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Visio Alternatives and Competitors

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David Jaques-Watson
Senior Consultant at a tech services company with 11-50 employees
Real User
Top 10Leaderboard
Improves accuracy for generating target databases, allows us to pull metadata from a database, and makes it easy to display information and models

Pros and Cons

  • "Being able to point it to a database and then pull the metadata is a valuable feature. Another valuable feature is being able to rearrange the model so that we can display it to users. We are able to divide the information into subject areas, and we can divide the data landscape into smaller chunks, which makes it easier to understand. If you had 14 subject areas, 1,000 entities, and 6,000 columns, you can't quite understand it all at once. So, being able to have the same underlying model but only display portions of it at a time is extremely useful."
  • "I still use Visio for conceptual modeling, and that's mainly because it is easier to change things, and you can relax some of the rules. DM's eventual target is a database, which means you actually have to dot all the Is and cross all the Ts, but in a conceptual model, you don't often know what you're working with. So, that's probably a constraint with erwin. They have made it a lot easier, and they've done a lot, but there is probably still room for improvement in terms of the ease of presentation back to the business. I'm comparing it with something like Visio where you can change colors on a box, change the text color and that sort of stuff, and change the lines. Such things are a whole lot easier in Visio, but once you get a theme organized in erwin, you can apply that theme to all of the objects. So, it becomes easier, but you do have to set up that theme."

What is our primary use case?

In one of the companies, we used it as an information tool. We created a logical model so that the business would know what was in the offices down to the warehouse. The current use case is also the same. We have some places for information, so we can do a logical data model for them, but, usually, it would go towards building an actual database, which also involves reverse engineering of an existing one because people don't know what's in there.

It is currently on-prem, but we still have a separate server.

How has it helped my organization?

We want to bring different erwin components together and tell a business user story. So, having all of it on one platform to be able to tell one story makes it not as fragmented as components have been in the past. 

In my previous company, when we had 1,000 tables, 6,000 columns, and 14 subject areas, trying to explain to people in the organization was difficult. Without the tool, it would have been impossible. With the tool, it was a lot easier because you could show a steward how this is his or her domain. For each steward, you could say, "Well, this is your domain over here." Once they had that, they could understand what you were talking about. So, it improved communication. We had a point where two stewards were looking at the models, and one of them said, "I think that one that you've got over there is actually mine." The other one said, "I think you're right." So, we actually moved an entity from one subject area to another because now they had the ability to see what was in their subject area. They could go and see what wasn't theirs and should be someone else's. If we didn't have the tool, we wouldn't have that visibility and wouldn't have been able to recognize that sort of situation. 

Its ability to generate database code from a model for a wide array of data sources cuts development time. You don't have to re-key things. You put in the information at one spot, and it flows out from there. There are so many parameters you can put on the physical side. You can put in your indexes, and you can put in expected size changes. You can store all sorts of information within the model itself. It is a really good repository of all that sort of information, and then you just push a button, and it generates the other end. It works really well. In terms of time-saving, if you had to write it all out by hand, it would take weeks. It would probably take three or four times longer without the tool.

It certainly improves accuracy for the generation of target databases because you're only putting information in one spot. You don't have to retype it. For example, I saw the word conceptual model misspelled today. So, if you have to re-key something, no matter how careful you are, you're going to misspell things, which would cause problems down the track, whereas if you make a mistake in DM, there is only one place you have to go and fix it, and then, you would regenerate the downstream stuff. This means that you don't have to touch anything physical. You generate it, and then you can use it.

What is most valuable?

Being able to point it to a database and then pull the metadata is a valuable feature. Another valuable feature is being able to rearrange the model so that we can display it to users. We are able to divide the information into subject areas, and we can divide the data landscape into smaller chunks, which makes it easier to understand. If you had 14 subject areas, 1,000 entities, and 6,000 columns, you can't quite understand it all at once. So, being able to have the same underlying model but only display portions of it at a time is extremely useful.

I am currently trying to compare and synchronize data sources with data models, and it is pretty good. It shows you all the differences between the two systems. After that, it is a matter of what you want to do with them. It is certainly helpful for bringing models in and being able to compare. At the moment, I'm comparing something that's in a database with something that was in the DDL statement. So, these are two different sets of sources, and I can bring different sources together and compare them in the one, which is really helpful.

What needs improvement?

I still use Visio for conceptual modeling, and that's mainly because it is easier to change things, and you can relax some of the rules. DM's eventual target is a database, which means you actually have to dot all the Is and cross all the Ts, but in a conceptual model, you don't often know what you're working with. So, that's probably a constraint with erwin.

