Big Brothers Big Sisters of America Saves 85% in Monthly Cloud Costs

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Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBSA) is widely known for creating meaningful, monitored matches between adult volunteers (“Bigs”) and children (“Littles”) across the country. Each of BBBSA’s 250 agencies manage these matches through an Agency Information Management (AIM) system, which stores critical match records — like match preferences, background checks, references, safety assessments, and ongoing satisfaction surveys — as required by BBBSA’s national child safety standards.

When BBBSA modernized its national safety standards, the nonprofit turned to us to implement them into AIM. However, AIM was no match for the new rules: The legacy system’s outdated architecture and technology stack were incompatible with the new operating standards, making it difficult to scale as business needs changed. Performance bugs complicated the compliance process, often forcing agents to waste precious time manually pulling data to complete all requirements.

Realizing AIM required more than just patch updates, we first re-architected the system to enhance match support and simplify the end-to-end compliance process for agents. As we continued to work side-by-side with BBBSA and learn the intricacies of AIM, we began implementing new features — like allowing agents to bulk upload documents in multiple locations within the system — to further alleviate the administrative burden of compliance. Following the success of the system re-architecture, we then migrated AIM from its hybrid on-prem/hosted VMs environment to an Azure PaaS environment — saving BBBSA 85% in monthly cloud costs.

With the scalability, security and high performance that Azure provides, BBBSA gained IT autonomy and was able to focus more on what matters most: Ensuring child safety and delivering higher-quality match support.

“Previously, we were getting a lower quality of service; we were paying more, but we weren’t getting the performance or the security for the money. The new Azure PaaS environment gave us that performance increase and security improvements while decreasing OpEx costs. Those extra savings gave us the ability to hire additional resources — that’s huge.”
-Jarrod Bell, Chief Technology Officer

Re-Architecting AIM to Enhance Big-Little Match Support

As BBBSA’s national standards evolved over the years, AIM’s performance diminished. The system’s complex business rules began to conflict with one another, creating an inconsistent, error-prone user experience. Tracking the lifecycle of a match within AIM became so difficult, agents often relied on time-consuming paperwork and spreadsheets to remain in compliance instead.

Working closely with BBBSA’s Product Owner, Melissa Scott, we became intimately familiar with the nonprofit’s business rules and explored new ways to make AIM easier for agents to use. “The AgileThought team came in and started learning the ins and outs of the system. They weren’t just looking for messy code — they dug into the business rules, learned how agencies needed to use AIM, and were able to offer valuable suggestions on how we could improve the system to enhance child safety,” said Scott.

Using C# and Visual Studio, we built a tool to scan broken match records, determine the appropriate fixes, and generate SQL scripts to automatically fix each record – ultimately repairing five years of broken records while protecting the integrity of any newly created records. We also evaluated BBBSA’s hardware infrastructure and helped them consolidate servers, shut down unnecessary developer machines in the cloud, and move to developer PCs with a secure VPN connection — a move that shortened development time by 20% and reduced development and QA costs by 75%.

The re-architected system allowed BBBSA’s agents to manage the end-to-end compliance process in one location rather than manually reconciling match records and documents. The redesigned system also included new features — like the ability to bulk upload documents and the option to select a “pending closure” status to prevent premature match closes — to help agents navigate the new operating standards. And most importantly, it standardized the compliance process so agents could spend more time monitoring the safety and success of their child-volunteer matches: “From a national perspective, being able to look at everything being put in the system — and ensuring all the agencies are in compliance — gave us confidence that agents were able to provide higher-quality support to both children and volunteers,” said Scott. “Agents were able to focus more on their job, instead of administrative work or piecing files together.”

Saving 85% in Monthly Cloud Costs by Migrating to Azure

While re-architecting AIM, we also saw an opportunity to reduce BBBSA’s monthly cloud costs by migrating it from a third party-hosted IaaS environment to an Azure PaaS environment.

We evaluated AIM’s servers to determine where we could achieve the most cost savings, mapped out a migration plan, then pulled AIM’s servers out of IaaS and redeployed them into Azure. Within two months, BBBSA began saving 85% in monthly cloud costs by operating AIM as a native Azure app. And thanks to the migration, BBBSA was able to direct those savings toward improving the agencies, the programs and the child-volunteer matches instead of investing in heavy IT and infrastructure.

Azure’s baked-in business continuity features also alleviated much of the operational burden on BBBSA’s IT team. Instead of having to manually test, deploy and evaluate various updates — like SQL server, IaaS, Windows Server, and ASP updates — these updates were entirely managed by Microsoft and minimized business disruption.

The modernized Microsoft tech stack — which includes SQL Azure Database, PaaS and Azure DevOps – also enabled BBBSA to deploy faster, more stable releases. AIM’s previous architecture lacked the scalability and stability necessary to accommodate new business rules, so most development time was geared toward fixing performance bugs. After the migration, BBBSA’s IT team used development hours to build new features and functionalities that delivered value to their constituents — not just toward keeping the lights on.

Migrating to Azure also gave BBBSA a self-service capability it previously lacked. Before, if BBBSA needed additional CPUs or memory storage space, they had to rely on their third-party provider. After the migration, BBBSA was able to scale up or down as demands fluctuated, monitor application performance, and solely control their operational costs. “Reducing the complexity and the number of parts we’re responsible for made this project particularly helpful for us,” said Bell. “By removing servers from the equation, migrating AIM to Azure, and running it as an app, I was able to easily see what did or did not work. It gave our team more autonomy.”

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