11 Aug Technical debt: Why the manufacturing industry and Dig Dug have a lot in common
by Chris Larsen
The beauty of the classic arcade is how easily and dreamily you lost track of time there—a fond memory today’s kids will never know. And one of the best games for losing track of time? Dig Dug. A maze of repeatedly fending off pesky creatures in the dirt with no end in sight (except the call of everlasting glory on the high score screen). While hours in the arcade letting that Dig Dug theme become an earworm may have been the perfect way to spend a day in the 80s, such a life has no place in your manufacturing organization today. Unfortunately, this is the reality for many companies dealing with technical debt.
When a growing pile of incomplete fixes, code retrofits, and unfinished documentation are holding you back from the innovation and scale necessary for growth, that probably means you have excessive technical debt (or green dragons and red tomatoes, shall we say?) overpowering your organization. Technical debt is the cost of reworking or retrofitting technology solutions that are either improper for or fall short of your organization’s needs. Basically, anything that compromises the long-term viability of your business’ tech stack is technical debt, and, like Mr. Dig Dug himself, many manufacturers spend too much time repeatedly waging war against it. However, there are better ways to crawl out of this hole.
To help you get started dig-dugging your way through to a true eradication of technical debt, I want to cover two key sources of manufacturing technical debt: siloed knowledge/rogue departments and highly customized solutions. And then, conversely, we’ll take a look at some tried and true repayment plans our own manufacturing clients have used to solve those problems.
DEBT: Siloed knowledge and rogue departments
One of the most common forms of technical debt we see in manufacturing organizations is siloed knowledge and rogue departments. What this means is business units aren’t adequately communicating, every department charts its own course, and there is no clear ownership over technology decisions. All of this creates an ever-increasing need to reconfigure the technology so it better aligns with a cross-functional vision—and that degree of refactoring that will demand attention sooner or later? That’s the technical debt. This landscape of disparate processes and poor alignment can…
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Chris Larsen is Simplus’ Director of Strategy (East) for Advisory Services. He has more than 20 years of experience delivering business value from strategy and technology projects with a focus on CRM, field service, cloud services, data integration, and analytics. Chris applies deep experience and proven methodology to successfully facilitate strategic planning and change management across a wide variety of constituencies. He has led numerous CRM strategy and roadmap engagements, leading to multi-year CRM implementation and optimization programs for large and mid-size companies with global and domestic scope.