Is OSS tech-debt good debt or bad debt?

But what if it’s ALL tech-debt?
Everything we build needs to be supported for its natural life. The more we accumulate, the more that needs supporting. Support represents all the debt we leave behind, like going on a credit-card fuelled spending spree. And like any other debt, the more you collect, the more it compounds (due to the handshake analogy).”
More details here.

If we consider every investment of effort or cash in our OSS as a debt of support that the organisation has to carry forward, does it change our expectation of what we need from our OSS in return?

Taking on debt to buy assets (eg property, shares, businesses) is considered good debt. Taking on debt to buy stuff that produces no financial return is considered bad debt.

By that definition, is the expenditure of time and cash on our OSS good debt or bad debt?

Are all of our efforts producing:

  1. A tangible financial benefit
  2. An intangible benefit or
  3. No perceivable benefit at all

I suspect that in most environments it’s probably all of the above but heavily weighted towards B.

Clearly we need mechanisms to drive more of our tech debt into A initiatives. That means more “revenue generation” thinking though.

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