MWD’s Vendor Comparison Report

Scott Francis
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Previously, we wrote about the individual vendor assessments that MWD put out.  Macehiter Ward-Dutton recently (Dec 18, 2008) updated their individual vendor reports with a comparison/summary report, which does a pretty good job of bringing it all together.

It weighs in at 13 pages, and in combination with the individual assessments makes for a nice resource.  For the categories and vendors that I’m familiar with, the comparison seems to hit the mark – rating products of similar capability in an area with the same rating (from Very Strong to Weak).

However, A quick glance at the chart would give you a few impressions that I’m not sure fully bear out my experience. For example, Appian and Lombardi look like the winners, with Appian having the most squares darkened as Very Strong, out of any of the vendors.  Lombardi is in second, as the only vendor with no Fair or Weak scores, as well as a lot of Very Strong rankings. However, I wouldn’t describe Lombardi as “Very Strong” in rules, nor Appian as “Very Strong” in optimization.

Second, IBM shows as very strong through the various capabilities in the “Scenarios” evaluation.  However, each of these “scenarios” requires one more different IBM products – it isn’t at all an integrated experience – so if you buy an IBM “BPM” product you won’t find yourself able to do all of these things.  It isn’t a criticism of any one product – its the total experience that customers find frustrating.  You’ll have to buy all the other software to be able to address these scenarios. And as anyone who has installed a suite of IBM software applications and their requisite fixpacks can tell you, it may be more of an adventure than you expect.

I haven’t seen Software AG’s latest offering, but it is described as a well-integrated BPM suite… and yet the definition of the “ownership” evaluation is something about the pedigree of the software suite and whether it was cobbled together or built-in-house for example.  Software AG’s offering, to my knowledge was very much a product of many acquisitions by WebMethods, which was, in turn, acquired by Software AG.  In the intervening years Software AG may have made the investments to turn this into a polished and unified experience.

Another general note-  I would say all of the rankings are a little high – I would bump most of the evaluations from Very Strong down to Strong, from Strong to Fair, etc.  But how to *characterize* the ranking is really a subjective exercise, and a relative one (Very Strong as compared to what? as compared to an objective standard or as compared to the other vendors?)- so this is a bit of a nitpick – but I think it would come closer to representing how customers would perceive the vendors’ performance in each area if the rankings were all lowered a notch with just a couple exceptions for the truly exceptional vendor-coverage areas (customers being generally less impressed than vendors by the software in question in all categories, I think). This is a great start to anyone’s software vendor analysis, and I imagine anyone who is serious would invest in getting access to the premium service that let’s you adjust the scoring to fit your scenarios. I want to thank MWD for putting this research out in the public domain – hopefully my comments will be taken as constructive rather than snarky!

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