Problems, Causes and Solutions When Adopting Continuous Delivery - A Systematic Literature Review

Eero Laukkanen, Juha Itkonen, Casper Lassenius

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review

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Context: Continuous delivery is a software development discipline in which software is always kept releasable. The literature contains instructions on how to adopt continuous delivery, but the adoption has been challenging in practice.

Objective: In this study, a systematic literature review is conducted to survey the faced problems when adopting continuous delivery. In addition, we identify causes for and solutions to the problems.

Method: By searching five major bibliographic databases, we identified 293 articles related to continuous delivery. We selected 30 of them for further analysis based on them containing empirical evidence of adoption of continuous delivery, and focus on practice instead of only tooling. We analyzed the selected articles qualitatively and extracted problems, causes and solutions. The problems and solutions were thematically synthesized into seven themes: build design, system design, integration, testing, release, human and organizational and resource.

Results: We identified a total of 40 problems, 28 causal relationships and 29 solutions related to adoption of continuous delivery. Testing and integration problems were reported most often, while the most critical reported problems were related to testing and system design. Causally, system design and testing were most connected to other themes. Solutions in the system design, resource and human and organizational themes had the most significant impact on the other themes. The system design and build design themes had the least reported solutions.

Conclusions: When adopting continuous delivery, problems related to system design are common, critical and little studied. The found problems, causes and solutions can be used to solve problems when adopting continuous delivery in practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-79
JournalInformation and Software Technology
Early online date18 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2017
MoE publication typeB1 Non-refereed journal articles


  • Continuous integration
  • Continuous delivery
  • Continuous deployment
  • Systematic literature review


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