Sixth International Workshop on Managing Technical Debt

In conjunction with ICSME 2014


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The Sixth International Workshop on Managing Technical Debt is coming to Victoria, British Columbia, on September 30 in conjunction with ICSME 2014.

Technical debt is a metaphor that software developers and managers increasingly use to communicate key tradeoffs related to release and quality issues. The Managing Technical Debt workshop series has, since 2010, brought together practitioners and researchers to discuss and define issues related to technical debt and how they can be studied. Workshop participants reiterate the usefulness of the metaphor each year, share emerging practices used in software development organizations, and emphasize the need for more research and better means for sharing emerging practices and results.

The definition of technical debt, and the specification of what it includes and what it does not, is an ongoing topic at MTD workshops. Steve McConnell's definition serves as a useful starting point:

"A design or construction approach that's expedient in the short term but that creates a technical context in which the same work will cost more to do later than it would cost to do now (including increased cost over time)."

Further, a unifying perspective that has been emerging from the workshops is that technical debt is the invisible results of past decisions about software that affect its future. The effect can be negative if debt exists in the form of poorly managed risks, but properly managed debt can be seen in a positive light as adding value in the form of deferred investment opportunities. The reference to financial "debt" implies that there is a principal component (the cost of "paying off" the debt, or correcting the effects of expedient development decisions) and an interest component (the added future cost incurred as a result of the short-term decision).

Clearly technical debt is an issue at the heart of the software maintenance research community, although topics may appear under different names. Technical debt research, in fact, benefits from decades of ongoing work in maintenance-related areas, such as

  • software aging and decay
  • software metrics
  • prediction and estimation
  • release planning
  • architecture

Industry's increasing interest in concrete practices, and the emergence of organization-specific practices, can be seen as indications that industry needs clearly defined approaches for managing technical debt, to deal with issues such as evolution, strategic resource management, and bridging the stakeholder communication gap. Organizations that embrace technical debt as part of their iteration-planning practices achieve success as a result of the following actions:

  • making technical debt visible
  • differentiating strategic structural technical debt from technical debt that emerges from low code quality
  • using the elicited technical debt as a means for bridging the gap between the business and technical sides of the organization
  • integrating technical debt into planning
  • associating technical debt with future risk to identify a payback strategy

Topics of Interest

While paper acceptance is not a requirement to participate in the workshop, we are seeking papers on practical experience with technical debt and approaches to evaluate and manage technical debt including, but not limited to the following topics:

  • techniques for eliciting technical debt
  • visualizing technical debt
  • analyzing technical debt
  • measuring technical debt
  • relationship of technical debt to software evolution, maintenance, and software aging
  • economic models for describing technical debt
  • technical debt and software life-cycle management
  • technical debt within the software ecosystem
  • technical debt and architecture
  • concrete practices and tools used to control technical debt

Submission Information

Papers must conform to the IEEE CS Proceedings style guidelines. Submissions must be submitted online via the MTD 2014 EasyChair conference management system. Accepted papers will be presented at the workshop and published with the ICSME proceedings.

We invite submissions of papers in any areas related to the themes and goals of the workshop in the following categories:

  1. research papers: describing innovative and significant original research in the field (8 pages)
  2. industrial papers: describing industrial experience, case studies, challenges, problems, and solutions (8 pages)
  3. position and future trend papers: describing ongoing research, new results, and future trends (4 pages)

Submissions should be original and unpublished work. Each submitted paper will undergo a rigorous review process by three members of the Program Committee.

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