They have made it a lot easier, and they've done a lot, but there is probably still room for improvement in terms of the ease of presentation back to the business. I'm comparing it with something like Visio where you can change colors on a box, change the text color and that sort of stuff, and change the lines. Such things are a whole lot easier in Visio, but once you get a theme organized in erwin, you can apply that theme to all of the objects. So, it becomes easier, but you do have to set up that theme. I think they've got three to four initial themes. There is a default theme, and then there are two or three others that you can pick from. So, having more color themes would help. In Visio, you have a series of themes where someone who knows about color has actually matched the colors to each other. So, if you use the colors in the theme, they will complement each other. So, erwin should provide a couple more themes.

They could perhaps think of having an entry-level product that is priced a bit lower. For extra features, the users can pay more.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using it at least since 2003. I have used it at multiple organizations.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It has always been really stable in the different organizations that I've used it in. It has always been a pretty good product.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It works fine with the number of people who have been using the product. We're talking about 10 to 12 people, not thousands of people. I haven't ever been in an organization where thousands of people even needed to get to the product. Probably the biggest drawback in scalability is the cost per seat rather than the actual product. The product works fine.

Our current organization has probably about 5 to 10 people using it. We're a consultancy, so we're using it in various roles. So, a lot of it is to do with understanding. As consultants, we try to understand what a client has in the organization and what sort of data they have to make sure there is actually data in the system that can answer their business questions. So, that's the sort of thing we use it for. We can turn around and give them designs. We can show what it is, and then we can turn around and make it what it would be. It is used by analysts and developers. They are not developing software. They are probably developing the database, but then, people would develop software.

I've used it on all the projects I've been on so far. I've been with this company for a short time, and it has come into play for pretty much all of the projects that I've been on. We want to use it more extensively. We want to use the erwin suite. We've got the modeler, but we also want to use their BI tool. We would like to evolve and come up with a story that links all of them together.

We have only just got the BI suite installed. We're starting to play around with it and see what we can do with it. We're doing some training on it at the moment. In a previous company also, somebody from erwin came to show it to us, and it was reasonably new at that point. That was last year. It is a reasonably new product. So, getting them to talk to each other has also been fairly new. erwin has only done it in the last couple of years. 

How are customer service and support?

I haven't had dealings with them, but the dealings I've had with erwin as a company have always been really good. So, I would rate them a nine or 10 out of 10.

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

I use Visio on the conceptual side. We've got Informatica, and I think it has got a modeling component in there. We try to get a range of products because we're doing consulting in various organizations, and they have got various tools. Usually, it depends on what a client has already installed. Sometimes, it also depends on their budget. Something like Informatica is usually at the top right end corner of the Gartner Quadrant, but it could also be overkill for smaller organizations because the benefit may not be there. So, a lot of time, it is horses for courses. You have to sort of tailor any solution to meet a client's needs.

How was the initial setup?

I haven't ever really installed erwin. One of the other guys has done that. Most of the places had it installed already. Usually, the complexity depends on how the organization does its software deployment. So, you have to go and request the software and then somebody has to give you the package. Once you get the package, it is pretty straightforward. It is usually less of a problem on erwin's side and more of an issue with how an organization deploys any erwin software, but once you deploy it, it works fine.

Some places that I've worked with were very strict about doing testing on COTS products to make sure that there are no viruses on it and also to make sure that it plays nicely with the rest of the system. So, those sorts of organizations may take longer in terms of testing. You put it on a test machine first and make sure it is not going to kill anything. They might have to repackage some stuff before they put it out to the network. To deploy a vanilla thing, I would think that it would only take a couple of hours.

In terms of maintenance, at the moment, I think we've got one person. The main thing is deploying new versions. You've got a server stood up, and you have to put the software out there. I don't know if there is anything else beyond that.

What was our ROI?

We haven't done an ROI for the current version. When you look at the total cost of creating or understanding what you've currently got through reverse engineering, and you look at the total cost of creating new products and new databases and maintaining them over time, and then you put that into the return on investment model, it is well worth it.

The accuracy and speed of the solution in transforming complex designs into well-aligned data sources make the cost of the tool worth it. If you didn't have the tool and a single developer or a single modeler was trying to do the same thing, the speed would be three or four times slower. If you multiply that by the cost of that person and then you also consider the cost of the other people who are waiting for that person to create a database design, it multiplies out. So, it is well worth it.

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

It has increased in price a fair amount over the years. It has always been expensive because it is a comprehensive product, and presumably, they have to do a tremendous amount of testing to make sure that everything works. It has always been dear because usually, a very specific target audience of data architects has the need for modelers, and not everyone in the organization would need to get a copy of it. Only people who are actually working in the database space need it. So, it has always been a very specialized piece of software, and it has been priced accordingly.

