If you have been following the sub-prime crisis and the following recession, you would have no doubt heard horror stories about how uncontrolled debt has managed to wipe out many an individual / corporate house.
Uncontrolled spending, reckless taking out of loans, made over a century has blown up. The key element however is not that debts where taken, but just how risky those debts where, and how CEOs and corporate boards never really discovered the reality of those debts until all that blew up from down under.
Good independent auditing and more controls on aggressive practices would have perhaps prevented this from happening or the very least reduced the impact by a huge factor. Last minute cleanup after the shit has hit the fan is never the time to do this, as it would hurt more to do it near the end than when there is time and expertise around to perform the required audit and cleanup.
Technical Debt (highly recommended that you read this)
I definitely KNOW that this is something IT projects can learn from. There are many projects, where the leadership and implementers never care to track or document the technical debts they have around. While it’s O.K to cut corners to come out with a feature in a short time, it’s imperative to know exactly what corners have been cut so that you can rebuild them or mend them before something else gets build on top of those shaky corners.
Risk Management + Audit + Tracking = Good Management
And like in Finance a good amount of auditing and tests for worse case scenarios would bring home the point to everyone involved, as to how shaky everything really is. The risk factors once in the open and put on tracking would ensure that the technical debts do not get run over by callous implementations or over zealous marketing folks or program managers anxious to get the product out. This i believe should be the most important task for any IT manager, of tracking the technical debts and to exactly know which valves will burst when.
Happy Fixing !!