September 8, 2017

Data Migration Speed Bump Smoothed

Alex Woodie

(Francesco Scatena/Shutterstock)

Fast growth was a both blessing and a curse for Kronos and its cloud-based payroll software service. But thanks to a solution that helped automate migration of clients’ existing payroll data into the cloud, the road looks clear for expansion.

Based in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, Kronos is a giant in the field of human resources, human capital management, and payroll software. Thousands of companies in a variety of industries, including more than half of the Fortune 1000, use Kronos software to automate HR and payroll activities for more than 40 million employees around the world.

The bulk of Kronos customers historically have run its software with on-premise servers equipped with a variety of operating systems, from Windows to Linux to IBM i. But lately, the cloud has beckoned for Kronos. The company says 90% of new customer bookings are for software as a service (SaaS) apps, and that its cloud now has 22,000 customers for its flagship cloud offering, called WorkforceReady, among others.

While this growth is certainly commendable for the privately held company with 2016 revenues of $1.2 billion, it didn’t come without its challenges. One of the biggest impediments to getting customers up and running in its cloud is the need to migrate its customers’ existing payroll and HR data from existing systems into its cloud offerings.

What made this data migration particularly onerous for Kronos was the numerous data formats that its customers used for complex payroll and HR data. To ensure accuracy during the data migration, Kronos professional services team would work with customers to generate reports that contained all the relevant customers data from existing systems.

While this approach provided accuracy, it also entailed hours of manual work, as Kronos professional services team had to re-type the data into the Workforce Ready offering. Kronos searched for a solution to help it automate this work, and eventually settled on a solution from a fellow Massachusetts company called Datawatch.

Datawatch’s Monarch solution is a Windows-based self-service data preparation tool that works with more than 30 data sources, including relational databases, NoSQL databases, and even Excel spreadsheets.  It has a special affinity for extracting the pertinent pieces of data from unstructured sources, including printed and digitized reports, and then re-creating the data relationships. The upshot of this unique approach is it gives customers access to critical data that might be squirreled away inside reports generated by old SQL queries or even old mainframe programs that companies are afraid to touch.

For the Kronos implementation, the humble PDF became Kronos’ favored medium for migrating data, according to Frank Moreno, vice president of worldwide marketing at Datawatch.

“Monarch provides the ability to automatically read a PDF and extract all of the data into a table of rows and columns, literally in seconds,” Moreno tells Datanami via email. “Once a data formatting model is created to meet the needs of the Kronos system, that model can be applied to any dataset, making the manipulations automated and repeatable.”

This saves Kronos’ professional services team a significant massive amount time during the cloud migration process, Moreno says. “HR and payroll data that was previously captured manually can now be electronically exported from other systems,” he says.

Bob DelPonte, vice president and general manager of Kronos Workforce Ready group, appreciates that time-savings. “With Monarch, Kronos can eliminate manual, time-intensive data manipulation, allowing faster data migration, accelerated implementation times, and an even better customer experience,” he says in a statement.

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