the show.

‘Well, a 40-year-old technical debt looks like a system built in the ’60s, that’s running transactions that no one knows how to fix now. That’s what it looks like in its worse situation.

In my opinion, the best way to mitigate and remove technical debt is through the appointment of a strong product leader. That product leader (or owner) is going to have control over what exactly the customer journey is today and what the customer journey is going to look like in the future. 

When they map out that journey they are going to identify all the barriers, friction, and all the issues from a front end perspective all the way through to a technical perspective, an organisational perspective a pricing perspective, etc. From there they are going to create a list of these problems and they’re going to start solving them.   

It comes down to prioritisation ultimately, it comes down to having a product leader that can prioritise which parts of the customer journey need to be addressed at what point. It’s a balancing act, there are loads of things that you might want to do but the question is: ‘is that going to be a massive benefit to your customers? Is it also going to give business benefit? It is going to be a technical nightmare to implement?

So the product leader basically takes the business requirements, customer requirements, and technical requirements and through them comes out with a series of prioritisations. The business then follows through on these in an agile manner because you need to be constantly reacting to both external and internal forces. So all the way through that prioritisation is being validated. This is how you manage your technical debt and update your systems.’

Show Notes:

01.44 Planning for external factors that can damage your business

05.37 You can’t just throw tech at a problem

09.07 Somo’s unique position in the market

10.55 Transparency is demanded now 

14.06 What does a 40-year-old technical debt look like?

19.28 Executing on a fully digital product acceleration   

24.11 Creating greater efficiencies for your business 

27.46 Telling clients what great looks like 

31.42 What’s the best thing you’ve learned in your career