If you were talking to someone whose organization is considering SAP PowerDesigner, what would you say?
How would you rate it and why? Any other tips or advice?
Lots of organisations around the world are frantically trying to transform into digital driven entities, overnight, especially after the breakout of Covid-19. Yet, most of them are led by people who do not seem to know how to do it with minimum total cost, time and effort.
Most of the management teams think that by having or adding lots of developers in a project, they will be able to achieve that. They don't realise that they are just building Chaos and not System.
Chaos proliferate like in the case of proverbial Tower of Babel! Every sub-development group within the project though pretending to be co-operative will build their own version of understanding with own definition & implementation of artefacts, such as data-items. For example, each team will define 'Customer ID' the way they want, based on their past experience and understanding of the user requirements, especially nowadays when those requirements are not vetted and approved by the end-user community prior to passing on to developers. Later when all the sub-systems developed by individual sub-team are brought together with the high expectations to work together, management gets the shock of their life when they hear that the systems don't talk to each other seamlessly as expected. This should be called 'Chaos Building' and not software building.
The current trend to build web-applications using Micro Services and Micro Frontends and apt type of data-stores is taking this chaos to another level because of one problem.
Teams, especially led by developers, don't recognise, understand and/or accept the fact that, the more the complexity, more the need for upfront architecture and designs. Especially lots of these developer led projects forget that Designs must be pre-agreed and approved by all relevant parties, such as end-users on one hand and architectural community on the other hand. Developers just jump and make the pond a mud pit!
In fact people who get into development for just earning purpose and lack 'passion' like lots of pioneers of this field did, don't want to or can't learn from other fields that have overcome these types of 'complexity management' problems. They simply have to just raise their heads and look around and will see the guiding lights in all the high-rise buildings in the concrete jungle where they work and at times live. Did all those buildings got built overnight by brick layers, masons and so on or were first designed and got approvals from various parties?
This simple comparison will show the need of approved Architectures and Designs in Software/Systems development too. So, the only solution to this chaos-avoidance is, create Architectures and Designs upfront get approval from all relevant parties and then start the development.
To create Architectures and Designs using repetitively re-usable artefacts like data-items that can be created in one model by one team member and used by all other teams and their members we must use fully integrated CASE Tools, like PowerDesigner.
That integrations of data modelling, process modelling, requirements storing and referencing to those requirements from solutions designed, etc. in single tool gives CONSISTENCY of all the software building artefacts, which will remove the 'Chaos' situation I mentioned above.
With that main headache gone, the next important point to have is the facility of multi-user capability.
Reason for this capability is to enable a team of Business Analysts, Architects (of software, data, integration, etc.) and Designers to access the data (i.e. software artefacts) that have already been stored in the CASE Tool. This is achieved by storing all the artefacts in a RDBMS. PowerDesigner (PD) provides this multi-user capability too!
With both these superior strengths PowerDesigner gives one more important capability to modernise existing applications/systems, which is, Reverse-Engineering and Forward-Engineering.
The ability to reverse-engineer existing Database schemas (and others) in minutes with data dictionaries will save a project days and months, which alone will recover the cost of the software. That reverse-engineered model can then be used for creating same or enhanced schema to create a new database in completely a different RDBMS Engine. Say, from Oracle to SAP's Adaptive Serve Enterprise or MS SQL Server. All the balance functionalities of PD then becomes, Free!
However, I do see few important problems that slows down the use of PD, which are:
1. Their Prices. See point 5 below also.
2. Their product development strategy where instead of building new capabilities/functionalities on top of what is there already, they just drop superb modelling capabilities and leave the users in lurch. Process Analysis Model (PAM), which was such a beautiful simple model with which we can start the modelling to win over the users fast, was just dropped! They might say, Business-process Modelling capability was introduced which 'Converts' those PAMs automatically. They should have seen what a mess that conversion produced. This type of lack of product continuity moved some users to competitors.3. Their marketing strategy of this important tool for complex systems/software building is very poor, like the initial owner of this tool, Sybase. Sybase had a superior set of software tools, designing tools, development tool (PowerBuilder) and Sybase Databases, among several others and mucked up big-time because of their extremely bad marketing cum pricing strategies and efforts.
4. Lack of awareness of the need of CASE Tools, especially among University educated people. If free Student versions of PD with all the capabilities of the main product but with limited amount of data storage capability can be introduced in the universities, PD will again become a main stream product.
5. SAP/PowerDesigner sales and development teams' ignorance of the other 3 main competing products with almost similar or superior capabilities, at lower prices and vigorous marketing efforts.
If the above issues can be sorted out with more market awareness of this superior tool, I am sure PD will help lots of current projects that are struggling to overcome their obstacles faster and deliver their projects successfully AS WELL AS PROVIDE THE DESIGNS FOR FUTURE MAINTENANCE AND ENHANCEMENTS!
I would not recommend this solution to others. I rate SAP PowerDesigner a six out of ten.
On a scale from one to ten, I would give PowerDesigner a nine.
