What is most valuable?
Automated document generation is a real time saver , no more cut and paste, no more keeping track of which diagrams are in which reports, no more last minute update panics. Just click a mouse and you've got an up to date report.
Customized profiles allow you to create entities that are custom engineered to your organization. Do you want to separate non-functional requirements into two types, say high and low priority, with each one having custom tags such as owner, why needed, history, date needed and authorizer for the high priority you can have it all built in to a tool set.
How has it helped my organization?
In one organization, it allowed teams and team members all over the world to collaborate and sync up on specific detailed parts of the solution or model easily with a minimum of fuss by sharing the repository instead of having to e-mail diagrams or search through SharePoint to find the right diagram. Its easy to bookmark a diagram in a repo so someone else can open their EA client and quickly find and even modify it directly, if appropriate
What needs improvement?
Sparx EA has always had one strong negative that has kept it from dominating the market ( not counting the fact that the big guns can out market Sparx).
Its best features are not intuitive or easy to learn. Most companies I have worked with, when I see what they are doing with it , are not using more than 5% of what they could and should be doing with it.
I've even seen reviews of the product by people who worked with it in which they complain that it can't do things that it most definitely can do(e.g. I've seen it referred to as an exclusively single user tool).
Yes there are courses available but it's counter productive to teach everyone everything, don't confuse a business analysts by teaching him about class diagrams and document templates, don't teach a programmer how to create BPMN diagrams.
The webinars and videos help , there has been big improvement in the reference material that Sparx has made available.
For how long have I used the solution?
What was my experience with deployment of the solution?
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
How are customer service and technical support?
Very good. Technical Support
Very good although there is no phone support.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
I actually used a tool called TCC, Together Control Centre many years back which was very similar. It was created by Peter Coad of the (Coad-Yourdon methodology).
Unfortunately, some ruthless venture capitalist got control of the companies and tore it to pieces trying to make it a do all be all tool ("It's a floor wax - its a dessert topping").
How was the initial setup?
What about the implementation team?
In-house ( mostly myself)
What was our ROI?
Always hard to say because it depends how you measure it but 20% or more is quite feasible.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
Use floating licenses strategically.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
Power Designer, Corso, Rational,BIZZDesign
What other advice do I have?
Take the time to learn the features well - it will pay off.
I have been using it for six years and I am still learning new ways to leverage its features - not because of new versions but because of gaining an even greater understanding of the tool and how it works.
The number one recommendation I have about using this tool is to invest some time to understand how to use it properly.
Most people will use MSWord or Excel by just diving right in and using it and learning as they go, tinkering here and there and that approach works fine.
Do not use this approach with Sparx EA, you will end up using it as a fancy version of Visio which is like buying a Porsche to use for storage space.
Also focus your learning on what you will be doing with the tool ( i.e. if you will be creating requirements models don't waste time learning how to auto generate documents).