Debt Stories: Capturing Social and Technical Debt in the Industry


In today’s organizations, software is mission-critical. However, the legacy of past decisions can make tasks related to artifacts increasingly inefficient or risky, creating debt. While most researchers and practitioners mainly focus on technical debt, some have investigated its social dimensions, known as social debt. We argue that organizations developing software need to tackle debt holistically, as it is intrinsically a socio-technical issue. In this short paper, we rely on a definition of socio-technical debt based on the existing literature to define Debt Stories: a tool based on the User Story format, that can help capture debt elements directly from the stakeholders involved in software development. A debt story includes information about the role of the stakeholder in the development process, the social or technical context, and the impact of the debt element on the different tasks performed by the stakeholder. We provide a first empirical evaluation of the usage of Debt Stories in an industrial context, demonstrating the relevance of Debt Stories to express and communicate socio-technical debt.

International Conference on Technical Debt (TechDebt ‘24)
Xavier Devroey
Xavier Devroey
Assistant Professor

My research interests include search-based and model-based software testing, test suite augmentation, DevOps, and variability-intensive systems engineering.