University of Oulu

Challenges in understanding, measuring, and managing technical debt

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Author: Wickström, Sami1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, Information Processing Science
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.4 MB)
Pages: 18
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Oulu : S. Wickström, 2023
Publish Date: 2023-03-23
Thesis type: Bachelor's thesis
Tutor: Rantala, Leevi


Technical debt as a concept is vast and somewhat abstract area. The most basic definition of it is that it is analogous to a bank loan, which must be paid back so you don’t get stated bankrupt. Number of activities required to manage the debt are numerous, as 15 different sources of possible debt are identified.

Technical debt management activities, possible sources, and outcomes that unpaid debt might bring are documented in this paper’s background section. Results section contains challenges that technical debt management processes are encountering in understanding, measuring, and managing the debt.

Even with existing empirical research on technical debt management, research and industry are having hard time in trying to find the right tools and areas to measure to gain meaningful information on numerous types of technical debt. Without the right metrics, the monitoring tools are not able to provide useful information to aid in communication and decision-making. Currently, the tools focus mainly on code smells (code debt) and are not able to measure the most important aspects of the debt, design, and architectural debt. This research suggests future research topics to improve existing knowledge on certain areas such as the previously mentioned ability to meaningfully measure different kinds of debts.

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Copyright information: © Sami Wickström, 2023. Except otherwise noted, the reuse of this document is authorised under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC-BY 4.0) licence ( This means that reuse is allowed provided appropriate credit is given and any changes are indicated. For any use or reproduction of elements that are not owned by the author(s), permission may need to be directly from the respective right holders.