Continuous integration is an important support mechanism for the fast delivery of new features. However, its adoption in industry has often been problematic, partly due to social challenges. However, there is little knowledge of the exact nature of the challenges, and how different stakeholders perceive the need for and adoption of continuous integration. In this paper, we describe how the introduction of continuous integration was perceived by different stakeholders in an R&D program at Ericsson. The case provided a rare opportunity to study the adoption of continuous integration in a large distributed organization.
We interviewed 27 stakeholders and found differing perceptions of continuous integration: how suitable it is for the organization, how adoption should be organized, and whether it is possible to achieve sufficient quality through automated testing.
These differences in perception were mainly consequences of the geographic distribution. Based on the case study, we propose three guidelines. First, understand that the product architecture has a significant effect on the adoption. However, do not let architectural problems keep you from implementing continuous integration. Second, give the team members sufficient time to overcome the initial learning phase in the adoption. Third, avoid centralizing competencies to individual sites, and invest in cross-site communication.