Revamp legacy BI app for insurance powerhouse with modern flair.

January 21, 2024
2 mins read

TLDR:

  • Symfa, a company specializing in preparing data and generating reports for insurance clients, has modernized its legacy business intelligence (BI) application.
  • The application was complex, handling data from multiple sources in a 7TB database.
  • Symfa optimized the application by reducing the database size to 300GB, improving report generation speed and allowing for increased partner participation.
  • Power BI was initially used for report generation but struggled with the volume of data, prompting Symfa to shift to DevExpress.
  • DevExpress streamlined the reporting process and made it more efficient.

In a bid to revolutionise the landscape of Business Intelligence (BI) applications, Ilya Mokin, Head of R&D at Symfa, unveiled the intricate details of their recent BI modernisation project. Addressing the common challenge of sluggish reporting, Mokin shed some light on the hurdles faced, from onboarding complexities to navigating intricate business logic. Symfa, renowned for its innovative approach, specialises in preparing data and generating reports for insurance clients. The BI application, utilised by employees and partners, facilitates tracking insurance program revenue performance. The user-friendly interface, accessible through the client’s website, empowers partners to analyse performance metrics with customisable filters and visualisation tools.

Upon joining the project, Symfa encountered a complex infrastructure, requiring swift adaptation. Collaborating with the previous vendor, they deciphered intricate ETL logic and scripts while addressing challenges introduced by the prior team’s workarounds. The transfer of project ownership within a month posed a daunting task, but Symfa’s team navigated the complexities efficiently, a common feat in software project transitions.

The application processed data spanning a two-year period, aggregated from diverse sources within a colossal 7TB database. Despite limited user access, the sheer volume of data presented challenges with the chosen reporting tools. Symfa tackled this hurdle by optimising the calculations logic, eliminating redundant data and reducing the database size to a more manageable 300GB. This strategic move not only enhanced report generation speed but also paved the way for increased partner participation. The reduction in database size proved instrumental for the insurance client, enabling the incorporation of additional partners and seamless performance report creation. Symfa’s optimisation measures alleviated concerns related to database maintenance, operational efficiency, and storage capacity. The project’s success is evident in the controlled growth of the database and extended Azure capacities, ensuring long-term viability.

Symfa faced the challenge of consolidating disparate visualisation tools, including Power BI, in-house reports, and MS Reporting tools. Generating reports with Power BI became an arduous task due to the intricate report structures, challenges with third-party access (as reports were restricted on a limited-access website), and the overwhelming volume of data. The limitations of Power BI led developers to continuously assist business users and devise unconventional methods to make the tool compatible with the project. However, Power BI struggled with the sheer data volume, occasionally necessitating additional rounds of data denormalization. These manipulations proved to be both tedious and costly for all involved, prompting the customer to abandon the initially promising concept. Therefore, despite the allure of empowering business analysts with Power BI, practical issues such as versioning, deployment complexities, and unsuitability for specific reports prompted Symfa to shift to DevExpress. This transition not only addressed existing bottlenecks but streamlined the reporting process, making it more efficient.

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