Integration Platform Migration Project for a Top World-Wide Restaurant Chain

How JBS Partnered to Overcome Legacy System Challenges

Initiation and Partnership:

Our partnership with this company began in February 2023, originally to assess and bid for modernizing and improving their website and e-commerce systems. After some technical review, stakeholder interviews, and assessment-level conversations, they ended up engaging with us in September 2023 to help migrate their complex integration platform to a more robust, cost-effective, and sustainable environment. Over several months, collaborative efforts were made to understand the existing challenges and develop a tailored solution.

Project Scope and Challenges:

The company faced challenges with its existing workflow management tool, which was costly, complex, and unreliable. JBS was brought in to assess the situation and propose a solution.

The problems with the legacy platform were caused by its proprietary nature, limited flexibility, and lack of available expertise. Complex and inefficiently designed legacy platform jobs were contributing to performance issues and maintenance challenges.

Challenges:

  • Platform Inefficiency: The existing platform configuration was deemed inefficient and unwieldy for managing the complexity of integration needs. Cumbersome processes hindered operational efficiency and exacerbated the risk of errors.
  • Risk to Business Operations: The reliance on the legacy platform posed a substantial risk to company business operations. Any disruptions or failures within the platform ecosystem could result in service downtime, revenue loss, and adverse effects on customer experience.
  • Impending Contract Expiration: With the contractual agreement with the platform set to expire in March 2024, the company faces the imminent challenge of finding a viable alternative to ensure continuity in its integration processes. Failing to migrate before, the contract expiration could lead to further operational disruptions and contractual complications.

Integrations included:

  • Aloha, NorthStar, Crunchtime Connex, NCR, InComm: Restaurant POS systems and integrations.
  • Tableau: Robust reporting tool used by internal analysts and other stakeholders.
  • KDS (Kitchen Display System): System for managing kitchen orders in restaurants.
  • OLO: Order management/processing system for online orders.
  • Paytronix: Loyalty/rewards program management platform.
  • Xe: Exchange rate calculation service.
  • ReconNet: Property preservation work order management software.
  • Workday: Cloud-based human capital management software.
  • Yext: Platform for managing online presence.

Solution proposed:

The solution involved a phased approach to migrating scheduled tasks, jobs, and integrations from the legacy platform to a combination of VisualCron and SSIS. This transition allowed for better control, visibility, and scalability while eliminating licensing costs.  It would also simplify the resourcing model by reducing the need for external contractors.

  • The primary solution involved decomposing, understanding, and translating legacy platform task workflows to VisualCron and SISS. JBS engineers worked closely with SMEs and database engineers within the organization to understand the overall objective of each task and then collaborate as needed to port that task logic into VisualCron and SSIS.
  • Custom Scripting: Custom C# scripts were developed as needed within SSIS packages to optimize performance, solve complex tasks, and prevent unmaintainable workflows from being created – which would lead to greater debugging and maintenance challenges in the future.
  • Coding Standards: JBS engineers worked with the company team members to help co-define and implement coding and architectural standards to ensure consistency and reliability in job processing while reducing errors and minimizing complexity through one-off solutions.
  • Streamlined Workflows: Workflows were redesigned and streamlined to minimize complexity and maximize efficiency. This involved reworking the legacy platform logic into industry-standard approaches within SISS, resulting in simpler, more maintainable workflows. JBS and the company engineers worked together to determine which workflows could be combined and/or simplified.
  • Implementation of .NET Azure APIs: HTTP and event-based trigger APIs were also migrated out of the platform and deployed as custom .NET Azure APIs to leverage cloud-based resource scaling. Cloud architecture offered high scalability and afforded internal solutions to leverage asynchronous message processing.

Workflow:

  • Analyzed and documented existing legacy platform jobs with their SMEs.
  • Helped translate jobs and processes into VisualCron and SSIS workflows.
  • Tested and validated the new workflows through iterative development and UAT lifecycle loops.
  • Developed load testing scripts and capabilities ahead of production deployment in Azure to anticipate load impact.
  • Deployed Azure API application stack and its workflows and monitored their performance.
  • Provided training and support to company staff where applicable.

Software, Tools, Platforms Implemented

  • SSIS (SQL Server Integration Services): ETL tool
  • VisualCron: Task scheduling and automation tool
  • Azure DevOps: Collaboration and project management tool
  • Azure .NET: Development framework for APIs
  • Azure App Service: Hosts .NET Core APIs
  • Azure Service Bus: Facilitates communication between components
  • .NET Core: Used for developing APIs

Collaborative Efforts and Upskilling:

Throughout the project, mentorship and training were provided to the company team members to upskill them in new technologies and best practices.

This collaborative approach fostered knowledge sharing and empowered the internal team to manage and maintain the system effectively. Regular meetings and feedback sessions ensured alignment and transparency between all stakeholders.

Headcount:

  • 3 JBS developers
  • 3-5 Company internal database engineers

Legacy platform Migration Results:

The migration to VisualCron and SSIS resulted in significant performance improvements.

  • Reduced Job Processing Times: Job completion times for complex workflows were reduced through architectural simplification, code and component reuse, and multi-step task consolidation in VisualCron and SSIS. In some cases, completion times were significantly reduced from hours to minutes, leading to enhanced operational efficiency.
  • Minimized Errors and Downtime: Optimized coding standards and streamlined workflows minimized errors and downtime, resulting in smoother operations. This led to improved reliability and stakeholder satisfaction.
  • Improved Metrics and Logging: Designed and implemented collaboratively, new logging and alerting mechanisms are more efficient, better suited for troubleshooting defects, and lead to more focused notifications and informational data.
  • Azure Cloud Presence and Foundational Architecture: As a result of developing and deploying cloud-based resources, they now have a feature-rich engineering platform that can be scaled to future needs with minimal effort.

Project Metrics:

  • Project Duration: The project commenced on September 1, 2023, and reached completion on March 31, 2024, spanning 213 days (about 7 months).
  • Number of Jobs Converted: >100 jobs ranging from simple to very complex migrated from the legacy platform to VisualCron and SISS
  • Cost Savings: Estimated annual savings of hundreds of thousands of dollars by decreasing licensing fees, removing specialized resourcing needs, and improving operational support mechanisms
  • Hours Utilized vs. Hours Reduced: Around 1,200 hours were budgeted for the project, including planning, development, and implementation. Significant internal diagnostic, manual job execution, and problem-fixing hours were saved by the migration away from the legacy platform.

Post-Mortem and Future Collaboration:

Completion and successful results of the project earned trust and paved the way for future collaborations with this company. The partnership extended beyond the initial scope and indicated interest in further collaboration on future projects.

  • Earned Trust and Satisfaction: Through JBS engineers’ expertise, technical competence, and directly observable contributions, project stakeholders within the company were comfortable working with and relying on JBS to provide realistic feedback, creative suggestions, and solutions to problems throughout the course of the engagement.
  • Expanded Scope of Partnership: The partnership between JBS and this company extended beyond the initial scope of the engagement, with additional projects and deliverables, such as the deployment of real-time Azure APIs. This was a direct result of the relationship built upon ongoing value delivery and trust between the parties. They have expressed interest in further collaboration on future projects, highlighting the positive relationship established.