The Phoenix Project

A novel on IT & DevOps

Finished reading the book The Phoenix Project recently. Not to be confused with the troubled Phoenix pay system, The Phoenix Project tells a story of how a newly promoted IT exec overcame IT adversities and turned the business around.

What’s interesting to me is how similar CPPIB is to the company in the novel (Parts Unlimited). The characters and teams in the novel are easily relatable. At CPPIB, we have the Core Technology team, which performs change management, deployment, and hardware. Developers dread filling out change-management JIRA tickets because they are so verbose. Any scheduled change requires 48hrs notice, unless it’s an emergency. Core-Tech complain that developers don’t fill in those change-management ticket properly and request more information, resulting in more delay. When fire breaks out and brings down a services, it is likely due to a change that a developer sneaked in last mintute without much QA. Some of the dialogues in the novel matches exactly like what my colleagues would say!

The book also describes 4 types of IT work: Business Projects , Internal IT Projects, Changes, and Unplanned Work. The trick is to reduce the amount of unplanned work, AKA reduce fires that break out. I realized that I actually witnessed all 4 types of work at CPPIB. Sometimes, I feel that internal IT projects are being neglected in favour of business projects, because these IT projects don’t create a ton of value for the business teams directly. These IT projects pile up in the backlog and get compounded as tech debt. However, these IT projects are just what developers need to be able to implement features and deploy to production quicker and safer.

Hmmm, perhaps I should convince everyone in IT to read this book.

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