Managing Technical Debt: A Finance Director's Guide

Posted by Tribal Group


As a Finance Director, you recognise the critical importance of effectively managing technical debt within your institution. Technical debt is the cost incurred when shortcuts are taken or outdated technologies continue to be used to solve problems, leading to maintenance issues and inefficiencies and ultimately hindering the ability to achieve financial goals. To effectively manage technical debt, you must understand its root causes and implement a strategic plan prioritising modernisation, IT governance, collaboration, and financial stewardship. 


The first step is to assess the institution's technology landscape thoroughly. This includes identifying the systems in place, their limitations, and areas for improvement. You must also consider your institution's long-term goals and the technology required to achieve them. Based on this assessment, you can develop a strategic plan that prioritises the areas that require the most attention, including systems that are at the end of their useful life or causing the most significant maintenance issues. Of course, you must also consider your budget and prioritise improvements that provide the most significant return on investment. 


You must establish a robust IT governance framework - this framework should include policies and procedures for managing technology within the institution, including system maintenance and upgrade guidelines. By implementing an IT governance framework, we can ensure that technology decisions are made transparently and with accountability. This will help prevent the accumulation of technical debt and ensure that technology decisions are aligned with the institution's financial goals. 


Investing in modernisation is also critical for reducing technical debt. This may involve upgrading systems to newer technologies, migrating legacy systems to the cloud, or consolidating systems to reduce complexity. Modernisation can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your technology systems and reduce maintenance costs over time. This will help free up financial resources that can be invested in other critical areas of the institution. 


As a Finance Director, collaboration with stakeholders is essential. This includes working with the CIO to identify technology needs and ensure that technology solutions meet the requirements of our institution's financial goals. It also involves collaborating with other institutions, such as academic and administrative departments, to ensure technology decisions align with your overall mission and goals. 


In addition to modernisation and collaboration, financial stewardship is critical for managing technical debt. You must ensure that you are allocating financial resources effectively and efficiently. This may involve evaluating the cost-benefit of different technology solutions and prioritising investments that provide the most significant return on investment. 


To recap, managing technical debt requires a strategic and collaborative approach that prioritises modernisation, IT governance, collaboration, and financial stewardship. As a Finance Director, you recognise the critical role that technology plays in achieving your financial goals, and you will work closely with the CIO and other stakeholders to ensure that you manage technical debt effectively and allocate your resources strategically. By doing so, you can ensure that the institution remains competitive and sustainable in the long run. 


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