I am an Enterprise Architect and Change Manager

Through my consultancy company, Han van Roosmalen Softwarediensten, The Netherlands, I help information managers, enterprise and software architects and IT staff to gain better insight in the problems they have to tackle during their day-to-day jobs. In many cases I introduce them to or improve the way they work with Sparx Enterprise Architect. 

 

In many situations the sum of the problems my customer faces is too large to understand as a whole. By breaking down the problem in tangible parts the insight gained helps to find more long term decisions. By helping my customer with defining the overall (business) architecture he will see the potential of using design models. To help non-IT managers understand I use Sparx Enterprise Architect for creating wall sized visuals. Generating a document that contains the up-to-date description is a bonus. 

 

I bought eaDocX because I found the document generation capabilities of Enterprise Architect much too cumbersome. The build-in tool is a real document generator that needs a lot of upfront learning and never actually generates a document I would hand over to my customer with a smile. After a couple of hours after using eaDocX I was able to compose (not generate) more stylish documents.

I don’t like to see eaDocX as a generator but more as a composer.

I start with a Word document and add those parts of my EA model that I need into it. This approach is more appealing to the architects and developers at my customer. Following this path my customer will always invest in both tools.

Though creating poster sized visuals is my main startingpoint the fact that I can easily create stylish documents in the layout that my customer wants proves very desirable. I see the composed/generated documents as a way to verify the correctness of the models I (or we) make.

Although eaDocx comes with an almost flat learning curve, it has still (hidden) features that after a couple of years using it come to the service and are helpful. I practically like the way it formats relationship matrices into Word documents.

 

eaDocX changed what I model and the type of documents I produce. Now:

  • Document contents can be far more complex
  • The number of documents increased dramatically since more kinds of modelling elements were kept in the model.
  • Not only IT related elements became part of the EA repository but also organisational and requirement elements were introduced, modelled and composed into documents.
  • The quality of the information per element, diagram and package has improved. But because everything is linked together more other types of elements are stored into the repository as well. The models became much richer.
  • Besides me the architects, product owners and information managers all use EA to collaborate together. They all use eaDocX to prove that they modelled correctly.
  • Since more people work on EA more documents are generated and more frequently
  • They spend more time perfecting the repository contents instead of adapting all kinds of Word documents.

The overall quality of the repository has improved significantly, which of course leads to better problem and solution understanding.

And because the quality and consistency of the documents has improved even non-IT staff is willing to read and improve the professional documents. Which results in a smaller gap between the teams and upper management.

Now, model information is stored in a single database in which the teams are allowed to enter new elements or change existing ones. Documents and visuals are shared throughout the company.

 

With eaDocX I can have other people working in a better way with Enterprise Architect because they can create documents so easily. Actually I don’t believe in documents, but I do believe in consistent and up-to-date architecture repositories, accessible to more people, that serve as a basis for documents if needed.

By using eaDocX my customer teams became more productive because there was a greater benefit to be gained with Enterprise Architect since the document creation was less cumbersome and even more fun.

 

The document that impressed my manager most was the organisational document and related specific documents describing his new organisation, the specific documents are generated in one go and partly contain the same text including plain text, tables and colourful relationship matrices holding RACI cells.

It took some time to find a necessity to use relationship matrices, but in my latest documents I used those to the max, I especially like the fact that you can colour individual cells and add hyperlinks to the rows and columns headers, which make documents super dynamic.

 

Since I am a freelancer I have a different hourly rate, which I have to prove. When I used the RTF generator I spend much time figuring out how to get some documents that looked nice. Today I only ask for a company template and generate documents within an hour or less. It save my customer some money but it makes me more productive and the possibility to spend more time with the content instead of the layout.

Using eaDocX there is a need to create an as best as possible repository. This automatically leads to better contents and better and more complete and consitent models, which in the end leads to less mistakes and misunderstanding

Though working with a repository might seem to take more time to realise a deliverable the pay back is when changes and improvements have to be made. Just by generating a new set of documents (or HTML pages) all stakeholders are up to par.

I think in the future architects will collaborate more and more through a repository and only need to generate documentation because some stakeholder will never learn how to interpret data in that repository. 

 

I hardly encountered problems. Funding is easy because the initial investment is not that high and company-styled documents are produced within hours after installation. Normally I provide my customer with the profiles he needs and instructions to make him create the documents. Training takes around half an hour.

I needed some support from eaDocX; some of them where because of misunderstanding the manual, some because of bugs and some of which I don’t know anymore. In most situations I got helpful replies the same day, or the day after. In a number of cases I have send the repository and the document to support to obtain the right answers.

 

  • I currently use the latest version of both SEA (corporate edition) and eaDocx (professional edition)
  • I personally use fixed licenses but when my customer is installing the software it depends on the situation and adoption rate. It is nice to have this flexibility (fixed/floating).
  • Both tools are used by functional designers, software and enterprise architects and in some situations testers.
  • During the time I used EAs’ RTF generator I only used a fraction of the tools available in EA. Since making nice output required a lot of experimentation. Now I decide depending on the knowledge level of my customer which of the tools are most appropriate and for those I create a profile. This means that I have a whole nest of profiles.

 

I use EA and eaDocX for all kinds of documents, like audit reports, requirement documents, software architecture documents, business process documents and organisational documents (describing roles and functions). I even use EA to keep notes that I might want to reuse in documents.

I now use eaDocX for almost everything I create with Word.