I don't specifically know what we're paying now. About three years ago, in another organization, I have this memory of 6,000 AUD a seat or something like that, but I am not sure. In the mid-2000s, it was something like 1,200 AUD a seat. I get the impression that there was a price jump when it was spun off from CA as a separate company, which is understandable, but it could sometimes be a barrier in some organizations picking it up.

I haven't talked to erwin people yet, but I'm going to suggest to them that they could perhaps think of having an entry-level product that is priced a bit lower, and then, you can buy the extra suite. That's what Microsoft does. They package a few things so that you have something, but if you want this extra stuff that has enterprise features, such as they talk to each other and have great bits and pieces, you have to pay more. I don't think there are any additional costs. It is per product, and there are different license levels. 

What other advice do I have?

Oracle Data Modeler, which is free, is one of the competitors that erwin has. You can't argue with the price point on that one, but erwin is much more comprehensive and easier to use. It is easier to display information and models to business people than something like Oracle Data Modeler, which does the job, but erwin does it a lot better. So, my advice would be that if you can afford it, get it.

Its visual data models have certainly improved over time in terms of overcoming data source complexity and enabling understanding and collaboration around maintenance and usage. It was originally designed as a tool to build databases with, and it retains a lot of that. It still looks like that in a lot of cases, but it has also been made more business-friendly with a sort of new front end. So, it used to be all or nothing where when you wanted to show somebody just the entity names or just the entity descriptions, you had to switch all of the entities on your diagram just to show names. Now, you can show some of them. You can shrink down some of them, and you can keep some of them expanded. So, it has become a more useful information-sharing tool over time. It is extremely helpful.

In my previous company, it was the enterprise data model, and you could paper a room with it if you printed the information out. To present that information to people, we had to chunk it down into subject areas. We had to present smaller amounts of information. Because it was linked to the underlying system, we could reuse the information that we had in a model in other models. The biggest lesson was to chunk the information down and present it in a digestible form rather than trying to show the entire thing because otherwise, people would run away screaming.

One of the places didn't have a modeling tool in it, and they were trying to do the documentation using Confluence. It was just a nightmare trying to keep it maintained with different developers using different tables and then needing to throw something into one and adding something into another one. It was just a nightmare. If they had one tool where they could put it all in one place, it would have been so much easier than the mess they had.

I would rate erwin Data Modeler a nine out of 10.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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SS
Marketing Director at a construction company with 11-50 employees
Real User
Top 20
Intuitive, designed in a way that it gives you what need, and saves time and money

Pros and Cons

  • "The ease of creating some of the maps and diagrams is most valuable. Lucidchart is just simpler and works more intuitively than other solutions that I have used in the past, such as Microsoft Visio. I am not in a creative role, but I know how to use Adobe Illustrator and other solutions like that. If I need to map out something that I've never mapped out before, and it is going to need a totally custom graphic, eight times out of 10, I'm going to go to Lucidchart rather than trying to build it in Illustrator. Its intuition and flexibility are really big features for me."
  • "I would really like to be able to set default appearance settings for new documents because I have a set of appearance settings that I always use. I end up setting that manually every time. There may be a way to do that, and maybe I am not able to find it. This is my only major point of feedback for improvement. There are other little nitpicky things, such as being able to lock layers without them looking like a big red line around them would be nice, but every graphic design software does that, so I understand why they have that. All my concerns are nitpicks. They're not big."

What is our primary use case?

There are a few different things. The main one, obviously, is creating business workflows. 

I've been using its web-based version.

How has it helped my organization?

It is excellent for documenting things such as processes, systems, etc. We have a guy who is a salaried commission salesperson who was doing very dry due diligence work on real estate deals. I took what he was doing and mapped it out so that a $12 an hour temp person can do it. It is very good for that. It is also good for mapping out things like marketing campaigns to explain to clients. I also run an agency on the side, so having here's what we're going to do and let me visualize it for you has been extremely useful as well.

It is important for us that Lucidchart accommodates both MAC and PC users. We have a mix at our current company, and I have guys who work from an iPad. We're currently in the process of transitioning everyone to MAC. It has been a headache because some of the software products that we can get on a Windows computer are not available for MAC. We're a construction company first and foremost, and a lot of construction software is designed around Windows. Lucid is a huge part of my day-to-day work. I use it almost every day. It is very helpful that it is web-based, and it accommodates both MAC and PC users. 

The ability for people to look at the diagram rather than reading through written documents has absolutely saved so much time, and as a result, money. For our due diligence process, I can't give a written manual to the kind of employee I have for this work and expect that employee to follow it. There's no way. Without Lucidchart, the whole project of having that employee do due diligence kind of dies because I don't have a way to show them that this is how to follow this workflow. If I'm paying somebody $12 an hour, I'm not going to expect them to be proficient at reading a technical manual. That would be a huge learning curve, but almost anyone can read a flow chart. I worked at fast food when I was 16, and I had flow charts on how to do stuff. You can give that to somebody who's very low-skilled and have them working above their skill level. It is a tool for employee growth in a way because you're able to give somebody a task that might be out of their pay grade and grow them into that role because you're able to explain it more simply.

