Sparx Systems Enterprise Architect Review

Good performance, integration, and responsive technical support

What is our primary use case?

Enterprise architecture: Capabilities and business services modeling, business processes mapping and analysis, project prioritization and planning (using ArchiMate and BPMN notations); 

Information architecture: Business information model (Information Entities modeling and Security Classification of entities (Availability, Integrity, Confidentiality)  (using UML notation and specific TAG values);

Solution architecture: Conceptual components architecture (using ArchiMate or UML notation);

Integration of all models in a central collaborative with multi-users, multi-domains, and a multileveled architecture repository structured and organized following the TOGAF 9.x Content model.

How has it helped my organization?

Supporting all of the important architecture modeling notations and all types and levels of architecture modeling in a secure, collaborative, and well-integrated model repository is really unifying and beneficial.

Having the possibility of integrating and sharing all architecture models inside a centralized repository for all architecture stakeholders provides immense and cohesive insight into all architecture domains and dimension interrelationships. 

The capability to analyze interdependencies between architectural elements makes for a very reliable comprehension of all architectural interactions, as opposed to trying to figure it out from a pile of Visio and PowerPoints (or any other diagramming tool) independent documents.

What is most valuable?

The product offers very good support for all mainstream modeling notations and architectural frameworks. It has a very complete and coherent environment for business, architecture, and solution modeling. If what you need is not directly available, you can extend the modelings capabilities to suit your specials needs (TAG values, metamodel extensions (MDG), scripting, API interfaces, ...).

It has a very stable and performant environment. This a necessary capability for supporting a large number and varied kinds of modelers (Business architects & Business analysts, Enterprise architects, Information architects, Domain & Solution Architects, Security Architects, ...), all working at the same time on shared and live models. 

The constant evolution of usability and integration capabilities: Nothing is perfect, but constant polishing and enhancement are reassuring. 

What needs improvement?

Even if there are web-based tools in the Enterprise Architecture tool ecosystem (like Prolaborate), the main modeling application is still a fat client application. For some organizations, it is still a concern and a significant disqualification criterion for adoption.

The capability to model and analyze while maintaining coherent traceability within different variants (variations or versions) of a future architecture has been greatly enhanced in the recent versions of Enterprise Architect. It requires a very mature, systemic, and methodic approach that is not easy to grasp for junior modelers. 

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Sparx Systems Enterprise Architect for eight years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

In eight years of enterprise-wide modeling with multiple architects and business analysts working day-in-day-out with the environment, we have never had a single major problem and we never lost integrity.

The tool is very robust but assuring complete integrity over time requires competent quality control.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Enterprise Architect is a very flexible and scalable tool. It can be set-up different ways to accommodate capacity, volume, and a number of simultaneous modeling users. 

How are customer service and technical support?

Almost never have to go through customer service/technical support but, the few times I needed it, they were very responsive and supportive. 

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

In different contexts and organizations, I have tried and used different modeling tools. That said, when I have the choice of tool to use for architecture modeling I always select Enterprise Architect for its usability (even though it is a complex tool), completeness, and extensibility.

How was the initial setup?

It is usually very simple and straightforward. The real work is setting the standard for collaborative work between teams and projects.

What about the implementation team?

For Enterprise Architect, it is usually very simple and I do it myself easily.

For efficient integration with other tools, I usually suggest going through a vendor team.

What was our ROI?

It was not measured recently, but being able to analyze traceability and architectural dependencies doing impact analysis has tremendous value. 

Avoiding multiple duplicated elements and being coherent and avoiding confusion about naming or modeling notations from different models or symbols from different modeling tool is very reassuring.

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

Define your immediate needs and objectives, start small and focused.

Identify some motivated champions inside your organization and find a coach to help them get to know the tools. 

Initially, get comfortable and efficient with the vanilla setup of the tool. Do not try to personalize or extend the tool unless you are confident that it will bring more benefits than confusion. 

Define templates and model examples to set the organizational standards for modeling. Evaluate your progress, adhesion to standards, and quality of models regularly. 

Identify other domains of modeling opportunities that could bring benefits to your organization. With experts and senior architects define a mid/long term vision and costs benefits for integrating all aspects of modeling that are important to you over time.

Annually, revised your mid/long term vision.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

In my career, I was involved in many modeling tool selection exercises in many organizations and had the chance to compare most of the available tools on the market (Rational Rose, RSM, RSA, IBM RDA, CaseWise, Mega, Aris, ...). To date, I haven't the opportunity to try and evaluate BiZZdesign.

What other advice do I have?

Hang around in the user's community to gain a perspective of what others do and don't do.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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