Technical Debt Analysis

With DETANGLE, Cape of Good Code provides analysis results quickly and clearly and thus supports in focusing on the most important quality risks based on facts in order to set the necessary development priorities.

Thorsten Braun, Head of TrainIT Technology and Architecture, Siemens Mobility



Using the DETANGLE® analysis results, we were able to specifically identify the relevant technical debt and its root causes. The Cape of Good Code consultants also showed us how to draw the right conclusions from the analysis and derive suitable refactoring measures.

Sebastian Scheuerl, Department Head Software Development CAMBIUM®

Do You Know the Technical Debt in Your Software?

Every software has technical debt. They are hidden in the code and in the software architecture. These debts eventually limit the possibilities to develop software any further in an efficient way. A maintenance effort of more than 20% of the development capacity is a first indication for too high technical debts in your software.

Triggers for the debts are time pressure, budget pressure but also overload of the development team. These circumstances tempt developers to consciously or unconsciously make technical compromises. Without appropriate countermeasures, technical debt continues to increase with each new feature. Until the point is reached where users are dissatisfied and further development of the software is no longer technically or commercially viable.

How far is your own software from this point? That is the question every software producer should ask himself regularly. Our Experts can support you to answer this question. Therefore we analyse your software with the DETANGLE® Analysis Suite and show in detail how you can get back into the green zone of technical debt and stay there. This will ensure that your software remains attractive, competitive and profitable in the long term.

What Should I Know About Technical Debt?

Software products are “never-ending stories”. The need for updates or upgrades runs through the entire lifecycle of a software product. In this process, new technical debts are continuously generated. If they are not regularly reduced, the maintenance effort increases far beyond 20% of the total developers capacity. This is an indicator that the team is increasingly dealing with the effects of the debts instead of developing new features.

So how can you locate and quantify technical debt in code and architecture so that you can take effective countermeasures?

It is important to know:

  • Not every Technical Debt is a pressing problem. 
  • Not every critical technical debt is easy to identify.
  • Technical debt in architecture can be particularly problematic.

In order to stay within the recommended budget of 20% development capacity for maintenance and debt reduction, critical debt should always be kept in mind during development. But the challenge is – how do I recognise them and how can I then prioritize the critical debt to utilize expert capacity most efficiently?

Contact us for more information.

Can Technical Debt Be Analysed Automatically?

Cape of Good Code has developed the DETANGLE® software analysis suite for identifying the problem potential of technical debt distributed in the code and architecture.

The unique feature of the DETANGLE® Software is its platform architecture. That is why the leading code quality tools still can be used and integrated, while newly developed algorithms allow an additional measurement of the technical debt in the architecture of the software. Thus, for the first time in software analysis, the technical debts are quantified both in the code and its architecture and correlated with the maintenance and extra costs in the development process. New KPIs allow us to constantly track the debt trend, which significantly improves the control and effectiveness of your countermeasures.

The Cape of Good Code Analysis of Technical Debt using DETANGLE® includes the following services:

  • Localisation of technical debt in the code and architecture.
  • Prognosis of the effects on the maintenance costs and the extensibility of the software.
  • Prioritization of measures to reduce the debt with effort-vs-problem potential criteria.
  • Tracing technical debt to its root causes (e.g. architecture or code quality as well as development process quality) and determining the extent and contribution of these causes to the debt.

We support the stakeholders in software development with professional analyses in order to keep the maintenance effort in the software lifecycle within a reasonable corridor of change and stability. DETANGLE® provides recommendations for reducing the technical debts in the software to a non-critical level in an effective manner.

Based on the results of the analysis with the DETANGLE® Analysis Suite and supplemented by information and details from interviews and documents, many actionable insights are derived for the stakeholders in your software development.