It has definitely helped us in realizing efficiencies in our projects. Just yesterday, I was working on this due diligence project. We buy land, and when we get any land under contract, we have a period of time where we have to go and assess the land and decide if we want to buy it. It seems like you have to be an expert to do it, but it's really following a mental checklist. I got with my guy who does that, and I said, "I need you to tell me every question that you need to be answered in order to tell me if we can buy this land." He was like, "Well, this one, no." I was like, "No, you need to tell me every single question, and we'll get it on the chart." Doing that, I realized that sometimes, he's sending people out to look at stuff that he knows we can't build on. I was like, "They shouldn't be going out to look at that if you know that we can't build on it." That's an employee who is more highly paid than the person is who is going out to look at the land. That person is wasting two to three hours of their time to drive out and look at a lot that may not be buildable. That was just yesterday, and that's going to save us thousands of dollars. That's a huge time saving, which is time and money.

What is most valuable?

The ease of creating some of the maps and diagrams is most valuable. Lucidchart is just simpler and works more intuitively than other solutions that I have used in the past, such as Microsoft Visio. I am not in a creative role, but I know how to use Adobe Illustrator and other solutions like that. If I need to map out something that I've never mapped out before, and it is going to need a totally custom graphic, eight times out of 10, I'm going to go to Lucidchart rather than trying to build it in Illustrator. Its intuition and flexibility are really big features for me. 

It is very flexible. I use it for creating flow charts, processes, checklists, and if this/that or decision trees kind of things. I also use it for creating social media posts such as how to have a sales conversation with a prospective client. I like tools where you start from scratch. I know there are some great templates, but I don't really use those. I'm mostly using the start from the scratch feature, but I have used templates for things like customer journeys or to get inspiration for how complicated my campaigns should be. They have been useful situationally.

In terms of user-friendliness for someone who is more of a viewer, such as a client whom I just met or who isn't technical, I'm pretty confident about sending a Lucid link or even a PDF of the document to them. They're going to understand it. It is very well designed, which makes the UI elements of Lucidchart easy for people to understand.

What needs improvement?

I would really like to be able to set default appearance settings for new documents because I have a set of appearance settings that I always use. I end up setting that manually every time. There may be a way to do that, and maybe I am not able to find it. This is my only major point of feedback for improvement. There are other little nitpicky things, such as being able to lock layers without them looking like a big red line around them would be nice, but every graphic design software does that, so I understand why they have that. All my concerns are nitpicks. They're not big.

For how long have I used the solution?

Overall, I have been using this solution for two or three years. My user account is only three or four months old because I started with a new company.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I've never had an issue with it being down or unavailable. I've never had an issue where somebody was on a device and couldn't access it.

Performance-wise, I've never really had a problem. I can't even think of a time that it had slowed down, or I've had to refresh.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Extendability-wise, I don't know how many third-party plugins or additional integrations are there, so I can't speak about that too much. 

Scalability-wise, I could easily see a future where every one of our employees has a license and is using it. It would actually make our lives easier as opposed to more complicated. In that sense, I would say that it is super scalable.

Currently, I'm the only one using it as a creator or editor. Our land acquisition guy is also using it. He is just looking at it; he is not editing. Our two co-founders, our VP of operations, and our VP of construction are using it as viewers. All four people at the executive or VP level are using it. I'm a director, so I'm not quite at the VP level, and everyone else above me is using it, which is cool. We'll very soon be at a place where there are people under me who are using it. That's definitely going to happen soon, so I would say across all levels of our company, it will be used. We have maybe six people right now, but in the next couple of months, we'll be at a point where we have 10 to 15 more people using it. As we get up to that point, we would probably have more editors too.

How are customer service and technical support?

I don't think I've ever used their tech support. I haven't had a problem where I've needed it.

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

I have used Visio very recently. I basically told my boss, "We either have to buy a Visio subscription or a Lucid subscription. I'm buying a Lucid subscription because I don't want to work in Visio." We're on the 365 stack, and they like us to use as much of that as possible, but I was like, "No, I'm using Lucid." I didn't have to migrate anything over.

The ease of use is the main reason for using Lucidchart. I know that Visio and Lucidchart can do similar things. For my purposes, I wouldn't even touch some of the more advanced stuff that can be done in Visio, so it doesn't make sense to me to use something that's clunkier.

