The saying goes…
The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.
This also applies to tech debt. The best time to address tech debt was as soon as it was identified, the second best time is now. The worst time is what most people do, say they’ll get to it.
If you’re responsible for a real system that paying customers depend on, you have, or should have, risk aversion. Any change is risky. If things are working why fix them? That’s why ignoring tech debt is very common.
However, if you address tech debt proactively, you have some measure of control in the process, that reduces the risk. If you ignore tech debt:
- It will greatly contribute to bit rot.
- It will eventually be mysterious or even unsupported.
- It may require a security update.
- It may outright fail.
These may happen independently or in combination. The moment it comes to a head and can no longer be avoided will be unpredictable and unscheduled. You will be forced to act reactively and that brings far greater risk.
So, as Nike says, just do it.