The UK-based European affiliate of a leading workplace solutions provider faced increasing complexity in servicing the global operations of its clients as it expanded its wallet share through a variety of products and services. With 86000 lines stocked across 14+ countries in Europe, this company provides a wide range of products and services from office supplies, computers, and printers, printing, and document services to business services such as integrated office solutions and facility management. Its strategy of providing localized account management for global clients under a single umbrella to reduce their TCO(Total Cost of Ownership) requires effective controls using robust reporting and BI(business intelligence) to manage a variety of KPIs customized to each client. The company’s customers need–
• a global dashboard to monitor the progress against their business objectives, global spend visibility, handle currency transitions.
• Performance reporting and periodic updates on operational KPIs on their defined core and non-core items through dashboards like – daily/weekly/monthly/quarterly dashboards
• Reports to help identify process improvements, efficiency gains, and savings in indirect costs.
The company decided to convert out of its legacy crystal reports as it was going out of support. Jaspersoft was chosen to create a scalable, customizable, and cost-effective reporting platform embedded into the company’s customer-facing applications. The company chose Data Terrain to lead this transition based on its reputation for fast-paced and high-quality transitions using its automated approach. Time was of the essence as the customer wanted the reports converted while crystal reports were still supported and had faced technical hurdles in adopting Jaspersoft.
DataTerrain was tasked with bridging skill gaps faced by the company, help them overcome multiple technical challenges in translating unique crystal reports implementations, and ensure they continued to meet or exceed business requirements after transition to Jaspersoft. Since speed was the key for the company, DataTerrain also agreed to complete automated transition and validation in its environment hand over the final product to the company’s environment.
DataTerrain’s unique automated remote transition approach
DataTerrain project team deployed its proprietary automation-led remote transition approach for this project. Its zero-defects philosophy emphasized zero disruption to the customer. DataTerrain’s SMEs(subject matter experts) customized their phased methodology to the specific needs of the customer and the problems that needed to be solved. An overview of the key activities in each phase is provided below –
1.) Current state assessment, requirements detailing, and set up – As a first step, DataTerrain set up an environment on its servers to prepare for remote transition. Crystal report files received from the customer were imported into this environment and a detailed analysis of the existing reports was carried out using DatTerrain’s in-house automated utility. This included Complexity analysis for the input crystal reports using information such as the count of each component like Total Blocks, Table, Chart, Pivot Table, Groups conditional formatting, Stored Procedures, Sub Report, and Formulas. During this phase, potential crystal reports features that are implemented differently in Jaspersoft were identified and suitable actions required to meet the requirements were determined. Also, potential transition issues were noted and appropriate manual interventions were planned. A detailed project plan was created based on this information and key stakeholders signed off on it.
2.) Automated transition and validation – DataTerrain’s Crystal to Jaspersoft converter was used to convert the reports one to one from the source to the target environment followed by automated validation. Some of the key activities performed during this phase include –
a. Crystal reports mapping to .ttx files and making necessary changes to field names and preparing suitable config XML files with config parameters to be used for each report
b. Execution of the transition process for individual crystal reports
c. Taking a Jaspersoft native approach using its unique capabilities and nuances of the customer environment to translate features and adhere to best practices. For example, using a background band approach for report borders, sub reports, and usage of barcode components with Barcode4J libraries.
d. Automated validation by comparing outputs in crystal reports and Jaspersoft to match data, formats, and pixel to pixel alignment for pixel-perfect outputs like invoices.
3.) Customer acceptance – The converted reports were on boarded to the customer environment by the customer technical team and this was followed by validation and acceptance by their relevant stakeholders. Since customer associates were involved from the outset and during every project milestone, there were no unexpected outcomes for the customer, and acceptance was completed quickly.
The DataTerrain Difference
The transition to Jaspersoft was completed on time despite a challenging schedule and well in time before Crystal reports went out of support. DataTerrain also addressed the technical challenges faced by the customer within the budget. The following were noted by the client as the key differentiators of DataTerrain’s transition service –
1.) Deep technical skills – The DataTerrain SMEs team brought deep technical expertise and experience in both crystal reports and Jaspersoft. Issues faced by the client’s technical teams were seamlessly addressed in a short time by the SMEs. For example, DataTerrain developed a solution to implement Java expressions as an alternative to Jasper expressions which were not supported in the client environment.
2.) Delivery acceleration using the global delivery model – DataTerrain team members from their global delivery centers kept project activities moving round the clock to accelerate project completion.
3.) Remote transition to save time – DataTerrain completed the transition and validation remotely and in its environment, saving set up time and resources for the customer.
DataTerrain helped the customer mitigate a major risk by quickly helping them convert to Jaspersoft before crystal reports went out of support. With a feature-rich, customizable, scalable, and economic solution now in place, the customer is better positioned to help its global clients improve their operational KPIs and achieve their business objectives.