March 27, 2024

From zero to hero: Creating automated, self-service database change workflows with Liquibase [success story]

In just five months, one Liquibase customer automated 11 database pipelines and eliminated their manual database change reviews, reducing them by 90% and recovering the 20% of database team resources previously focused on manual change management. 

Here’s how this logistics company implemented Liquibase database change management automation with the help of Liquibase Professional Services.

Struggling with manual database change management

This team needed to automate a dozen pipelines so they could ditch their manual review process and free up time to focus on what’s next – innovations and evolutions in infrastructure that propel the business instead of slowing it down (by way of the application development and data pipeline bottlenecks). 

"Part of the reason we need Liquibase automating these pipelines is to free up time to focus on what's next," says the company's data management and business intelligence manager. "We need to open up bandwidth to set higher standards and enable more flexibility and scalability with other modern data store technologies.”

To achieve this, the team partnered with Liquibase Professional Services to address challenges including:

  • 20% of the database team’s available time/workload is spent on manually reviewing database change requests
  • Nearly two dozen application development teams submitting change requests simultaneously
  • Insufficient integration of ServiceNow and Jenkins hindering both platforms (and the whole workflow)
  • Long troubleshooting timelines without visibility to aid root cause analysis and remediation
  • Compliance, including SOX and other internal controls and approval gates
  • Under-skilled developers writing low-quality code

Even though they faced an uphill battle through complex enterprise pipelines, the team had already successfully secured buy-in on the business case for database DevOps. That allowed them to charge ahead with the Liquibase product they needed, plus Professional Services support to sit at the table and guide implementation. With one-fifth of the team already tied up on manual change reviews, they needed a pro on the team to spare for setting up automation, so Liquibase filled the role. 

Complex enterprise pipelines and lofty automation goals

For this team’s integration of database change management into its enterprise CI/CD process, Liquibase needed to be implemented across all pipelines, each including:

  • Up to four development environments
  • At least one QA environment
  • Multiple production environments

Tooling to be integrated included Oracle databases and Oracle Data Service connections, as well as:

  • Bitbucket (source code repository)
  • CloudBees Jenkins (build automation)
  • JIRA and ServiceNow (ticketing)
  • Nexus (artifact repository)
  • Jenkins (credentials)

After understanding the database deployment pipeline, Liquibase Professional Services facilitated strategic conversations to identify the technical and business goals that would guide their efforts. 

Business goals

This logistics company’s database team workshopped with Liquibase Professional Services, and the groups focused on three primary goals:

  1. Eliminate the need to devote 20% of the database team to manual change management by…
  2. Developing a fully automated deployment strategy and…
  3. Enabling automated, self-service database change deployments by developers

Additionally, the following milestones were identified as crucial to the reliability and longevity of the automated pipelines:

  1. Minimize risk involved with giving development teams self-service automated deployments
  2. Enable the DBA team as subject matter experts (SMEs) on Liquibase to provide long-term support and training
  3. Streamline production deployments by decreasing the number of approval gates 
  4. Ensure Liquibase deployments consistently meet SOX auditing requirements
  5. Include all environments from development to production in the release pipeline

Technical goals

Liquibase’s implementation also needed to achieve technical goals to keep the pipeline secure, efficient, and fast:

  • Integration with ServiceNow and Jenkins
  • Secure handling of database credentials
  • Governance to enforce company policies and avoid downtime

With these goals and needs in mind, the database and Professional Services team got to work. 

The path to automation 

First a proof of concept was created for the company’s core application pipeline, integrating ServiceNow, Oracle databases, and Oracle Data Services. By mapping out the ideal Liquibase pipeline that would streamline, accelerate, and shift-left the database change workflow, the combined team aimed to: 

  • Eliminate the reference database
  • Eliminate artifacts
  • Leverage Liquibase Labels 
  • Package and deploy in one step in Jenkins and ServiceNow
  • Expand the pipeline to lower environments
  • Templatize Jenkins scripts
  • Centralize rules repositories

Professional services also enhanced pipeline configurations with:

  • A centralized workspace for administrators
  • SQL timeout to prevent hanging deployments
  • Pipeline labels

The Liquibase Professional Services consultant held contractor-level access to the company’s systems and project management tools throughout the process, allowing a cohesive working relationship that accelerated implementation. Her immersion in the team’s culture, technology, and workflows allowed for an optimally tailored implementation combining best practices with organizational nuances. 

Liquibase also supported the needs of the company’s under-skilled developer team, which struggled with writing SQL scripts for database changes. By leveraging Lqiuibase’s support and best practices, these developers learned proper coding that effectively supported the automated pipeline and leaned on templatized workflows for added confidence. 

"I’ve worked with a lot of different vendors, and no one has ever owned and drove a project like Liquibase,” the team lead says. “Not only did they get done what they set out to do, they taught us how to get it done once they’re gone. The experience was just fantastic, from start to finish.”

The benefits of automating change management

In merely five months, this logistics company’s database team had 11 automated pipelines up and running, eliminating the need to continuously relegate 20% of team capacity to manual database change reviews. With Liquibase in the pipeline, only a few special-case change requests require manual intervention, a 90% reduction from before Liquibase. 

Making the workflow even more valuable to the team is its seamless integration with ServiceNow and automation throughout every stage, shifting left. 

Positive feedback about the simplified developer experience for requesting and deploying changes is most notable in the database team's day-to-day work. Critically, they maintain SOX compliance and have simplified approval processes to remove gates that often slow deployments.

Primary results and benefits


  • Eliminated the need for 20% of team resources delegated to manual deployments
  • 90% reduction in manual deployments
  • Freed resources from manual reviews to focus on more valuable initiatives


  • Enabled self-sufficiency for development teams
  • Eliminated the need for database team involvement in 90% of deployments
  • Removed approval gates
  • Trained Liquibase SMEs to expand implementation


  • Minimized failure rate for automated deployments
  • Minimized risk with automated testing and validation
  • Faster remediation with granular workflow visibility and “chain of custody”

Developer experience

  • Minimized developer effort and maximized simplicity 
  • Streamlined dev experience across Jenkins, Git, and ServiceNow 
  • Elevated developer confidence in writing database SQL script
“Even with two fewer people on the team, we don’t notice a change in workload because of what Liquibase automates for us,” the team's manager explains. “By enabling self-service database changes, we’ve taught them to fish.”
"Feedback from the developers was that it really improved their work life,” another database team member added. "With the cumbersome process now automated, they found it much more streamlined. It’s made them very happy.”

The resulting automated pipelines allow this logistics company’s database team to do more with less. They’ve taught the development team how to fish — manage database changes — so that both the application and database teams can breeze through updates with confidence and then move on to more valuable matters. 

The application team now manages its own self-service database deployments – bypassing the database team and deploying in seconds, not days. And with multiple Liquibase subject matter experts (SMEs) on the team who have even been taught how to train others, pipeline automation can continue to evolve to the organization's changing needs. 

By embracing automated self-service database change management with Liquibase, this data-driven enterprise streamlines its deployment processes to set the stage for future database management innovations.

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