Technical debt (TD) is a technical compromise wherein the ability to maintain information technology (IT) applications over the long term is sacrificed for short-term goals. TD occurs when software development teams undergo constant pressure to release applications swiftly, on a tight schedule. The accumulation of TD, which often leads to a significant cost surplus, presents a ubiquitous challenge in technology-driven organisations. To keep TD levels under control, many organisations implement top-down mechanisms that impose enterprise-wide principles on software development teams. This clinical research presents a complementary but distinct approach to managing TD. A digital nudge was introduced at Credit Suisse, a global financial services company, to help raise awareness and understanding, and stimulate actions related to TD decision-making in software development teams. This paper reports on the nudge’s clinical design, implementation, impact, and evaluation. As the nudge was effective in reducing TD in IT applications after one year of use, we demonstrate that digital nudges are viable means for guiding collective decisions in complex decision environments like that of TD management. Our findings have several implications for research and practice.
Kazem Haki, Annamina Rieder, Lorena Buchmann, Alexander W. Schneider
21 Jul 2022