Stakeholder Insights
Project Manager,
Product Owner
  • Overview of whether “interest costs” exceed critical thresholds. Recognisable by the share of maintenance expenses in the total development capacity.
  • Identification of debt hotspots.  Effort estimate to reduce the technical debt in these hotspots and address the root causes. Guidance on prioritisation according to cost-benefit aspects.
  • Guidance on planning budgets for developing new features vs. paying off technical debt. This enables a long-term balance of stability and innovation.
Technical Director
  • Valid statements on a variety of potential causes for technical debt facilitate the prioritisation of countermeasures. Important aspects are:
    • Extensibility of the code architecture
    • Maintainability of the code
    • Extent of documentation gaps
    • Extent of test code or test coverage
    • Efficiency of the development teams
    • Quality of technical processes
Startups, CTO, CEO
  • Essential performance metrics across the product landscape enable identification of best practices for software development and architecture.
  • Data-based decision support to prioritize capacity for innovation vs. paying off technical debt across diverse development teams and products.
  • Analysis of software quality and software engineering processes to prepare for the next investor round.

Contact us for more information on the fields of investigation of our Technical Debt Analysis

When Is the Right Time To Analyze Your Technical Debt?

If problems are already noticeable to the customer, you have already missed the right time. Symptoms caused by technical debt are manifold and start early to occur. They should be detectable early as well:

  • Decreasing innovation momentum
  • Increasing bugs and decreasing stability
  • Lengthy testing, time-consuming troubleshooting
  • Increased effort in integrating new features
  • Regularly missed launch dates
  • Frustrated developers

Developing software without knowing your technical debt is like driving in the fog at high speed. It can work, but it doesn’t have to. Our team will support you with tools, expertise and experience to clear that fog. Get in touch with us.

Contact us for more information on our DETANGLE® Analysis

In software projects, there are inevitable gaps and fuzziness in the specifications at the beginning of the project. Every software project therefore undergoes constant conceptual and technological changes, usually without adjusting schedules and budgets. The many small inadequacies, bugs, best practice violations, workarounds and quick fixes that occur from sprint to sprint or update to update quickly add up to a problematic level of technical debt if no countermeasures were taken.

The Cape of Good Code team can help you analyse the Technical Debt in your code and architecture already at a very early stage of development. With a software scan with DETANGLE® and some (optional) structured interviews, the hotspots of debt are identified with moderate effort.

For these debt hotspots, a roadmap for code and architecture improvements is developed, taking into account the given budget and resource constraints. At the same time, it also raises the awareness of developers and project managers to use best practices and reduce debt on a regular basis.

Questions that every software developer or project manager should ask themselves regularly:

  • What is the structure of my technical debt? Do they arise from problems in the architecture, from poor code quality, from lack of documentation and inadequate testing, or a mixture of all?
  • What is the distribution of technical debt in the code base? Where are the hotspots of technical debt found? Are there any patterns?
  • How can I regularly estimate the correction effort?
  • How can I detect and locate debt early using clear metrics?
  • How can Technical Debt be measured so that countermeasures can be prioritized with the best cost/benefit ratio?
  • How can software engineering best practices be better embedded in the team?

If software development managers and staff address these questions frequently, the problem of growing technical debt should be manageable. The emphasis here is on frequently, since new technical debt can arise and escalate at any time due to budget pressure, capacity bottlenecks, fluctuations in the team and constant changes in requirements. We therefore recommend making the monitoring and reduction of technical debt a regular routine.

Cape of Good Code provides services and analysis by developers for developers. We understand from our own experience the underlying constraints in software engineering. This is exactly why we have developed DETANGLE®. Our analyses and proposals are characterized by a high analytical depth, but also by pragmatism and practicality. And the effort required for our analysis of your software is less than you probably would expect.

Contact us to clarify questions or to discuss further details for an offering.

What Comes After the Technical Debt Analysis?

According to the scope and priority of the technical debt, the go-ahead for a project to reduce the technical debt should be given immediately afterwards. It is essential that qualified developers are made available temporarily for this task and that this is taken into account in capacity planning. We always recommend implementing organizational measures to keep the new build-up of technical debt under control.

In this follow-up project, Cape of Good Code experts may support you in implementing the recommendations of the debt analysis.

In detail, Cape of Good Code offers the following services for the project phase of the reduction of technical debt:

  • Project management to ensure coordination and progress to implement the recommendations from the client and partners.
  • Recording of the refactoring actions as issues including their description and justification.
  • Training of the development teams on best practices in the use of issue trackers and code repositories.
  • Train the development teams on best practices for designing code for testability.
  • Conceptual advice if a major redesign or transformation of the code architecture is required.