Philly ETE 2022 — A Framework for Addressing Technical Debt — Chelsea Troy



Addressing tech debt can feel like a Sisyphean task. After weeks of work, the success case is for the system to work the same as it used to. Organizations often declare code bankruptcy and rewrite working systems from scratch. How do we end up here? How could we have avoided it? And how do we escape?

This talk will walk you through a framework for addressing technical debt. First, we’ll cover a way to measure technical debt and identify where it’s coming from. Then we’ll discuss how to pinpoint the areas of highest need. Finally, you’ll learn to identify high leverage code changes and prioritize them (roughly) based on their return on investment. You’ll walk away with a series of steps you can use to get from despair about tech debt to a plan with reasonable action items.

The Art of Documentation
The Tech Debt Series
A Rubric for Evaluating Employee Contributions to a Maintainable Code Base

About Chelsea Troy

Chelsea is a Staff SE on Machine Learning & Backend Systems at Mozilla. She also maintains the Zooniverse Citizen Science Mobile App, the NASA Landsat Data Processing Pipeline, and a few other open source client projects. She mentors formerly incarcerated technologists through Emergent Works. She teaches Python & Mobile Development at the University of Chicago Master’s Program in CS, hosts workshops for O’Reilly, and writes at

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Check out our YouTube playlist to watch all the talks from Emerging Technologies for the Enterprise 2022.