Sparx Systems Enterprise Architect Review

Provides a centralized, self-regulating standardized repository of architectural artifacts which can take in or spit out a custom selected subset of these artifacts

What is our primary use case?

Creating a repository than everyone can work on for an entire enterprise and then creating a custom fit set of concepts, tools and process.

How has it helped my organization?

It provides a centralized, self-regulating (like a spreadsheet is self regulating) standardized repository of architectural artifacts which can take in or spit out a custom selected subset of these artifacts in a wide variety of forms including diagrams, spreadsheets, MS Word documents, tables, xml, JSON, etc. By allowing extreme customizability, it has drastically reduced learning and ramp up time for new uses.

What is most valuable?

Automated reporting saves me a kazillion hours a week of cutting, pasting and editing.

Profiles and Stereotypes allows me to reduce the learning curve for newbies by 95%

The automated charts and graphs hold great appeal for business types and its ability to connect with so many other tools (DevOPs, Jira, etc) make it a great enterprise level hub.

What needs improvement?

Their business model does not include consulting services but this can be a strength in some cases.

Companies that include or even highlight the consulting arm of their companies can easily create a situation in which the on site staff become dependent on the vendor consultants and are unable to progress without them.

Knowing which button to select or which icon to click on is one thing but understanding how a tools like this fits in to the overall methodology takes an in company investment in integrating the tools and software process.

I've worked for most of the big name vendors and I know first hand that the only real way to learn is to roll up your sleeves and start using the tool on a regular basis.

Training and instruction are very available for Sparx via webinars, videos, pdfs, whitepapers and email support which I have always found to be first rate.

In addition to the huge number of manuals, videos, webinars and forums available, just googling a Sparx issues is likely to provide with a huge number of hits to find just what you are looking for.

It's huge user base (750 K) is a big advantage.

Yes one must invest a little time in learning how to use the tool.  Using the cup o soup paradigm, "just add hot water" will not work. If you want that , stick with Visio,

For how long have I used the solution?

12 years

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Perfect - never had any problems.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Perfect - never had any problems.

How are customer service and technical support?

Though only available by e-mail they really know their stuff and respond very quickly.

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

Visio - it's like comparing crayons and paper to a spreadsheet.

BizzDesign - a very polished tool but much less flexible and customizable than Sparx EA. Also much more expensive.

How was the initial setup?

No - install, run and if you want a repository run a db script.

YOu need to know how to run a database script.

What about the implementation team?

In house ( myself)

What was our ROI?

I can conservatively estimate that expert users double their production and novice users gain 10% The more you use it for the more savings you will see.

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

The savings in license fees more than allows you to invest in a little training but get someone good.

The biggest challenge you will have with Sparx EA ( or any other modelling tool) is fully leveraging all the features it has to offer.

Too often, companies don't invest a little time in training  and it ends up being used as a drawing tool which is like using a smartphone only as a calculator.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Yes, but for the combination of price and value, no one beats them. Now if you want to pay a million dollars there's a lot to choose from.

While I've often heard the large million dollar tools tout how much more powerful they are I have yet to see anything they offer that Sparx EA doesn't.

What other advice do I have?

Watch out for fraudulent consultants who spout jargon but know nothing about modeling. Make someone show you the real stuff they have done.

Look for someone who can explain modern modeling techniques and concepts in a very understandable and intuitive way. If someone spouts too much jargon, watch out.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?


Which version of this solution are you currently using?

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