The Phoenix Project Review

This past summer I was able to read an advanced copy of The Phoenix Project: A Novel about IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win. The book is about Bill, an IT manager at an automotive parts company Parts Unlimited. On his way in to work one day, the CEO calls Bill to inform him that he is to report directly to him for the next 90 days to push out the company's new IT initiative, which is code named Project Phoenix. The project is way over budget and the due date has been pushed back multiple times. Bill has been instructed to fix the project in the time given to him and if he fails, his entire department will be outsourced. The rest of the book follows Bill as he scrambles, fights, and works his tail off to ship Project Phoenix. Along the way he meets a prospective board member who has his "Three Ways" ("Flow", "Feedback", and "Experimentation and Feedback") that he uses to help Bill take charge of the project.

Throughout the book there are a number of different workflow methodologies mentioned, such as the Toyota Production System, kaizen, kanban boards, Scrum, etc. As I was reading this book right as I was starting my co-op at a startup, it was really interesting to see just how the methodologies I saw and used every day applied to a company at a larger scale.

The book was written by Gene Kim, Kevin Behr, and George Spafford, who you may know as the authors of The Visible Ops Handbook. I discovered this after completing the book, which put a lot of things in to perspective, including just how close to the "DevOps" mentality this book seems to preach. Really it seems quite appropriate, they certainly have the experiences necessary to write this book.

All in all, the book was an enjoyable read. At times the writing was a bit rough, though to be fair, it was an advanced copy, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book on the train to work each morning and it truly made me a believer in the DevOps mentality. The prose itself isn't the best, but in my opinion, that truly wasn't the focus of the book.

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