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The Debt Collectors

by David Norton  |  October 25, 2013  |  Comments Off on The Debt Collectors

 KNOCK  KNOCK  KNOCK – “Come on, open the door”

“Just a minute, I am coming” says Jo the CIO as he walked slowly to the door.  He knew this day was coming, the day when all those “we will worry about that tomorrow” would catch him up.

“Come on, open the door, don’t make us break it down”   

 “Sorry, I have to disable my security before I can open the door”

There was the sound of collective laughter from the other side of the door “well that won’t take long, we installed it, just type user “admin”, password “admin” and it will open right up” 

The CIO did as the voice said; click as the door lock opened. All those years typing user =IamTheBoss and password =IamTheBoss123 and a simple “admin”, “admin” would have done.

The increasingly nervous CIO opened the door to come face to face with four large men dressed in black suits sporting dark sun glasses and black gloves, worryingly they all had scuff marks on the knuckles .

“I am Mr Technical Debt, representing Poor Agile Inc, Mr TD to my friends so you can call Mr Technical Debt.   These are my associates,   Mr Code Complexity, Mr Inf- Destructor and Mr Anti Pattern.  Mr Bad Security has accidentally locked himself in the car but will be here shortly”   

“Well what can I do for you gentlemen?” said the CIO noticing Mr Anti Pattern had a bad smell about him.

“Don’t play dumb with us, you know why we are here, you borrowed from us and now its pay up time” barked Mr Code Complexity. 

“But but I can’t pay, I didn’t know the debt interest was so high, come on guys I need more time. I tell you what came back next budget cycle and I will have it then”

Mr Technical Debts’ cold dead stare became even colder and a bit deader. “Did not know the interest on the debt was so high you say!! Hmm I seem to recall when you went into debt with my associates and I you did not care about the debt interest. We make it clear to all our borrowers from Poor Agile Inc that we, shall we say, have elevated interest rates on all debts and severe penalties for non-payment”

It was Mr  Inf-Destructor’s  turn to speak “You were warned,  your developers told you don’t get into debt with us, your development manager told you to start refactoring the debt out , even Gartner told you. But no, you didn’t care, you ignored them all, you just wanted to get the business off your back and get the stuff out the door”   

“What do you mean severe penalties” asked the CIO not really wanting to hear the answer

Mr Anti Pattern gave a slight grin. “Well it will start by me making it hard for your developers and maintenance guys, the odd break here, the odd break there, then bam I am gonna hit them with a major performance problem”   

“And once my associate has finished that I am gonna hit you with code so complex you will be lucky if you release a new feature once  a year, and you can kiss goodbye to that new mobile app you been dreaming about” added Mr Code Complexity.

“And then it is my turn” Mr  Inf- Destructor  said “I am gonna max out your servers, overload your network and turn your virtual environment into a real nightmare”

Mr Technical Debt leant forward and in a forceful whisper said “And if you still don’t pay back the debt we are going after the things you hold most dear”

“OMG not my users, not the business, please no” cried the CIO

“Yes”   Mr Technical Debt replied “We are gonna bring down their apps, slow down their processes, and break their capabilities one by one.   We are going to make them hurt so bad and it’s all your fault”

“Please I beg you, it’s not my fault, the business made me do it. I only went into debt to please them; they kept asking for more and more, it not my fault”

“We sympathise we really do” said a slightly embarrassed Mr Bad Security who had now joined the party “But it was not the business who came to us, it was you”

“But what could I do, I was under so much pressure, I can’t say no to the business, you must understand that” said an ever more panicky CIO

“Even now you don’t get it, it was your job to make the business see what would happen, it was your job to pay any debt back not get into more. As for the business forcing you, you don’t give an alcoholic another drink just because he asks”  said an increasingly impatient  Mr Technical Debt.  

“So it’s payback time –NOW”

The CIO gave one last pleading “Noooooo…………..”

“Wake up, wake up dear, you’re having a bad dream, wake up. Look you’re soaked in sweat, what were you dreaming about?”

“Sorry love it was that crazy dream again, just a crazy dream, I will speak to my analyst about it, maybe he can tell what all these IT debt dreams are all about. Night love”


 “Jo, wake up, someone is at the door”

Category: agile  application-development  

David Norton
Research Director
7 years at Gartner
25 years IT industry

In his role as research director with Gartner's application development and architecture team, David Norton supports clients by developing and delivering quality and timely research. Read Full Bio

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