Lee Almond

Lee Almond

Vice President Consulting Expert, Chief Data Officer


A complex challenge

Technical debt and its remediation has been an ongoing theme for all organisations for many years. Yet why does it feel as a CEO, CIO, CDIO or CDO, the challenge is never ending. Just when you think you’ve remediated the immediate technical debt issues, closed down the respective cyber, security, technology and data risks - more emerges. I have certainly been there and worn the T-shirt in my career.

The growth in “Big Data”, Cloud technology, Artificial Intelligence, and the need for specific technology in more restricted environments has created a complex, hybrid technology estate for most organisations to service and manage effectively. It has led to a number of digital transformation programmes or technical debt remediation work streams to be created to address, remediate and reduce technical debt in these hybrid IT estates.


Mixed results

In my experience, mixed results are mainly down to more technical debt and what I call ‘data debt’ being discovered. For example, data that is uncurated, duplicated, or stored in the wrong places. Also, data with no ownership or diminished value that should be removed. This leads to the requirement for additional investment to continue the remediation efforts. Often, this investment isn’t available, leading organisations to compromise on what they can and can’t remediate across their IT estate. Unfortunately, this can lead to ongoing risks turning into issues which can be more costly overall.


So why does this happen?

What are the causes of technical debt? In my experience, and this isn’t exhaustive, it’s down to the following areas that can be avoided.

1. Immature and undefined Service Management Operating models

A systematic and continuous approach to remediate technical debt can only be achieved through a mature operating model with clear ownership of the systems and data.

2. No protected or ring-fenced funding for tech debt

Appropriate funds need to be in place to ensure operating system, license upgrades, and renewals can be funded. They must contain a detailed pipeline setting out those that are due, when they are due, and the funding required to deliver them. This is always difficult when organisations experience head winds or cuts in funding, it’s always the easy funding to cut. I have been there myself when I am facing headwinds on my unit or programme funding, it’s the first budget I used to cut due to other legal and/or ministerial commitments. However, I have learnt through my own painful early experiences in this area, it costs far more longer term by not investing in the remediation of tech debt than allowing the risks to build and accrue.

3. Lack of defined technology and data risks

It’s like the hidden iceberg for an organisation when technology assets or the data within them is not well understood, documented, or owned effectively. It’s so key to have a well-defined technology and data operating model, with accountable technology and information asset owners in place who understand the key risks of the IT assets and data they own, fed into a macro-corporate register, with systematic risk management approaches in place. This ensures any high risks are managed at the corporate risk level with clear mitigation plans in place with monthly and or quarterly reporting on progress.

4. Unclear organisation TOM (Target Operating Model) and technology strategy

This is so important for any transformation programme, or technology investment to be successful. It must be clearly linked and aligned to the organisation’s business strategy, widely communicated, and widely understood by all in an organisation. Key decisions around applications, infrastructure and “data debt” investment and remediation are aligned with the future direction of your organisation, and benefits are achieved while remaining focused on the key outcomes required.


How can we help?

CGI has extensive experience delivering tech debt and data debt remediation programmes across various industries. We recognise how complex these programmes of work can be, but through our best-in-practice skills, capabilities, and global industry experience, we can help you to deliver these complex remediation programmes well and reach your digital transformation ambitions.


If you have any questions on this, do reach out to me for any further information or questions.

Back to top

About this author

Lee Almond

Lee Almond

Vice President Consulting Expert, Chief Data Officer

Lee Almond joined CGI in September 2023 as Vice President Chief Data Officer within the Public Safety sector of the Central Government business unit. She is an Innovative Change & Data Delivery Director ...