Paying Your Software Development Tax

In software development we already have the technical debt metaphor that helps describe the the fact that a quick and dirty approach now, may create problems in the future. For example getting a feature into production sooner but compromising the quality/design/testability/etc. may make future changes harder or more costly: hence paying interest over time for the technical debt that was just created.

The technical debt metaphor is easily relatable to by non-developers and can help facilitate discussions with business owners/stakeholders.

In the real world, paying interest is an acceptable part of life and loans in various forms are not seen as problematic for the majority of people in modern society.

Even though they are an essential part of society however, most people dislike the thought of taxes.

Would the metaphor of a software development tax provide a more visceral reaction and encourage higher quality software where appropriate?

For example, there are “taxes” that come from everyday software development, such as bug fixing or introducing code duplication. Rather than saying “this will add some technical debt to the project…”, we could say “that’s going to increase the amount of tax we have to pay to deliver this…”.

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