If you have tech debt in your code and want to address it as soon as possible the test driven development or TDD would help you a lot as it is really effective to maintain a clean code along with enabling the scope for creativity and experimentation. All the features in such process is developed in there different and distinct steps. The first step involves the writing of a failing or red acceptance test. At this time a question which should arrive primarily is what is the aim of the feature and what is really achieved by this feature and how to know when it is working ideally.
The Second Step
The second step is all about implementing the actual feature. When the feature is successfully implemented the acceptance test that is executable would go from red to green indicating that it is done. The objective behind such implementation is to achieve the fastest path and not necessarily the best path. Therefore, to achieve this it is acceptable when ugly and unusual hacks are written and thereby making a creative mess at this juncture. Quality of the code is ignored at this point as the primary objective is to get to the green as fast as possible.
The Final Step
The last and final step, which is also the most critical one, is doing the cleaning up job. Now that a working feature is achieved with green test as a proof, cleaning up is done and is relatively easy, even though at time some drastic redesigning has to be done. All this times the running test along with the newest test acts as a harness for the safety and also alerts the developing team if anything is broken or changed in the process of cleaning. This is a process to ensure that the developers do not forget any important part of the feature and the purpose of the feature as well.
Step By Step Cleaning
The features are cleaned and made ready step by step and as you are not allowed to move on to the next feature without properly cleaning the previous ones, the entire cleaning process becomes much more effective. Even a column can be updated to let others know that acceptance test is written so that no one accidentally starts implementing any feature before having an acceptance test failing. But there is no need to express acceptance test at a feature level as some other thing may crop up. You may check online to know more about acceptance test and code cleaning process. When checking out for technical debts and related topics, it is always a wise idea to check out for the best debt consolidation loans too. These loans are much popular these days and are useful too. Check out for them and you will find them useful as well.
About Some Alternatives
There are some alternatives to it as well,like the Lean Startup Style Acceptance test and Impact Mapping Style Acceptance Test but in all the cases the primary objective is to do a proper cleanup as the part of the entire process. TDD can also be done at different and multiple levels like in the feature level or in the class or the module level as well to give the best codes with great quality as at the end of the day all that matters is the people to be happy.