Sparx Systems: Mastering Enterprise Processes through Agile Modeling Tools

Geoffrey Sparks, Founder and CEO
Business Process Modeling captures the pulse of an enterprise: building maps of the thousands of activities that daily transform information and materials in ways that relentlessly drive a company forward. People, IT equipment, suppliers and communications channels are evaluated on how well they participate and facilitate the execution of a process. Imagine what the power of visualizing each of these interacting entities and their interdependencies in real time can do to process management. Bringing such an advantage to the fore for over two decades is Sparx Systems— delivering tool suites that not only capture dynamic process information, but also show it in visually enriching ways.

Sparx Systems grew out of my desire to build effective visual modeling and design tools whilst at university during the early 1990's,” says Geoffrey Sparks founder and CEO, Sparx Systems. He first started developing process mapping tools for gaming software development and became strongly aware of the need for tools that supported process development and architectural design.

Geoffrey, exploited the custom extension features of UML, the general-purpose modeling language, repurposing process design software to suit different aspects of product development. “I utilized it to add extensions to support the broader effort of defining business processes, requirements, project management, testing and other necessary facets of a fully integrated enterprise wide model that in turn gave birth to our flagship offering—Enterprise Architect,” remarks Geoffrey.

“As a tool vendor Sparx Systems is focused on providing high precision modeling and design tools that match the needs of consultants, trainers and industry in general”

Enterprise Architect helps flesh out the descriptive power of visual modeling through use case and requirements models, activity graphs, state machines and similar visual models. Also, by incorporating BPMN (Business Process Modeling Notation), a graphical representation for specifying business processes, Enterprise Architect provides both a rigorous visual language plus the capability to generate fully executable models. “With the emergence of BPMN as a high-fidelity BPM language, the ability to unambiguously define and support direct execution of process maps in the processing engine became a reality,” says Geoffrey. Along with UML and BPMN, Enterprise Architect also supports open standards such as SysML, and frameworks such as TOGAF, ArchiMate and UPDM. “I am strongly committed to the development and implementation of common, well understood modeling languages that enable disparate domains to communicate and integrate their specific processes and architectures into a single, well understood platform,” declares Geoffrey. Based on open standards and proven best-practice, Enterprise Architect can comfortably scale from small, single-user models to large team-based repositories and even to globally distributed Cloud based solutions.

Enterprise Architect—redefining business process modeling

Enterprise Architect, an integrated modeling, design and construction platform always sought to tightly couple the definition, construction, management, accountability and verification of modeling and design artifacts in an agile and transparent platform. It encourages and supports both the specification of business processes, and the software and architecture that implement these processes. “I believe the most important innovation we have implemented internally is the total commitment to use Enterprise Architect to the maximum extent possible to model, build, profile, test, manage and deliver our software product line,” states Geoffrey. “It also means continual refinement and evolution of the Enterprise Architect platform to better support the needs and requirements of the modern, agile company,” he adds.

Supporting the modeling of enterprise architectures, software and hardware systems, as well as many other aspects of the modern business environment, the Enterprise Architect platform allows business process diagrams and models to exist within the more global context of the architectural and systems environment. Agile development provides a shared and flexible team experience through complete transparency, iterative development and constant feedback, and “it has been the essential design goal of Enterprise Architect for over a decade and it will remain just as valid today,” says Geoffrey. Also, Enterprise Architect's shared storage capability helps to capture and review information in many different forms, ensuring there is no waste or confusion. Providing this level of traceability and context reveals the reach and effect of both individual and co-operative processes that touch the enterprise on many levels.

Architectural modelling imposes a structured methodology on the planning and development process. It constantly forces the team to align architectural design and resource allocation to the underlying business requirements. It keeps everyone on the path

“Business process models should not exist in isolation but contribute to and draw from the broader strategic, architectural, systems and software models that make up a functioning enterprise—Enterprise Architect is such a shared modeling and design platform,” remarks Geoffrey.

Delivering key competence to the clients

The Port of Melbourne which handles majority of exports for Victoria, a state in the south-east of Australia faced operational challenges in handling a large number of shipping vessels. The Victorian government wanted a seamless system for freight and logistics management to generate major efficiency gains and reduce freight congestion in and out of the Port of Melbourne. The State then engaged a Sparx Global Partner, an Australian professional services and software organization to build an Enterprise Architecture model of the Port of Melbourne Supply Chain. The model was to enable organizations operating within the Port of Melbourne network to provide a clear picture of how they could improve interactions with supply chain participants and reduce the number of assumptions about processes and information that flows throughout the supply chain.

“I believe the most important innovation we have implemented internally is the total commitment to use Enterprise Architect to the maximum extent possible to model, build, profile, test, manage and deliver our software product line”

Sparx System’s Enterprise Architect was selected as the UML Tool by the partner for the Port of Melbourne Supply Chain Model. Developing an Enterprise Architecture framework traditionally has been a time consuming and costly affair, by using Enterprise Architect, they were able to develop an Enterprise Architecture Framework within months, rather than years, and in doing so realized a significant cost reduction for the state of Victoria. Furthermore, it has allowed the Port of Melbourne to understand and analyze the business processes in its jurisdiction, and therefore identify and prioritize areas requiring process improvement. “The enterprise model developed in Enterprise Architect laid the foundation for improved understanding of the business landscape,” extols Geoffrey. “The Model is the first of its kind to be publicly available, and is currently being distributed to industry and education institutions across Australia, to identify opportunities for business process improvement,” he adds.

Similarly, Enterprise Architect is widely used across many sectors including finance, defense, government, automotive engineering, geospatial and others. “Many of the Fortune 100 companies use our product. The software has an installed base of 350,000, supported by 230 partners in 160 countries,” promotes Geoffrey. Also, Gartner has recognized Sparx Systems in its 2014 Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Architecture Tools report for the fifth successive year.

The ability to understand a problem, create and share solutions and proof it through simulation by transforming one logical representation into another, is fundamental to Enterprise Architect. “This provides the necessary flexibility and expressiveness needed to meet challenges that are yet to materialize,” says Geoffrey. In the coming years Sparx Systems imagines new tools and information processing capabilities that further support the transformation of models into executable form. “We are also developing new business processes and behaviors to address the increasingly 'data driven’ world,” he concludes.

Sparx Systems

Creswick, Victoria, Australia

Geoffrey Sparks, Founder and CEO

Sparx Systems specializes in high performance and scalable visual modeling tools for the planning, design and construction of software intensive systems.