erwin Evolve Review

Helped us to define the configuration of our SAP software

What is our primary use case?

We are using it for our enterprise architecture reference, describing everything with it. We are describing our business process and we are trying to describe our data catalog. We are describing our complete applications assets, and we are interfacing to the CMDB of our providers. We are also managing some roadmaps for main transformation programs.

We have also linked it to our documentation repository, so we have a description of our data documents.

How has it helped my organization?

We are using it to deploy all the processes and IT interfaces for our biggest update project. Without this tool, we couldn't have made and defined all the new processes. Using the tool we have managed to document some 200 business processes. It also helped us to design our qualification review, because we are a pharmaceutical.

The most helpful part is when you try to integrate things; when you have to define some business rules and make sure that there is some integrity in these business rules.

In addition, it has helped us to define the configuration of our SAP software. 

These are the areas it has really helped us during the two last years. And now we are using it to evaluate our software application changes. It is really helpful because we have documented a lot of things and enables us to do impact analyses.

What is most valuable?

The feature that stands out for me is the ease of configuring objects and the screens to show them. It's really easy to add a new type of object in this reference. Creating a new type of object, using it, and evolving it a little bit in terms of what we can document about it are the main features that made us decide to use this provider. We started with a few objects regarding our architecture and now we have a lot of them but, we have grown up with the solution.

The other feature that helps us, now that we have documented all of these objects, is that we are able to exploit the data we have put inside with operational reports. The reports are easy to create.

What needs improvement?

There is room for improvement in the modeling. They are working on it, but we need a web-modeling tool.

They have improved the search engine a little bit but it can always be improved more. The more data you put inside it, the more you want to use it. 

At some point, it would also be helpful to have a better audit trail.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using EA Agile for about three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Now, the stability is good. But we had some problems to deal with because we were creating a lot of different objects. Those problems have now been settled. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It seems scalable. They have fixed the main issue which was the indexing process for the search engine. It had some bugs and was causing a lot of trouble. That was the main scalability problem but they have fixed these points and isolated the indexing process. So now everything seems to be to be working and scalable.

We have created a lot of projects, so we have really used it a lot. We are going to migrate to a change-management phase where we are going to work on keeping our data fresh. It's really a day-to-day tool now for all the service managers and our project teams.

Looking to the future, I expect we will use it as we are using it today.

How are customer service and technical support?

erwin's tech support is really fast to answer questions and really dedicated to solving the problems we have documented. Most of the time they find the solution's errors, but sometimes, because we were among the first customers on the cloud, we bring up some issues which take longer. But they always find a solution. For me, the tech support is good.

How was the initial setup?

In the beginning, it was not that complex, but it depends on your maturity and on what you want to modernize. That's what defines the complexity of what you are doing. We were backed up by Professional Services. Without them, we wouldn't have managed to make it simple.

It took less than three months to deploy it, and we are continuously improving it.

As for our implementation strategy, before this we had ARIS BPM and all our business processes were in PowerPoint or Excel. The application was described in our ARIS system and we decided to define a new meta-model inside erwin and migrate after that. For the description of our IT systems we created a project with our provider regarding what they were documenting in their CMDB. We launched the system after migrating all the stuff, and after that we made a change-management plan. So we had to connect to the legacy, clean the data, and start with the project.

What was our ROI?

It's really hard to measure a return on investment for this kind of solution, but I think we have seen ROI because it's helped us to secure our SAP project.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Yearly, our cost is €100,000.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated ARIS as well as a French solution called Mega HOPEX and another French solution called Bonanza.

The difference is the fact that in the erwin product, when you model, even if you don't have all the information, the content is on the web platform and ready to be discussed by those who need to access it. On the other platforms, it was noticeably less open. Because we had already used ARIS, we knew that it was really complicated and really annoying just to add an object. With erwin, you document what you can and it becomes available for people to contribute to and use. That's the main point. And Communicator, while they don't promote it, is good for us because we needed some documentation for the authorities.

What other advice do I have?

Start small. Even if you are thinking big, start small. Use the first object and, after that, make it evolve.

The biggest lesson I have learned from using this product is that because the product is really easy to configure and it's easy to create new things with it, sometimes you are expecting more from your contributors than they can do. The tool allows you to publish what you have. It's cool for that.

We are using it to document what we are transforming. We have decided to document our process applications and interfaces, which is a longer project. We are documenting the project as nodes or objects and we are documenting what we are creating. This works very well but the result is that we have thousands of objects to manipulate. So if we want to do an analysis, a statement, it's easy. But if we want to do a big analysis, EA Agile helps but it doesn't do it entirely for you. It's something that can help someone who has the mindset for this type of work but it won't do all the work for you.

The solution's collaborative web modeling capability for live, remote collaboration on a model works, but people in our organization are not ready to use it a lot. In the beginning, we thought that a lot of people would use it. But after a few months of use of the application, we figured out that you have to be an architect to take advantage of it. Someone who is not making maps or architectural things every day will not contribute. It's not due to the tool, it's due to the mindset.

In terms of the solution's integration capabilities with other tools in our system, there are pro and cons. The positive is that it's really easy to integrate because there is an API, but it's quite new. So it works, but not that much. There are some tools inside the solution to manage import and export of data and that works. But sometimes, it can be really massive and generate a lot of errors. You can integrate it with almost everything, but you have to watch what you are doing because when too much is integrated it's really hard to manage your errors. So you can integrate, but at some level you will need another tool.

It depends on what you are doing, but for example, it's easy to import a list. You can integrate it with Active Directory. We were the first customers to who have that functionality and it works really well. But to integrate with one of our providers took some time because we needed to align our vocabulary. Now we are integrating with our documentation library but we always do the same thing. We first try to do it manually and then automate it. Trying to automate it first is really not easy.

We looked at integrating the solution with the erwin Data Modeler and Intelligence suite but, at this moment we have not moved forward with that project. Right now, we're making a data catalog first and that is something we can do with the solution we have already bought. We have some 500 attributes and eight or ten project objects. That has been a big job for our business. We're taking things step-by-step. We may integrate those other modules in the future.

The ability of the solution's web platform to tell you which insight has been accessed the most helps us focus on what matters to our colleagues in business change activities, but not natively. We use another web analytics solution on it, so we definitely know who is looking at what. That helps us a lot because, having created a lot of objects, we want to know if an object is being used or not. And with the help of the editor, we track changes made by users. We have been able to define what we want to track. But it's not a native feature. To get the functionality you have to so some configuration.

The solution has back-office and front-office rights management. In the beginning, you have to be strategic about it to keep it simple. Otherwise, you can end up configuring something that is really big but not usable. After that, you define what you want to be automated inside. Because the tool is really customizable, you have to define some strict rules and learn to use them. That's pretty difficult. What is difficult, really, is to define what you want because the tool is really open; maybe too open.

We have about 30 people using it, overall, but it's not always 30 people at the same time. In the beginning, it started like that but now, effectively, every day we have less than 10 users who use it every day. We about 800 users, unique IDs, in total. We have something like 50 users on the site every day. Among them are project managers, service managers, and a lot of technical people.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public Cloud

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

Microsoft Azure
**Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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