One of my complaints with Visio is that it gives you a thousand different tools, but most people need just five tools. Lucidchart is designed in a way that it gives you what need for a task, and if you need more, it tells you where to find it. It's very well organized and user-friendly, so that's great. With Visio, you have a box with no organizers, shelves, or anything in it, and everything is just thrown in there. You have to know where your stuff is to know how to use it. Lucidchart provides you a little shelf for workflows if you're doing a workflow. 

Another thing that I do for people is CRM object mapping, where I define the custom objects that we're going to have in a CRM and all the attributes of those objects, including other objects that an object can have in it. This would even be useful for object-oriented programmers, such as Java or C# programmers. They can also use it for such things. That's how flexible it is. I use the same tool that I use to do my workflows and process maps. It is intuitive to map out what an object has in it because it can have other objects. With Visio, I'd be spinning my wheels a lot more and looking for the right tools for that end product. Capability-wise, they are the same or very similar, but in terms of getting to that end product, it is going to be faster if I use Lucidchart.

How was the initial setup?

Its initial setup is very straightforward. It is just a matter of you basically going to the website, and it is right there. You don't even need to have used any graphic design software such as Visio. If you've used any document management tool, such as Microsoft Word, you can go into Lucid and set it up and use it very easily. It is so simple.

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

Pricing-wise, it is pretty fair. I don't really know what group pricing looks like, but right now, I pay $10 a month for my Lucid subscription. One thing I would say is that I do worry about my bosses being okay with paying $10 a month for every single employee because we would have around 20 people. It makes me a little nervous about whether they are going to pay $200 a month for people to be able to use this software. At the same time, from where I'm sitting, it's totally worth it. We save a thousand dollars from using this software. It's still a no-brainer.

What other advice do I have?

It is definitely for most businesses. I've worked in a couple of different industries in my professional career. I've been a teacher. I've been in construction. This is my second time in construction. I've also been in marketing for a marketing company. I've been a business owner, and it has always been useful, so I can't really think of an industry where you wouldn't benefit from using it.

I used to use it with Slack. We have Teams now, which I hate. I like Slack much better than Teams, and when I use Slack, I integrate it. I don't know if I ever used the direct integration, but we definitely used to bounce stuff back and forth in Lucid when we were using Slack as our communication platform. These two tools are pretty complementary. They're both SaaS products. I tend to prefer the SaaS experience to having to download something.

I am currently not using Lucidchart for real-time collaboration among users because generally, I'm the document owner. I have done that in the past with my business partner for agency work, but never with a team or with more than one other person. This is something that I would like to do in the future. I see that as a huge plus. I just haven't used it yet. When I used it with my business partner, the development process was much faster because he didn't have to tell me first what needs to be changed and then I would change. It was so much easier. That's what I'm dealing with now. I'm going to slowly roll it out and start giving some of my co-workers access to Lucidchart because if they have feedback on a document, they have to be over my shoulder telling me what to change, whereas I could be sending them the link, and they could be changing it themselves if they have the feedback. That's obviously more preferable to what we're doing now.

I have very briefly touched Lucidspark. I don't think I've created a complete document in Lucidspark. It's something that I would like to use more, especially as we get into using more of these tools for strategic planning as opposed to mapping existing processes or improving processes. Right now, Lucidchart does pretty much everything we need, and I'm even using Lucidchart for things where I might use Lucidspark. For example, for the object mapping solution, I should be using Lucidspark, but Lucidchart does what I need, and so I don't have to use Lucidspark. That's why I haven't felt the need to move over to Lucidspark.

I would rate Lucidchart a 10 out of 10.

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.
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SandraSheppard
Lead Business Analyst at a media company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Top 10
Enables us to identify business analysts that are working on two different things and link up efforts

Pros and Cons

  • "The features I find most valuable are ease of use and the Collaboration Hub."
  • "Customized reporting can be improved to make this a more versatile tool."

What is our primary use case?

We are using it in a mixture, actually. We have got our business-as-usual business analysis activities and we are getting our business analyst to model the processes that they would normally draw up in their day-to-day activity. Instead of doing it in Visio, we are asking them to do it in Signavio to get the depth of the information that we actually need for the process plans.

Things like attributes, the full details of the task descriptions, the full roles and all that is recorded and then filed centrally. What we are also doing is we are trying to expand our scope. This has been a project for us and what we are trying to do is develop it into a product so that we have got backing. We can then go out to different business areas and ask them about some of their processes. We will help them with the challenging parts of the processes. Like we will draw out the plans for them, show them what it looks like and what we can do for them. During that, we would identify pain points and again it is all kept centrally. Then we can feed that back to them. So those are our two main use cases.

How has it helped my organization?

For me, one of the main improvements in our organization has been the removal of duplication. We have business analysts across the organization and the business areas that are the ones that are generating the activity. So it is either in a product environment or it is an enterprise technology environment. What we have been able to do through the tool is to identify where business analysts are working on two different things and potentially they can link up efforts. So deduplication for us is one of the main areas things have improved.

