02 Dec 2019 | Case Study

DocuSign Regains Engineering Time and Saves Money With Automated Data Pipelines

Ciara Rafferty
Ciara Rafferty
DocuSign Regains Engineering Time and Saves Money With Automated Data Pipelines
With Fivetran and Snowflake, DocuSign triples its data sources, refocuses its engineering efforts, and achieves greater visibility into data with 100+ BI dashboards.

Key Takeaways

  • With Fivetran connectors, DocuSign analyzes from 3x more sources than it was able to in the past.
  • The DocuSign BI team would have to double in size to achieve what it currently does with Fivetran.
  • DocuSign engineers can focus on core projects rather than ETL, and business teams can focus on higher-level functions like data cataloguing and enterprise dimensional modeling.
  • DocuSign was able to set up Fivetran and get data flowing into Snowflake within 20 minutes.
  • The business now has over 100 active dashboards in Qlik that people are working with daily.

Data Stack

DocuSign, the world’s leader in e-signature technology, helps organizations connect and automate how they prepare, sign, act on, and manage agreements. The publicly traded unicorn has multiple products and solutions for individuals and businesses of all sizes.

Connecting Fivetran and Snowflake

As a fast-growing business with a lot of data, DocuSign found that its SQL Server database was falling short of its needs, and decided to move to Snowflake. The business quickly saw the benefit of being able to scale compute and storage. “Snowflake has been a game-changer for us,” says Marcus Laanen, Senior BI Developer at DocuSign. “It is incredibly well-performing and fast. You run any SQL query as you would with any other system, but with Snowflake it performs so much faster.”  

After moving to Snowflake, DocuSign needed a solution to centralize not just its existing sources, but additional ones as well. “We needed to figure out the ecosystem around Snowflake,” Laanen says. “Replicating data from source to warehouse seems like a simple process, but it requires a lot of manpower to build and connect to various sources, often with complicated APIs, and then maintain those connections. It would have been months of effort with very senior, high-paid engineers.”

Laanen was able to set up Fivetran quickly and had the data flowing in no time: “We connected Fivetran to Snowflake on a 20-minute call. It was so simple, and that’s the beauty of Fivetran. Even if you don’t have any technical understanding of ETL or ELT, you connect A to B, wait until it syncs, and it’s done. Data replication no longer requires any IT skill set. Five years ago that wasn’t possible.”

DocuSign has used Fivetran for over two years. At the time, it was the only solution that worked with Snowflake. DocuSign trialed a few competitors as they entered the market, but found that Fivetran still came out on top. While the business still uses a few internally built connectors, it deploys 54 instances of Fivetran connectors.

Results of a Modern Data Stack 

3X Increase in Usable Data Sources. In SQL Server, the business analyzed data from six sources. Now it can bring data into Snowflake from those sources and a dozen more. “It has opened up quite a few additional use cases and data sources for teams,” Laanen explains. “Before, people were analyzing from the data within each system or locally by extracting data into Excel.”

Months of Time Saved. Buying rather than building was the clear choice for Laanen: “To build and maintain pipelines, we would need a lot of people. Each source has its own API and its own quirks. It would take a highly paid engineer anywhere from three to six months to build out a data pipeline and up to 20 hours a week afterwards to keep things running. Our team would have to double in size to be able to do what we’re currently doing with Fivetran.”

Refocused Energies Across Teams. More than freeing up time, Laanen says that Fivetran has enabled employees to do more: “Our engineers can focus on very core projects that aren’t just about getting data from A to B. Our business teams can focus on using the data in Qlik. The BI team has moved onto higher-level functions like data cataloguing and governance and enterprise dimensional modeling. Job responsibilities have shifted and new people have been hired to focus on things we couldn’t before, simply because we didn't have the data.”

100+ Dashboards in Qlik. DocuSign has been using Qlik as its dashboard visualization tool for over four years. With Qlik, it can make sense of large data volumes without having to query the underlying sources directly. “The beauty of Qlik is the self-service capabilities,” Laanen explains. “People in various business teams without a technical background can build out dashboards that others can then easily customize for themselves.” The business now has over 100 active dashboards in Qlik that people are working with daily. 

From a Past With No BI to a Future With No Building

“It is an ongoing process to become more and more data-driven,” Laanen says. “Five years ago we didn’t even have a warehouse, BI or dashboarding. Reporting was out of individual systems. Fast forward to where we are now: 80% of people in the company touch one of the 100+ Qlik dashboards in any given month. Most decisions are based on data, not gut feelings.

“We really like what Fivetran enables us to do. It is incredibly easy, fast and reliable. This has been a paradigm shift for us — it is the future of data pipelines and ETL and Fivetran is at the forefront of it. In ten years, everyone will use Fivetran or a service like it. No one is going to build data pipelines themselves. It’s a massive time and cost saver and a multiplier for the entire company. We don’t just use the product, we’re fans of the product.”

Ready to see the business benefits of fully managed and automated data pipelines? Sign up for a personalized demo of Fivetran or get started with your free trial today.  

About Fivetran: Shaped by the real-world needs of data analysts, Fivetran technology is the smartest, fastest way to replicate your applications, databases, events and files into a high-performance cloud warehouse. Fivetran connectors deploy in minutes, require zero maintenance, and automatically adjust to source changes — so your data team can stop worrying about engineering and focus on driving insights.

About Snowflake: Snowflake is the leading data warehouse built for the cloud. Its unique architecture delivers proven breakthroughs in performance, concurrency and simplicity. For the first time, multiple groups can access petabytes of data at the same time, up to 200 times faster and 10 times less expensive than solutions not built for the cloud. Snowflake is a fully managed service with a pay-as-you-go-model that works on structured and semi-structured data.

About Qlik Sense: A multi-cloud data analytics platform for modern BI, Qlik Sense enables businesses to discover data insights and drive data literacy throughout their entire organization.

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