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Process Debt: Definition, Risks and Management
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  • Antonio Martini,
  • Viktoria Stray,
  • Terese Besker,
  • Nils Moe,
  • Jan Bosch
Antonio Martini
University of Oslo

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Viktoria Stray
University of Oslo
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Terese Besker
RISE Research Institutes of Sweden AB
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Nils Moe
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Jan Bosch
Chalmers tekniska hogskola - Campus Lindholmen
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Context: Process Debt, like Technical Debt, can be a source of short-term benefits but often is harmful in the long term for a software organization. Nonetheless, information about Process Debt is scarce in the current literature. Objective: This paper aims to define Process Debt, describe its occurrence with associated risks, and show examples of mitigation strategies. Method: Firstly, we conducted an exploratory study of Process Debt in four international organizations by interviewing 16 practitioners. Then, we validated and extended the findings with a cross-company focus group with additional 10 practitioners. Finally, we analyzed 58 additional observations and 35 interviews from a longitudinal case study. Results: The findings show that Process Debt can be a harmful phenomenon that needs attention. We provide a framework and a definition, and report causes, consequences and occurrence patterns over time of Process Debt. We present mitigation strategies and which ones need further attention for future research. Conclusions: The debt metaphor may help companies understand how to manage and improve their processes and make process-related decisions that are beneficial both in the short and long term.
14 Aug 2023Submitted to Journal of Software: Evolution and Process
24 Feb 2024Assigned to Editor
24 Feb 2024Submission Checks Completed
24 Feb 2024Reviewer(s) Assigned
08 Mar 2024Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
03 Apr 2024Editorial Decision: Revise Minor