Upgrading a business-critical ETL application for a testing services company improves the quality and speed of results-sharing

INDUSTRY
Commercial Services

SERVICES
Legacy System Modernization

The Story

Our client is a global provider of solutions that help employers ensure the well-being and readiness of employees. They specialize in drug testing, background checking, DOT compliance, and financial investigation services, touting an innovative technology platform to collect and share critical data.

The company’s ETL application ingests many different lab feeds, each designed differently with its own translator and parser. Over time, the feeds had become unstable—the data was not reaching our client’s database or was getting corrupted in transit. In order to expediently and accurately get results to customers, they needed to update their feeds: A too-large task for their small IT team. Meanwhile, our client had acquired another drug-screening company along with that company’s MRO application—but they didn’t have access to the original code. In order to keep the MRO up to their own rigorous quality standards, our clients sought a partner to help demystify the outdated application. We came in to kickstart progress, focusing on the mission-critical project of stabilizing the ETL feeds while conducting a thorough assessment of the MRO.

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Challenges

  • Several components of the ETL application were unstable, putting their primary revenue sources at risk ​
  • The application structure prevented us from separating out reusable code, with business logic scattered across database triggers, PHP, and Python scripts
  • There was little internal knowledge of how the MRO code functioned—it would take some sleuthing to map a modernization path
  • The team responsible for supporting our client’s IT infrastructure, operations, and development was understaffed and focused on day-to-day operations
  • Shifting priorities and confusion over requirements threatened to upend or delay the project

Solution

  • Engaged the management team directly to communicate risks, issues, and progress, request critical information, and maintain business alignment
  • Worked quickly to gain a deep technical understanding of the systems and performed a thorough assessment of the MRO
  • Introduced a .NET Core stack for the new ETL application and recommended an ASP.NET CORE web application to replace the MRO
  • cripted the database for per-developer use to remove the obstructions of working together in a gigantic, unwieldy database while testing the new system
  • Replaced massive technical debt with a modern, simplified, and more efficient solution by rebuilding the ETL application’s translator and parser

Results

  • Established alignment and buy-in on modernization efforts from both the business and technical sides of the organization
  • Stabilized the most unreliable components of the ETL application, meaning that our client’s largest revenue sources are safe
  • Established a reliable pattern for modernizing other components of the ETL application
  • The performant ETL system we designed reduces feed-processing time for critical customer data
  • Dramatically increased both the supportability and reliability of the ETL application and delivered recommendations for modernizing the MRO

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