What is our primary use case?
Our organization generates large reports. These are documents of around 200 pages. Our organization accredits hospitals, and we send surveyors into hospitals who then survey according to certain standards, and they write up a very large report. It's those reports that go out to the member organizations, so our use case is very large reports, but not necessarily a large volume of them.
How has it helped my organization?
It really hasn't improved our organization at all. We had a report-generator before, we have a report-generator now. It just means we're on a supported platform. Whereas before we were running services on something that we didn't actually have adequate support for, this new product does.
What is most valuable?
When it came down to the crunch, all the products we evaluated generate reports and were pretty easy to use. The support from Windward was one of the primary considerations. Even though we're based in Australia we did get good support for them, even considering the difference in time zones, and cost was another significant factor as well, it was competitively priced.
I think it's a bit more intuitive to use on the AutoTag feature, so that's a positive, but from the end-user perspective it generates a report exactly as we want it, so in a timeframe that's the same as before. I don't know if that's a good, or a bad, is it middle of the road. It meets our expectations.
What needs improvement?
It's pretty early stages. We haven't got any constructive feedback yet.
For how long have I used the solution?
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
It wasn't about stability. We had a couple of "teething" questions, and that was more about usability, how do we use the product. That was a learning on our side. Windward were really good in that, they did a screen-share with us, and actually worked with us to identify the problem and come up with solutions, so that was quite good. Again a very positive thing from Windward.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
We ran multiple reports concurrently, to the volume that we're likely to see, and had no issues. Again our workload is quite unique in that it's not volume-based. We only have 800 potential users.
How are customer service and technical support?
Exemplary. We have called a number of times, and normally it starts off with a "log-a-support-call" through their system. It gets acknowledged, we get an email acknowledgement of what's going on, they get in contact very quickly. They don't run a 24-hour service, but I think it's actually extended business hours, so they do cater for our requirements, being on the East coast of Australia. In the mornings we tee up with their afternoons, of the previous day.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
Our previous report-generator product, it performed just as well. As I mentioned before, they're large reports but small in volume. It's not like we're processing one or two-page documents and doing hundreds of thousands of them. These are 200-page documents and they're ad-hoc; so a user would select it, run a report, and then a report would be generated. I think we're getting performance around around 45 seconds for a 200 page document, and most of that was the actual running of the query.
I don't think we can actually build a report generator from scratch, so that's why we went with Windward. We were using Microsoft SSRS before, which was no longer supported by the vendor, and we also looked at another Australian-based product that does something similar, but we ended up going with Windward really for the level of support we got from them during our proof of concept, and also the printing as well.
How was the initial setup?
It was quite straightforward, I don't think we actually had any issues. We did put it on the test system to begin with, and we didn't have any issues that I can recall.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
I can't advise anybody about pricing and licensing, but it was competitive. We went and looked at the market and, for us, it met our requirements.
A lot of things we did look at were all volume-based, so it was a case of you buy a license to generate this many reports a year, and that's not something that I'm particularly interested in because it doesn't give you any idea - if we have future growth, or if we have a lean year - for budgeting reasons it's more difficult. With Windward it's a straight out license fee, whether we generate one page or we generate a million, it makes no difference.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
Intelledox, that's an Australian-based company and does similar things - probably more expansive than Windward, has a lot more features - but features that we wouldn't need anyway. We're only looking for a report-generator, and it was on a per-page basis, so that was one of the reasons why we didn't chose that.
What other advice do I have?
In our case, the ability for users to have design and layout control is not really important. The reports are pretty standard formats, these are agreed to well beforehand, so once they're designed we don't really go back and modify them that frequently.
We probably have half a dozen different templates and, as I mentioned before, they're very large, comprehensive documents. Most of it's textual, some embedded graphics and tables.
In terms of data sources, we just connect to our SQL server.
They were really helpful with the proof of concept. They offered free licenses. I think the initial license is a two-week one. They went out of their way to help us, and we requested two extensions, so we actually ran a bit of a longer evaluation, but in the end we certainly signed with them. They've been really helpful, from the account manager all the way through to the support people.
The word of advice is: Try before you buy, give it a good run, see if it actually does meet all your needs. If something is not right, let them know, see if it's something that they know about, or if it's something that's on their future roadmap to address.
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.
Feb 25 2018
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