"Centerprise is an 'all in one,' highly intuitive tool with a unified interface. It has given us speed, accuracy, and flexibility—features that those other solutions didn't give us."
Kris Birdyshaw, Sr. Systems Analyst, IT
"IT is no longer the backlog area preventing things from getting out the door. Our business customers' trust has gone up because they can quickly receive what they need since our hands aren't tied due to budget and technology constraints."
June Ebell, Technical Data Steward
Focus On The Family, a global nonprofit Christian ministry dedicated to helping families thrive, needed an integration platform to validate, cleanse, and convert incoming data. The data comes from multiple sources and contains duplicates as well as incorrect or missing information. Often, some of the demographics data, including names and addresses of donors, is missing or incorrect and needs to be updated. Centerprise was selected for its ability to meet this challenge as well as its superior usability, completeness of features, and performance.
Focus On The Family receives data about people making donations from different states and multiple sources in different formats. These formats include delimited, Excel, and fixed-length files, as well as printed text and PDF reports. The data often contains duplicates, missing, and incorrect information. This includes inconsistently formatted names and addresses, missing address information, and more. This data must be cleansed and reconciled with existing donor data before boarding onto the operational system. The IT team wanted to shorten their testing time and minimize the risk of integrating new data. Previously, they had been working with a multi-week to multi-month turnaround in building out ad hoc integration solutions and needed an ETL tool that would deliver flexibility, speed, and accuracy.
The integration process needed to meet the organization’s requirements was fairly complex and involved a series of steps and transformations that included receiving and decrypting data files, validating, cleansing, transforming, and boarding data. Additionally, all data had to be reconciled to ensure that no records were inadvertently omitted. In the past, the Company’s IT team had used SSIS jobs and others to attempt to meet their needs. SSIS, decidedly a programmer’s tool, proved difficult to learn and use and did not provide the required flexibility and agility to meet the goals of rapid turnaround time and data quality.
Focus On The Family’s data management group had prior experience with integration tools that did not deliver as promised and to ensure that the selected product met all their needs, they developed a model flow that represented their key requirements. They provided all potential vendors with the same information and then asked them each to design, develop, and execute a complete integration flow during the evaluation meeting.
In the past, Focus On The Family had tried data integration products that were difficult to learn and use, did not perform as advertised, or simply could not handle the complexities of its integration processes. To ensure that the selected product met its requirements, the data management group designed a “technology bake off” that required all potential vendors to implement part of their usage scenario in a live demo.
At the end of these evaluations, Centerprise was selected because it was the only product that met all the organization’s key requirements by demonstrating how the customer would be able to implement complex dataflows using a drag-and-drop interface. Additionally, Centerprise’s intuitive and streamlined user interface was rated higher than all the competing products.
After its initial Centerprise training, the organization’s data management team developed a series of complex integration jobs. One of the goals was to shorten development and testing time through the use of Centerprise. “Our QA and QC group has been able to reduce testing time due to the data preview feature,” explained June Ebell, technical data steward. “The data preview allows me to see the problems in the development phase, which saves time and minimizes risk when integrating something new into something existing.”
Within 30 days of starting the project, key integration jobs were developed, tested, and deployed successfully. The organization reports increased customer satisfaction, which they attribute to quick turnaround and improved data quality.
Focus On The Family has been steadily expanding its use of Centerprise’s integration capabilities to other business areas. They have been pleased to discover that they can now perform many complex tasks and print out a data flow, enabling their business people to understand what they are working on. The IT team also shared how pleased they are with Astera’s technical support team: “A pleasure point for me is that whenever I put in a ticket for a question or a request for something, I get an immediate response,” said Birdyshaw.
Astera’s Centerprise platform was the only product that met all the requirements, including flexibility and agility, as well as ease of use.
Over and above the many positive changes they have seen in their business, the IT team simply enjoys using Centerprise. “We absolutely love the product, it’s just so fun to work with,” said Ebell. When asked what the team's favorite feature is, Ebell replied, “The data preview is our favorite feature – it’s a huge time saver.”
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