Katerra achieves 90% cost reduction in employee onboarding to support its aggressive growth
Katerra is a new class of Silicon Valley companies which is a construction company but it’s actually a technology company. It has taken a different approach, “A technology company at heart, we’re applying tested systems approaches from other industries to design and construction”, spells out Katerra’s vision.
Katerra is following a backward vertical integration strategy of integrating technology, design, procurement, manufacturing, and construction under single management removing middlemen and speeding the construction process. It is creating a global supply chain by acquiring companies and building its own factories and facilities. All of this means fast growing employee base through the integration of acquired companies and challenges of onboarding new hires and merged employees.
Katerra has been a fast-growing company since its founding in 2015. It had 650 employees in 2017, distributed across US and international locations. Katerra is continuing to acquire companies in its space and creating facilities and factories following its strategy of consolidating supply chain for construction industry.
For the IT operations, it means an increased workload of onboarding new employees, creating organizational structures, and providing and controlling role-based access (RBAC) through security groups. Katerra also wanted to create a welcoming environment for newly acquired employees through smooth onboarding, access setup, and a welcoming communication process.
Struggles and Pains
With aggressive growth and the desire to provide an environment to its employees that encourages innovation, creativity, and collaboration, Katerra was facing resource challenges to perform routine, tedious and costly, yet the very important job of onboarding employees, setting up their accounts, email, security groups and distribution lists. It all mattered to make a new hire part of the company. IT operations also had to make sure that the organizational changes and realignments were smooth for existing employees.
For a typical new hire, the manual process will involve the following steps:
This set of steps will typically take at least 2 hours or more of productive sysadmin and HR time. There were unavoidable delays in response since sysadmin had other more critical tasks to attend to. These repetitive and tedious tasks were neither appealing nor justified the use of time spent by highly skilled sysadmins. The fallouts from the manual process would create unpleasant employee experiences as well back and forth and last-minute firefighting and escalations. In addition, any delay in new hire account creation was lost productive work time.
Delay in removing access for terminated employees meant security and compliance issues in addition to potential reputation risks in case of sensitive terminations.
Katerra engaged RoboMQ for its Employee Lifecycle Management and Identity Provisioning which is offered as fully managed Software as a Service (SaaS). RoboMQ fully automated employee onboarding, life cycle management, role-based access, and memberships for internal communication lists. It automated all aspects of the employee life cycle to provide smooth and engaging work environment for new hires and acquired employees from the first hour.
The integration ran on autopilot and notified of any exception via email and creation of a case in the service desk so that IT operations can react to issues. The amount of work previously done by sysadmins was literally reduced to zero. Imagine the direct cost savings of 2 hours of sysadmin time for Katerra that grew from 650 employees in 2017 to 3500 employees in a year in 2018. At $80 per hour sysadmin cost, it adds up to $456,000 in direct cost savings. Add to it, indirect benefits and risk mitigation through:
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