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Understanding the Three Kinds of Debt Haunting Your CIO

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Understanding the Three Kinds of Debt Haunting Your CIO

There are three kinds of debt you should be paying attention to — technical, relationship, and political debt. This article explores all three to help you gain a better understanding.

· Agile Zone
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In the modern world we are all familiar with debt. We all owe a debt to someone. We all owe a debt of something. We all owe a debt somewhere.

It can be as simple as debt on your credit card, it can be a large lode stone that the bank puts around your neck when you buy your dream house or it can be as tiny as promises you have made to those that trust you.

There are three kinds of debt that can be haunting your boss at work, your CIO, and understanding what pressures are on her shoulders will help you when pitching your suggestions to the C-level audiences in your organization. In this series, I will take a deeper look at the following three kinds of debt that are facing your CIO. It will help you when positioning your projects within your organization and help you to succeed in your C-level interactions.

Technical Debt

The typical definition references Ward Cunningham, relating to quick and easy development solutions that require rework later are chosen over more complex solutions that are done right the first time. The idea being that if you do enough of these quick and easy solutions, you are accruing an ever growing pile of technical debt.

If you take this to the level of the CIO, where many of the technical decision eventually are given a final blessing, you are now looking at technical debt that can span more than just a single development solution. 

I believe that technical debt is also created when you are implementing infrastructure solutions that will lead to major expensive changes down the road. The difference with technical debt from solutions development and with infrastructure development will be the focus of this topic with a look at why it is a burden on innovation.

Relationship Debt

This kind of debt is less visible in an organization if you don't know how to read the signs. Every CIO has to manage relationships with their suppliers and vendors, though most of these will be of the nature that they are run transactionally through commercial departments like procurement or purchasing.

There will be a few key, or strategic, relationships that the CIO will want to maintain personally to keep a finger on the pulse of the vendors that are delivering the key components to the operation. These can be software or infrastructure or a combination of both, but they will be vital to the personal agenda of your CIO. The question is how can you watch your CIO and have a good understanding of which vendors are the strategic ones and which are just throwing around the word strategic when they visit your organization?


Political Debt

When you start to understand how your CIO has committed to certain choices within your organization, then you are into the arena of political debt. This is where a CIO has chosen a solution to solve a critical path in her agenda and is going to do all she can to ensure this path is successfully navigated.

Political debt is one that can span technology choices, solution choices, personnel choices and vendor choices that will often not even be the best choices in hindsight. One must tread carefully when dealing with political debt, as they will weigh just as heavily on decisions made around your project proposals as any of the other two.

Haunting Call

By introducing the three kinds of debt that are haunting in their effect on your CIO, I intend to lay the groundwork before diving into a deeper look at each one of these kinds of debt. I will be giving you valuable insights into how you can use this knowledge when positioning your projects, such as Open Source Cloud solutions, JBoss architectures, Cloud Suite, OpenStack or OpenShift strategies to your CIO.

Debt is everywhere, even in your organization, and it's haunting your CIO every single day. Let's make sure you can use these situations to your advantage.

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Topics:
technical debt ,relationship

Published at DZone with permission of Eric D. Schabell, DZone MVB. See the original article here.

Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.

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