Change failure rate is a critical metric for engineering leaders, especially in software development and DevOps. Monitoring and reducing change failure rate can significantly impact your team’s efficiency and the overall success of your projects. In this article, we’ll explore what change failure rate is from the DORA Metrics perspective, its impact on organizations, common causes, detection methods, strategies to reduce it, and how Oobeya’s unique approach can help. 

What is Change Failure Rate? 

Change failure rate (CFR) measures the percentage of changes or deployments that result in failures in production. This includes bugs, errors, or any issues that require a rollback or a hotfix. Understanding and tracking change failure rate is crucial for maintaining high-quality software delivery and improving your team’s performance. 

At its core, change failure rate reflects the reliability and stability of your development and deployment processes. A high change failure rate indicates frequent issues that disrupt operations, while a low change failure rate suggests a well-designed process with fewer interruptions.

Moreover, change failure rate is one of the four key metrics defined by the DevOps Research and Assessment (DORA) group, providing a comprehensive framework for measuring the performance of software delivery teams. By focusing on change failure rate, organizations can gain insights into the effectiveness of their DevOps practices. 

DORA Metrics - Change Failure Rate

DORA Metrics – Change Failure Rate

The Impact of Change Failure Rate on Organizations 

High change failure rates can have several negative effects on a software organization, including: 

  • Increased Downtime: When changes fail, systems can become unstable or completely inoperative, leading to downtime that affects both internal operations and customer-facing services. This downtime can result in significant financial losses and damage to the organization’s reputation.
  • Higher Costs: Fixing failed changes consumes resources and time, diverting your team from working on new features or improvements. The costs associated with addressing these failures include not only the time spent by developers but also potential lost revenue from service interruptions.
  • Lower Team Morale: Persistent failures can demotivate your team, leading to lower productivity and higher turnover rates. A high CFR often signals underlying issues in the development process that need to be addressed to maintain a positive and productive work environment. 

Common Causes of High Change Failure Rates 

Several factors can contribute to a high change failure rate: 

  • Inadequate Testing: Without comprehensive testing, bugs, and errors can easily slip into production. Automated testing, though highly effective, is not always utilized to its full potential, leaving gaps that manual testing cannot always cover. Comprehensive test coverage is essential to ensure that all possible scenarios are considered before changes are deployed.
  • Complex Deployments: When deployment processes are overly complicated, the risk of errors increases. Simplifying these processes can help reduce the likelihood of failures. This often involves streamlining deployment pipelines and automating repetitive tasks to minimize human error.
  • Poor Communication: Miscommunication about changes, requirements, or deployment procedures can result in avoidable errors. Establishing clear communication channels and protocols is essential to reducing these risks.
  • Lack of Automation: Manual processes are inherently more error-prone compared to automated ones. Automation not only reduces the risk of human error but also ensures consistency and reliability in deployments. 

Methods to Detect Change Failures 

Detecting production failures or incidents promptly is essential for minimizing their impact. Effective detection methods include: 

  • Automated Testing: Implementing continuous integration and automated testing to catch issues early. Automated testing ensures that each change is thoroughly vetted before it reaches production, helping in identifying potential failures and addressing them promptly.
  • Monitoring and Alerts: Using monitoring tools (e.g., New Relic, Datadog) to track performance and set up alerts for anomalies. Real-time monitoring allows for quick detection and resolution of problems, minimizing downtime and its associated impacts.
  • User Feedback: Collecting and analyzing user feedback to highlight issues that escaped initial detection. User feedback can highlight problems that were not identified during testing or code reviews, helping to refine and improve the development process. 

How to Reduce Change Failure Rates 

Improving your change failure rate involves several strategies: 

  • Enhance Testing Protocols: Strengthen your testing processes with comprehensive test coverage and automated tests. Automated testing ensures that each change is thoroughly vetted before it reaches production, reducing the number of failures.
  • Simplify Deployments: Streamline your deployment procedures to reduce complexity and errors. Simplifying these processes helps in minimizing the risk of failures and often involves automating deployment processes and reducing the number of steps required for a deployment.
  • Foster Communication: Encourage open communication and collaboration among team members. Clear documentation and regular meetings can significantly improve team coordination and reduce the risk of failures.
  • Implement Continuous Delivery: Adopt continuous delivery practices to ensure small, incremental changes that are easier to manage. Continuous delivery involves making frequent, small changes that are less likely to cause major disruptions, reducing the overall risk of failures. 

Change Failure Rate Detection with Oobeya 

Oobeya offers a unique solution for tracking and improving change failure rates. By leveraging DORA metrics and advanced monitoring tools, Oobeya provides accurate detection and actionable insights to help you reduce your change failure rate. Our approach includes: 

  • Manual and Automatic Detection: Oobeya combines manual checks and automated processes, including Oobeya’s own API for setting deployment health statuses and detecting hotfix deployments by analyzing branch naming patterns.  
  • Tracking Incident Management Tools: Oobeya integrates with Application Performance Management (APM) and Incident Management tools to actively monitor production incidents and calculate CFR. 
  • Comprehensive Reports: Detailed analytics to identify trends and areas for improvement, helping to address the root causes of failures effectively.

For a more in-depth look at how Oobeya can help you manage change failure rates, check out our guide on DORA metrics and production failure detection. 


Monitoring and reducing change failure rates are crucial for maintaining high standards in software development and DevOps. By understanding its impact, identifying causes, and implementing effective detection and reduction strategies, you can enhance your team’s performance and the quality of your deployments. Oobeya’s unique approach to change failure rate detection offers an invaluable tool for engineering leaders committed to continuous improvement.  

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