Book Review

John Paliotta

September 01, 2015

A few weeks ago I read: "The Phoenix Project" which is a novel about the IT group at a fictional company that is struggling with maintaining and enhancing their software systems and getting them into production (DevOps).  It is a pretty entertaining read for anyone in the tech space.  The story centers around an IT manager who is tossed into a dysfunctional department that is so interrupt-driven that they can never get any part of their planned work done.  He has a mentor who is teaching him the parallels between software manufacturing and product manufacturing.  In the end, IT saves the company by transforming their work flow for efficiency.  I think that anyone who has worked in software development for any amount of time will really relate to the characters and story line.  Here are some of my favorite quotes from the various characters:

      • "You cannot achieve the strategic until you've mastered the tactical"
      • "The key to improvement is to identify the bottlenecks.  Improvement made anywhere besides the bottleneck are an illusion"
      • "You must shorten and amplify feedback loops so that quality can be fixed at the source"
      • "We are getting killed by unplanned work.  Solution: Identify the cause of unplanned work"
      • "Left unchecked, technical debt will ensure that the only work that gets done is unplanned work"

The last bullet is the killer, whatever percentage of your development team resources are being used for bug fixes and wrestling with fragile code is time lost that should be used to develop new customer-facing features.  To understand the technical debt on your projects, email with the subject "Technical Debt" and one of our engineers will discuss our strategies for getting your team building the features of the future, rather than fixing the mistakes of the past.

Get The Phoenix Project here.