What is most valuable?

For me, the features I find most valuable are definitely in the Collaboration Hub. That is something that we are developing. We are getting more users on there and becoming more familiar with it. The new version is definitely much better that way. The modeling is obviously very important. As a business analyst, when you go from muddling about just using Vizio without using a particular standard and then you go to Signavio you end up modeling to a standard. In a way that can sometimes feel a little bit restrictive. But once you get to understand what the tool is doing for you in terms of giving you the hints and tips and helping you draw plans effectively, it makes a better model in the end.

I see that as a benefit. If you need to do process modeling, I think the tool itself is really good because you can just type in what you want in Quick Model and then that can draw a simple process for you. If you are going from being a business analyst with lots of modeling experience but you had never modeled to a standard and then go to the tool that can be a little bit restrictive initially. Well, then it turns into a benefit because you start using the tool that you are supposed to in the way you are supposed to use it.

What needs improvement?

One thing I'd like to see changed and improved — bearing in mind we do not use the full functionality — is custom reporting. One thing that I found is in order to get us mobilized, get the processes modeled and get the right information out, we have had to use the API to create some custom reports. I would say making the creation of custom reports easier for the end-user could make it a more versatile solution.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We have not had any stability issues other than recently when they updated to Velocity. You could expect things like that to happen when a new product comes out. Apart from that, it has been 99% stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I think the usage can be scaled quite easily. It is very easy to onboard someone. It is also very easy to show them, and there doesn't seem to be any restrictions in terms of the number of users. Right now we are quite small in terms of numbers compared to some organizations. When we need to scale I'm sure we can.

How are customer service and technical support?

Dealing with tech support has been pretty simple. You raise an issue online, then usually get an automated response back. Anything that is a major issue has been dealt with and gets a higher priority. Anything that is more of a request for something that would be nice if we could do takes a lower priority. We've raised some of those issues as well.

In terms of the relationship with the company, we've got a number of key people that we do speak to. It is a mix of the sales side to the financial side to the technology side. It is nice, but you've got to accept that in a bigger organization and to improve the processes or to give better customer service that you are not always going to be able to speak to one particular person. 

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

Personally, I've spent a lot of time working in Visio. I've only been at the BBC for five years and then my previous employer worked in Visio. Going back a bit further, I did a piece of work with an SAP installation quite a while back, so I understood the importance of process. Lots of people don't. Over the years, besides working at the BBC, I always found processes for what I do. That is just my approach to things.

When we started going to conferences and were listening to certain people talking about their process, the central repository and such, we tried to understand how that would work in practice. We were using Visio at the time while other people were using things like Lucidchart — you know, free versions, or open-source Business Process Management.

Our priority became to get a central repository. So even without understanding what the tool could do in terms of the modeling, it gave us the central repository and I think the rest of the experience with the tool has been a bonus. It was through going to conferences and having a desire already to use processes more effectively that we made progress. We wanted to translate that to something the end-users and the senior managers would like.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was pretty straightforward.

What about the implementation team?

When we went to deploy we went with a consultant BPM-D (Business Process Management -Discipline). We wanted them to help us with our selection because we are a public service organization. We have to go through a particular process to procure anything to make sure that we are following and conforming to standards. So we went through a procurement process, scoped the products accordingly and awarded the contract to Signavio.

What was our ROI?

Our return on investment is intangible at the moment. Again, it's because of our operating model. We have been trying to find savings, but again, it's difficult to achieve unless you are actually looking to relate it to headcount. It's a challenge and we are not really set up like that in our organization. More recently, we started looking at cost avoidance and so we're looking at that as an angle in terms of return on investment. We are looking at how long it would take us to do it the traditional way.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I can't remember exactly which solutions we were evaluating before we chose Signavio. There were five on the shortlist. We purposely went with a consultant to use their consultancy experience to help us select the right tool because we didn't have that kind of experience. So we used their experience and their guidance to tell us what the top BPM solutions were on the market. Then we pulled together the requirements of what we actually wanted to get out of the tool we selected and got the consultants to do demonstrations to compare and contrast. 

They all had the same criteria to follow and they demonstrated the options to a group of people. It wasn't just myself and my manager, it was a group of people who would be using the tool.  We scored the options based on the criteria and basically Signovio came out top in terms of about five or six different areas that we were evaluating like costs, ease of use, performance — all those sorts of things were taken into account. We just crossed products off the list initially. One was ARIS and another was Bizagi. 

What other advice do I have?

One of the important things for us when we were looking at solutions, was the ease of use. A lot of other solutions out there were just like Visio. The interface for Signavio is good. It is easy to use. It is self-explanatory. I can't really say much more about it in that way. The ease of use affected the adoption in our organization massively. If it had not been easy to use and people were struggling with it, then they just would not have used it. So I'd say it's quite a high factor in making a choice.

