It happened, you have debt, and right now it might be akin to standing in a room with a mess all around you and you don’t know where to start.
Despite everything that’s around you, you can’t do it all at once, to do so would mean putting the breaks on everything else you are doing – which most companies cannot afford primarily because customers are key.
Where to start?
Get the small wins – start small – pick up your clothes, throw out the garbage – see the floor (you might be missing something).
What is hurting you? I mean really hurting you, bugs are taking too long to solve, customers are complaining, the pain is felt by the entire team.
What can be baked into upcoming releases? You have problems, Product Managers have answers, create the case, explain to them what is wrong, where you want to go, and why we are doing this. Yes, you the developer, are going to have to tell people why it’s wrong, you’re going to have to get them to share your pain and you’re going to have to get them to listen to why you need to do this.
Technical Debt doesn’t get axed all at once, it’s a pile that you chip away at. When you are handling it, you are managing technical debt, the above plan is how you lead your way out of it.