Kforce and SME: Pioneering Cost-Effective Cloud Solutions for Business

Kforce builds user confidence while reducing cloud computing costs by partnering with SME

About

Kforce Inc. is a solutions firm specializing in technology and other professional staffing services. Each year, it provides meaningful opportunities for approximately 30,000 highly skilled professionals who work with approximately 3,000 clients, including a significant majority of the Fortune 500. Kforce's promise is to deliver great results through strategic partnerships and knowledge sharing.

Industry

Employment Services

Use Cases

Performance Management

Data Stack

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Project at a Glance

To achieve cost reduction, improve transparency, and enhance operational efficiency, Kforce partnered with SME to evaluate and phase out outdated Extract, Transform, and Load (ETL) processes. By doing so, Kforce was able to gain a better understanding of its data operations and develop streamlined internal processes that are easily managed and adapted within their current systems. This approach has been proven successful in similar endeavors, leading to a notable decrease of 20-30% in both processing time and associated costs.

 

The Challenge

The current ETL process is a legacy-built process, a black box with inaccessible components to get the data from source to analyst using many steps and technologies. Without access to how it works or any of the underlying processes, proper administration and optimization is extremely challenging. As is, the current ETL process is expensive, and costs are increasing dramatically over time, even month to month. The large increases in the Azure cloud spend from this one process are problematic and detrimental to improvement projects as more and more funds are having to be allocated to cloud computing.

Additionally, the stability of the overall system was lacking and negatively impacted the business's confidence level when it came to getting data in a timely manner. In some cases, processing was not completed in time, causing other related jobs to fail or just failing outright. Because of it being a “black box”, the root cause was undeterminable. With processing delays and/or failures, resources have to be on call or are getting called away from improvement projects to make ad hoc fixes.

 

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Solution

To accomplish the goals, Kforce partnered with SME Solutions Group to look at the different methodologies and technologies that were used within the legacy ETL process and modify them to be more efficient.

SME’s Data Engineer Consultant (Paul Piotrowski) reviewed the legacy ETL process and suggested several different routes that would help accomplish the project's goals. By detailing the pros and cons of each, it was decided to “rip and replace” the legacy ETL process with a more robust and streamlined methodology that aligned with industry standards. In many cases, two or three of the steps used in the legacy ETL process could be removed when the new streamlined methodology was built out.

The streamlined methodology allowed for three separate processes to be phased out:

  • an old technology causing stability issues
  • a Microsoft technology that's being decommissioned
  • the black box preventing modifications and optimizations

The first two processes in the list above were previously not identified as an issue but were recommended for removal by SME’s Data Engineer as being beneficial for the stated goals.

 

"We didn’t know we were going to be able to get rid of or needed to get rid of some of the legacy processes, but we found out that we needed to, so that was a bonus.”

Kforce’s project leader, Jake Bingham

 

Jake commented on how “the open communication between our team and Paul provided value” to the project. “Paul provided regular updates about challenges and risks to the project and every week we get a breakdown of what's been going on, what's done, what’s next, roadblocks faced, and when those roadblocks have been cleared. I don't have to guess what is going on with the project because of the open communication and status reporting.”

 

Business Impacts for End Users

This project was a key step in building user confidence in Kforce's new modern data ecosystem - Information Marketplace.

The project combined three legacy processes into a new streamlined process that is more stable, more predictable and easier to govern. From the data consumer perspective, the benefit is that they have more confidence that their reporting systems are ready to go whenever they come in. “Now we don’t have to tell them their data is late going forward”, according to Jake, who is overseeing this project as it is one of the major business components of their overall Information Marketplace.

 

Results

It reduced the processing time of one of the legacy processes six hours down to 30 minutes for a delta load of the data. This significant reduction in how long it takes to process the data and get it out to the data consumers reduces various backlogs.

“It's like an electrical outlet, you know it’s there and assume it’s going to work. When it doesn’t, that’s a problem and creates angst across the group.” This project made the “outlet” more dependable, more reliable.

Additionally, Kforce learned a repeatable pattern that they can use later. They have already started incorporating additional pieces that use the same type of methodology in curating, grabbing, collecting the data, and performing detailed processes.

The results of the Kforce project align with those seen at other companies, which are now benefiting from a 20- 30% reduction in processing time and cost following a similar project.


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