Because we are still not using it to its full capacity, it is difficult to really assess the solution's integration, process modeling, mining, and automation thoroughly. A lot of that is because of our own business decisions and being able to get the data that we need to do these simulations in mining. But we can see that people who work with it benefit from these things and we know there is more potential. It is just that we have got to sell that idea on to the rest of our management.

The solution does enable us to carry out the process improvement life cycle. We do not have a completed example yet. We've been working on an HR onboarding process where we've been able to put that into the hub. But again, because of our business model and the way we set up, we have had to hand that project over in terms of work packages for delivery to the business department and we've not got sight of that since it has been handed over. 

The solution's functionality doesn't quite give everyone in the organization what they need. But again, that is only because we are still in the early days of working with people to get them up to speed. The majority of people are used to process and understand process planning. So we are trying to get more of the end-user community involved in using the collaboration hub. So I'd say we're still on that journey.

I would say for business analysts the solution has actually improved that group's workday by reducing the time it takes for them to model a process. We have not been able to do that yet on the same terms with our senior management team. We are still building the process-centric mindset in the organization.

The advice I would give to people looking for a BPM solution would be to look closely at your requirements. Don't be pushed into anything by consultants. Listen to what they've got to say. You will have a gut feel of what you want to do and when you actually look at the tools that are out there it is easier to make your decision.

On a scale of one to ten where one is terrible and ten is great, I would rate the product as an eight only because I think there's always some room for improvement.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Private Cloud

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

Other
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Terry Watts
Software Developer at RowdenSoftwareSolutions Ltd.
Real User
Top 10
Has made the EA object model available so you can add your own popup menu items

Pros and Cons

  • "It has led some teams to do better code reviews - to be less focussed on coding conventions (syntax) and more focussed on the semantics because of the abstraction level clear design affords."
  • "Because its easy to create diagrams one needs to be vigilant on the housekeeping of orphaned fragments - I have written my own scripts to do this, maybe they are available now."

What is our primary use case?

There are several ‘primary’ use case:

1: Designing a solution

2: Reverse-engineering the solution from a poorly documented code base - all too common in my 25 years of coding.

3: Communication of concepts, rules, ideas to devs, testers, dev team management

4: Importantly keeping the evolving codebase and the design ‘close-coupled’, with EA that is easy. Code evolves and sometimes the design often changes a lot - how often do devs avoid the design because it’s just way outdated?? It should be the first port of call in a bug fix - not the last.

High/Low-level Design, Test case identification. Mindmapping, functional requirements elicitation, use case elicitation, test cases, activity diagrams. I am a contract developer/designer, for me, it’s vital to get up to speed quickly with new and complex systems. I have often used my own EA license to get a handle on the real model - for me, that's been vital.

How has it helped my organization?

Sparx has mainly improved my organization through the communication of ideas through the sharing of models and a variety of diagramming techniques. Consistency is a key attribute of a good codebase. This tool helps a lot in the maintenance and organization of a lot of complexity.

It has led some teams to do better code reviews - to be less focussed on coding conventions (syntax) and more focussed on the semantics because of the abstraction level clear design affords.

We all know understanding is ALL - so Communication is vital, this tool makes it easy.

What is most valuable?

  • Mind mapping as a top-level tool for conceptual brainstorming and identification of key concepts in the conceptual model.
  • Use cases / scenarios / activity diagram generation
  • The fact that it’s very easy to create child diagrams in diagrams and so keep each diagram clear, focussed, and not bloated. This is very important and a powerful aid in clarifying the model
  • Easy forward and reverse engineering - to code and DB design/implementation is an iterative process so there is a real use case for a tool like EA to make the update process very easy
  • It's possible to write stored procedures in the EA SQL database to extract steps that can be used as code comments to structure the code directly from activity diagrams. This is something I find really useful to speed up the coding and keep it aligned with the low-level design.
  • There are some powerful ideas code generation templates and transforms. Sparx has made the EA object model available so you can add your own popup menu items etc. It is very customizable for the power user.

What needs improvement?

It is a good affordable that is actively evolving, I think the modeling of activity diagrams could be optimized - currently, they insist on you specifying whether a connector is a control flow or an object flow for instance. It is a minor point, but since this sort of diagram is popular in that it affords both the chance to effectively constrain the model whilst leaving freedom for the next stage in the dev process - which key in good design then it should a high priority to optimize this rather than waste resources unnecessary 'bells and whistles'?

There are several little things they could and should optimize. But the platform is good and could be the base a whole tranch or really useful features. for example: to be able to easily run code set up in unit tests to reverse engineer specific code blocks to yield sequence/activity diagrams, would be really useful when as a contractor you have to 'firefight' the design from the code. 

