What is most valuable?
Ease of report development is a key feature. Also, installation is largely automated. The nicest part of BOE remains the semantic layer (Designer), giving developers a powerful way to encapsulate business logic and push it out to users through Webi or WRC.
How has it helped my organization?
Because I am primarily an installation and configuration architect working independently through a separate company, the product itself doesn't necessarily affect us in a BI sense. That's really the big-picture issue within our community; that companies often misunderstand how BI is supposed to work and that in order for the business to really participate, there needs to be sufficient training and the cultivation of a "culture of BI".
What needs improvement?
I would like to see their data visualization products enhanced and made more robust and easier to implement. Most of the other parts of the tool are fairly easy to get going and it would help getting user buy-in if they could extend that across the entire platform.
Like we always say, the tool is only as good as the person using it. But SAP sort of dropped the ball with their 4.x release, leaving out features that we had become used to with 3.1, which was stable.
For how long have I used the solution?
We started with Crystal Enterprise 10 eleven years ago, transitioning through BOBJ R2, XI and now 4.x.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
BOE 4.2 is currently pretty stable in our experience and we already know that it can scale to any level. The only downside to that is cost.
How is customer service and technical support?
My personal experience with the SAP engineers is that they are very supportive and develop personal connections easily.
How was the initial setup?
Depending on whether you are doing a simple, one-machine install (single-stack) or clustering according to the sizing recommendations from SAP, it can go from easy to more difficult. But the process is thoroughly documented.
What about the implementation team?
We are more or less the vendor team for our clients.
Always determine your prerequisites before you kick off remotely or onsite. It can save a lot of grief. Have a detailed SOW and project plan that you adhere to as much as possible, but be flexible.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
We are operating in the Electronic Health Record space using Epic and BOE for reporting. Just work with SAP to make sure you have enough licenses but don't go overboard.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
I've evaluated other visualization tools, but BOE still has the best out-of-the-box enterprise security.
What other advice do I have?
Which version of this solution are you currently using?