My latest presentation is now available on BrightTalk. The talk is about how organisations can use SAP PowerDesigner to help them ensure that their Business Transformation is effective. I cover the following topics:
– 6 simple questions businesses need to provide the answers to form a framework for enterprise architecture – How PowerDesigner supports Enterprise Knowledge and Enterprise Governance – How SAP PowerDesigner provides the essential impact analysis – Real-world examples of PowerDesigner use
SAP PowerDesigner allows users to build a blueprint of their current enterprise architecture and visualise the impact of change before it happens.
Thank you to everybody who has watched the videos I published on YouTube last month, and for the ‘Likes’. I have had one detailed response to those videos, which appears to arise from a combination of misunderstanding the purpose of the videos, and a wish to promote another modelling process and the accompanying tool. I have no problem with the latter, of course, I welcome such discussions 😊.
The comments came from Charles Meyer Richter, and can be found here on Linked IN. Charles originally made his point in response to the video being shared on Linked In by Oliver Cramer (thanks, Oliver), and I replied to that with a brief comment:
Hello Charles Meyer Richter. Thanks for the comments – the purpose of the set of four videos is to demonstrate the features of a given tool, using the tool’s vocabulary, in which “Conceptual Data Model” is a type of model, very similar to the tool’s “Logical Data Model”, with a couple of notable differences. I certainly didn’t intend to state anything about my “preferred construct” at all, just to demonstrate a tool. I should have made that clear at the time.
The purpose of this blog post is to provide a longer answer to his longer comment, though I shan’t address every point Charles makes individually. He addresses several key areas in his comments:
The sequence of models that I created in the videos
Unfortunately, Charles viewed my chain of three models as a methodology statement which it is not.
What I said about “Conceptual Data Models”
I’ve just listened again to what I said in the first video – “in PowerDesigner a Conceptual Data Model is something that can look a lot like a Logical Data Model, with a couple of differences”. This is true, the key differences are that the PowerDesigner Conceptual Data Model doesn’t migrate attributes along relationships, and every attribute is supported by an underlying Data Item. Data Items can be used to provide a set of atomic data definitions, which are sometimes known as Data Elements. You don’t have to actually reference Data Items in Entities if you don’t want to – that’s the thing I like about PowerDesigner, the fact that, by varying model options, and by building simple customisations, you can tailor the tool to support your own Data Governance and Data Modelling approach.
How long every action takes in PowerDesigner
Charles uses the examples of drawing entities, laying out diagrams, linking attributes to business Rules, and linking Data Items to CDM Entities. He also asks if PowerDesigner can support 9 levels entities-within-entities. I remember a Logical Data Model with a lot of sub-type levels in the past, but I don’t think it went down 9 levels. Anyway, as a quick test, I created a CDM in Barker notation with 13 levels:
In “Entity-Relationship” notation, such a hierarchy is even bigger – see the diagram on the right.
If I wanted to build a taxonomy using PowerDesigner, I might use a combination of packages and entities to build it, possibly in a CDM, or perhaps as UML Classes in the Object-oriented Model.
Going back to how long things can take – I intended to show a variety of editing and object creation techniques in the tool, and I probably didn’t include all of them. Using object lists to create and edit objects can be a real time-saver, as can editing using Dependency Matrices, and importing from Excel.
Charles envisaged a real-world data model with 185 entities in it, using that to scope a ‘release’ that required 93 of them. In the video, I didn’t show how to filter a list of entities, drag them onto a diagram, and then use that diagram as the scope of a new model that I’m generating, again due to lack of time.
I could have demonstrated the diagram auto-layout capabilities, but there just wasn’t time to do that. The same is true for changing the details included on entity symbols – PowerDesigner gives me more control over symbol content than any other tool I’ve used.
The types of model he suggests using instead of the chain of CDM-LDM-PDM
Charles proposes something very similar to what I showed, which I’ve drawn up in a PowerDesigner Free Model.
I like what he suggests – I’ve certainly seen a double-layer of physical data models like that in PowerDesigner. The Knowledge Model includes Concepts, Goals, Benefits and Values, KPIs, Business Functions, and the ability to produce a first-cut cost-benefit report.
In my videos, I only mentioned three types of PowerDesigner model, out of a total of nine. The PowerDesigner “Enterprise Architecture” Model provides most of the capabilities that Charles mentions, though some customisation would be needed.
In his final point, Charles says (I agree with this) that you need a powerful set of tools to “store and manipulate the 16 goals, something like 19 performance indicators, the 185 knowledge classes, 30 attributes and 24 conceptual classes that will create the 24 logical and physical database tables”. He’s correct, and PowerDesigner is one of several tools to provide that capability; the difference is that it isn’t a “set of tools”, it’s a single tool.
Interesting news the other day. Following on from their acquisition of cloud-based Enterprise Architecture tool vendor Corso earlier in the year, ERwin have purchased Casewise, the vendor of a tool that ERwin already has an integration with. There’s an interesting point made in the announcement by Alexandre Wentzo, former CEO of Casewise –
“No one else in the industry is bringing together data and business process modeling and enterprise architecture in one powerful integrated solution”
I beg to differ – PowerDesigner, Mega, and System Architect have been doing this for years.
Corso’s focus was Enterprise Architecture; as ERwin say on their web site, Data Modelling and Enterprise Architecture are “better together” (earlier this year, ‘twas a slogan for those opposed to Brexit). Corso’s background is interesting; it was founded by people who were heavily involved in the old Popkin System Architect product, recently sold by IBM; System Architect has supported multiple modelling techniques, including Enterprise Architecture, Process Modelling and Data Modelling, for a very long time. So, Corso’s expertise should come in very handy for ERwin as they expand.
The purchase of Casewise brings three products to ERwin, for collaboration, workforce management, and modelling ‘the way organizations work‘, capturing ‘an accurate picture of the business’s assets and processes’.
The combination of the three organisations could result in a powerful, integrated set of modelling capabilities. When the news broke, I tweeted the following:
“I hope they really integrate the tools, not just paper over the cracks. Don’t want to see another CA running tools again”,
which elicited a quick response from Mariann McDonagh (according to her Twitter profile, she’s CMO at ERwin):
“Hi George. We are building a powerful platform with deep integrations btwn products. Stay tuned for more info.”
Hmm, the operative words in this reply are “between products”. That’s a little reminiscent of the approach taken by Embarcadero over the years – multiple linked (but different) tools. ERwin need to aim for a single modelling product or suite with one user experience, not cobbling together three disparate products with file conversions in lieu of proper model and object linkages and conversions; this needs to be underpinned by a single repository.
Mariann, I’ll give ERwin the benefit of the doubt, I know you employ some very capable people, and you have a big job ahead of you. The ‘new’ ERwin is definitely not CA, so you have my good wishes.