I would highly recommend this product to be used in each and every application system where you have to design a relational database. It doesn't matter which relational database as you can use it for MSSQL, Oracle, Postgres. There are over 50 or 60 different tools like SAP PowerDesigner, but most of them are limited to maintaining a few relational databases like Oracle or MSSQL. But PowerDesigner, as well as erwin can be sued with many different relational databases. This makes it easy to switch and maintain the logical level and then create the DDL for Oracle, MSSQL, MySQL, for DB2, or DB2W. I am using just part of SAP PowerDesigner as a tool. This is because it offers some additional capabilities, like business engineering. Other additional capabilities that I never used because there were additional tools for that. Whether we use Powerdesigner or some other different tool, it's impossible to build an enterprise data model for big application systems. For example, a CIF covering the count and the post. If it's loans, once we have a database with over ten entities, it's very hard to do it manually. You have to work with a tool to create a proper data model, and then a proper database with properly defined entities, primary keys, relationships, and foreign keys. You must have a tool. It's impossible to do it manually. Once such a data model is created, it becomes the source. When trying to understand the beats revolving around magnetic media, you don't have to use the relational data model and the logical data model to understand the data. Once you understand the data, you know the application system. The data is basically a PowerDesigner. The main usage is to design and maintain the data model, the logical data model, and the physical data model. The physical data model is achieved by pushing a button, and the tools will automatically create the DDL. You would just have to implement it as it is. You don't have to write the DDL manually. The business understanding and the business requirements are translated into the physical design one by one. The implementation is according to the business requirement, as a business understanding of the system. On a scale from one to ten, I would give SAP PowerDesigner a nine.
I'm not using the latest version of the solution, I'm using the one that came out before version 16. When we go to specific clients if they would like us to define it or some other product, what we do is we model whatever things that they want, inside those particular tools. Some of the tools don't have the entire modeling capability that PowerDesigner offers. If a company has a team of people or even one single consultant who has the capability to design business architecture, software architecture, database architecture, or infrastructure architecture, they should go for this particular product. None of the other products offer all of these capabilities in one tool. This is especially true when you design on one model. The architects creating them can pull into the next model - whatever they want to create. For example, if I'm designing a business process diagram, we will be able to capture some data architecture. When we reach the data architecture part of it, all the data items, whatever they already created in the business architecture, can be pulled. It automatically creates the database from the ER diagram. I'd rate the solution nine out of ten overall.
The key thing is really about the use case or the requirements. We are into enterprise modeling and we are looking at sharing the models and those are the requirements that shift the evaluation criteria. For those looking at stand-alone models, they may not be looking at sharing these, mainly they just want to produce their models and things, so those criteria will differentiate selecting the different products. And whether you have a large team of people or you are focusing on only a few players in a small team, that will also determine your criteria for selecting the product. I would rate this solution an eight out of 10.
If you have the money for it, buy it. If you were budgeted, it would be a worthwhile investment. I would rate PowerDesigner an eight out of ten. It is very complete and robust. If you're an SAP shop, without question you'd want to use it because you can generate your ETL code as well. That also separates conceptual, logical, and physical modeling really well. I don't know if it's as complete though as erwin's solution. But erwin's solution is evolving and getting better. PowerDesigner has some room to improve, but it's still pretty solid.
When I began using PowerDesigner, it was an independent product. Since that time, SAP acquired it. It is a very solid product that does both data modeling and business process modeling. My advice for anybody who is implementing PowerDesigner is to make sure that the central repository for versioning models is on a high-bandwidth network with a solid database backing it up. In summary, this product gives you all of the features that a modeler would require to produce both logical and physical data models. There really is not a lot that is lacking and my only complaint is about the versioning repository. Of course, this is only a problem when we are working remotely. If there is a large model with perhaps 600 tables and 2,500 attributes, then it is going to be very demanding on bandwidth. I would rate this solution an eight out of ten.
I certainly recommend using this product, although it wasn't cheap so cost is a consideration. Price is a complaint that I have for most design tools in the IT world, as most of them are extremely expensive. Corporations and large companies can use them effectively. For me, the GUI is definitely a pleasure. At the same time, there is a steep learning curve when dealing with bigger and bigger systems. Fortunately, the tool helps with that. I would rate this solution a seven out of ten.
A powerful modelling solution has to be selected, implemented and managed in the same way as any other enterprise software - before you evaluate tools make sure you've documented your modelling process and the metadata you need to manage. Run a 'Proof of Concept' first - so you actually know what you're letting yourself in for and how much work you may or may not have to do to get it to work the way you want.
We don't have a business relationship with SAP. We prefer to keep our relationship independent and have no direct relationships with them at the moment. It's certainly a good strategy to migrate to this solution from another tool, but I wouldn't recommend anyone start using it by trying out a trial-and-error strategy. An organization must think first about the migration strategy if they already have a tool and want to migrate before they start. A trial and error approach will waste a lot of time. I'd rate the solution eight out of ten. It's easy to use and you can get good pictures out of it.
Before deploying PowerDesigner, do not underestimate the initial analysis of WHAT will be modeled, as well as HOW and BY WHOM. Are your users prepared well enough for the transition to PD (training, potential changes in the modeling process, ...)? My advice for anybody implementing this solution is not to deploy PowerDesigner fully by yourself. Allow an experienced vendor consultant to explain all of the features and possibilities of the tool to you, and then just decide what and how you want or need to use.
We all know it's really hard to get good pricing and cost information.
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