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Have you used an EA tool? What was your experience of it?

I've used a couple of tools in my career but have found Troux's Enterprise Portfolio Management suite to be the best to date. As per many similar solutions it has a central repository to hold artefacts and a very good meta model that establishes and records the relationships between them. It covers all aspects from strategies and objectives down through business, application, technology and data domains and handles projects and programmes that affect them all although it is not a project management tool replacement. Troux also provided a modelling client package that used the repository to create either standard models or TOGAF outputs. NOT the best client I have seen but not the worst either.

Troux supplied a whole range of reports within the solution that answer a good many business questions such as where am I spending my budget and on what, what will be impacted if I make particular changes, technology and product lifecycles and so on. What I found to be excellent though was that Troux provided the schema behind the reports and so identified exactly what data I needed to collect in order to make the report work rather than having to collect loads of information that would not add value, would need to be maintained and was unnecessary to answer the question.

Not the cheapest product to license but having the ability to give rights to the business users so that they can run off the reports as and when needed was beneficial in that a) we did not have to keep creating the reports but began to move our team from 'nerds in the corner who do things that no-one is really sure about and take ages doing it' to a useful group who could target requests and provide powerful and informative outputs that actually communicated something.

We found that Troux itself did not take that long to populate (it has shedloads of templates that allow collected info to be imported) but it did take much longer than anticipated to validate the information that we wanted to import. For example, we have over 500 applications - not software products - business applications that we needed to establish owners for, what business areas, what functions they were providing, which business capabilities they supported, how much they cost to maintain and so on. However, now that we have these validated and imported along with their relationships, we are in a far better place than we have ever been - and no spread sheets to try and keep up to date.