Improving the Delivery Cycle: A Multiple-Case Study of the Toolchains in Finnish Software Intensive Enterprises

Simo Mäkinen, Marko Leppänen, Terhi Kilamo, Anna-Liisa Mattila, Eero Laukkanen, Max Pagels, Tomi Männistö

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Context: Software companies seek to gain benefit from agile development approaches in order to meet evolving market needs without losing their innovative edge. Agile practices emphasize frequent releases with the help of an automated toolchain from code to delivery.

Objective: We investigate, which tools are used in software delivery, what are the reasons omitting certain parts of the toolchain and what implications toolchains have on how rapidly software gets delivered to customers.

Method: We present a multiple-case study of the toolchains currently in use in Finnish software-intensive organizations interested in improving their delivery frequency. We conducted qualitative semi-structured interviews in 18 case organizations from various software domains. The interviewees were key representatives of their organization, considering delivery activities.

Results: Commodity tools, such as version control and continuous integration, were used in almost every organization. Modestly used tools, such as UI testing and performance testing, were more distinctly missing from some organizations. Uncommon tools, such as artifact repository and acceptance testing, were used only in a minority of the organizations. Tool usage is affected by the state of current workflows, manual work and relevancy of tools. Organizations whose toolchains were more automated and contained fewer manual steps were able to deploy software more rapidly.

Conclusions: There is variety in the need for tool support in different development steps as there are domain-specific differences in the goals of the case organizations. Still, a well-founded toolchain supports speedy delivery of new software.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-194
JournalInformation and Software Technology
Early online date8 Sept 2016
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Continuous deployment
  • Continuous delivery
  • Software development tools
  • Deployment pipeline
  • Agile software development


Dive into the research topics of 'Improving the Delivery Cycle: A Multiple-Case Study of the Toolchains in Finnish Software Intensive Enterprises'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this