Technical debt: the silent killer

The words ‘Technical debt: the silent killer’ with the words ‘Technical debt’ in yellow and the rest in white. They are set against an image of purple and black cables. The ITPro podcast logo is in the bottom right corner.
(Image credit: Future / Unsplash - Nathaniel Sison)

Anyone who works in IT will have stories of technical debt – those times you have to tape software together to get it released by the deadline, or a cheap solution staves off a more costly overhaul of old systems.

No matter how far you push it down the line, though, everyone has to pay up eventually. Ignoring technical debt only compounds the eventual problem of addressing it and IT teams around the world are saddled with technical debt that bites into their yearly budget.

In this episode, Rory is joined by Karen Worstell, senior cyber strategist at VMware to explore the impacts of technical debt and what can be done to address it.


“In my role as a CISO in the role of IT risk management many years ago, when we tried to roll out a new CRM implementation … the lack of understanding of the debt that had accumulated in the environment made that implementation fail, and it was a significant cost to the company. I think they lost about $350 million in one calendar quarter.”

“Technical debt is a defect, if you think about it in terms of six sigma and quality management. I would say having your IT operating, understanding very clearly that there is a tolerance level that the IT organization should operate within… there's always going to be a certain amount of technical debt, but I need to set my parameters for what that manageable number is, how to quantify that.”

“In my observation over the years has been that there's a strong tendency for executive management to assume that people are doing the right thing. And in my role as an IT risk manager, I frequently had the very distinct displeasure of being the one to tell them that they're not.”



Rory Bathgate
Features and Multimedia Editor

Rory Bathgate is Features and Multimedia Editor at ITPro, overseeing all in-depth content and case studies. He can also be found co-hosting the ITPro Podcast with Jane McCallion, swapping a keyboard for a microphone to discuss the latest learnings with thought leaders from across the tech sector.

In his free time, Rory enjoys photography, video editing, and good science fiction. After graduating from the University of Kent with a BA in English and American Literature, Rory undertook an MA in Eighteenth-Century Studies at King’s College London. He joined ITPro in 2022 as a graduate, following four years in student journalism. You can contact Rory at or on LinkedIn.