Personally I would like to see the database normalized better. It's really just a data dump whose business rules are contained in the front end client code - it is way way way off 3nf.

Because its easy to create diagrams one needs to be vigilant on the housekeeping of orphaned fragments - I have written my own scripts to do this, may they are available now.

I don't make much use of the traceability Matrix, yet that should be a feature that I should use if I could see it made it easy to ensure the traceability of ALL the design to the code (completeness)

However, it works. It’s good to use and it’s affordable for a single contractor. It has REALLY helped me. It is a good product and I am sure it will only continue to improve.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Sparx for ten years. 

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

IBM Rational, but not many companies could afford it.

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

Pricing is an obvious selling point and so are the flexibility and feature set.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

At the time I first used it it was a no brainer, there was only Sparx out there as affordable and serious software - there was Visio. Now there are real alternatives.

What other advice do I have?

It supports a variety of databases - if you have more than say 5 do not use access. Maybe it is better now but it did cause us problems when 30 devs were using it.

Access DB is ideal for the single user or very small team because its a file-based repo which is easy to back up as part of the project back up at my home-based office I use both Access and MSSQL repos - you can migrate - but its not a simple exercise. I guess if you did it a lot you would have a well-documeted process - i.e picking the wrong driver is/was possible and it will give you an incomplete/corrupt migration. That being said I do do it because I like to get at the SQL repo directly. 

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
DJ
Process Architect at a energy/utilities company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Top 5
Highly integrated, user-friendly, and supports mobile devices

Pros and Cons

  • "The most valuable feature is the integrated manner in which all the capabilities of the Enterprise Process Center platform work together and make it easier to complete the documentation of processes."
  • "As with all such platforms, Enterprise Process Center is a complex tool and there are many capabilities and features that take time to learn."

What is our primary use case?

We were looking for a BPM tool that enabled us to manage our:

  • Process portal available to all employees and contractors, together with access for our external partners
  • Process Architecture including linking to the process maps in BPMN 2.0 with validation of our limited user-friendly version of BPMN, linked to the Process Architecture
  • Process documentation, including work instructions and procedures
  • Process Controls embedded in processes and linked to the risks and regulative compliance items
  • Process performance measures, including collecting any raw data from source systems, calculating measures, and then providing dashboards and reports for review
  • Process improvement initiatives with tools to support analysis and identification of processes requiring improvement

We needed the entire platform to provide a browser-based, user-friendly and available on mobile devices (for our field staff and external partners) as well as desktop.

Lastly, we also wanted the capability to move towards process execution of human-centric workflow and integrate with our RPA platform.

How has it helped my organization?

While it was still early days, the Enterprise Process Center platform provided us with the flexibility to allow us to implement BPMN 2.0 without being too rigid. We also found that we had available additional capabilities, such as master data management and document management. These were going to be extremely useful in bringing new capabilities to the organization to replace legacy capabilities (already flagged for replacement) as our implementation program and rollout proceeded.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the integrated manner in which all the capabilities of the Enterprise Process Center platform work together and make it easier to complete the documentation of processes.

The platform is also highly configurable and customizable, although it is clear that you should learn to "walk before you try to run". In other words, starting with the out-of-the-box implementation still provides a very feature-rich environment that can be improved even further as your usage matures.

What needs improvement?

At this stage, we have don't really have any issues that have caused us any significant problems.

As with all such platforms, Enterprise Process Center is a complex tool and there are many capabilities and features that take time to learn. We have only begun to scratch the surface of the EPC, so we are still early in our learning cycle. While the available help and user documentation are highly informative, adding links to short how-to videos would be extremely useful. We can see that Interfacing has already been working on this over the first half of this year.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been working with Interfacing and Enterprise Process Centre on a proof of concept project over a six month period.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We have had no stability issues

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We can see this is a highly scalable solution

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

Prior to conducting a search and selection process, we relied upon Microsoft SharePoint, Word, and Visio for all of our process documentation.

How was the initial setup?

As we have had EPC delivered as a SaaS solution, setup was straightforward

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

My advice for anybody who is implementing this product is to understand what options you believe you are going to want to implement and rollout in the first three to five years, but spend the most time understanding what the set-up costs and pricing will be in the first two or maybe three.

It is highly likely that your expectations and plans will change during this initial period. So it is important to understand what flexibility is available to you on the pricing options available.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Our BPM Tool search was conducted over a three to six-month period. During this time, we also looked at Signavio, BOC ADONIS, Prime BPM, and BIC Cloud

What other advice do I have?

Interfacing is a very engaging and accommodating company to work with. They have been involved with BPM for longer than most of their competitors and have people with a diverse range of experience.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public Cloud

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

Amazon Web Services (AWS)
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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