Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Anyone familiar with 'Profesy' from SOFEA Inc.?

Overall I have not been impressed with automated Requirements tools from vendors like Rational or MKS; they just seem to be just list managers with change control... but I would like to hear from anyone using one of these products who finds them useful.

The main reason for today's post is a white paper I read today, from SOFEA Inc about their 'Customer Oriented Software Development' Methodology, which is supported by their Profesy tool (which is a pretty aggresive, self-confident name, even if it is spelled with an 'f' insteaf of 'ph').

The white paper is a pretty good, almost entertaining read for 15 pages, laying out how getting the right Requirements is the most important part of software development ( a little ego-stroking for us Business Analysts) but the methods used in the past (waterfall) could not ensure getting it right, and newer methods (CMMI or Agile) that were supposed to improve this have not made any impact.

So, what is SOFEA suggesting? ...that Requirements can't really capture the 'Customer Idea' that initiates software projects, you need to transform the 'Customer Idea' into 'Customer Needs' first, and from those you can generate all the rest of the usual development artifacts, starting with the Requirements... and then the White paper ends! No example of a Customer Need! or how it is different than what a Requirement would be!

I have been cruising their website ( and have not seen any more detail; there are a few more documents available to download, but they make you identify yourself and your company before you can get the document ( I hate websites that do that!) , and I am not yet ready to contribute my identity to their marketing database. Perhaps they consider the definition and content of a 'Customer Need' to be a company secret, but they have to give it up at some point.

So, is anyone out there using Profesy? or has at least seen some more details that they could share? If so, post a comment to let me know. I am pretty much prepared to be underwhelmed if or when I get more details, but the white paper was just so good as far as it went, I can only hope they really have something good here.


Anonymous said...

Good information on your blog.

Nice work!
Stephen Ibaraki

Anonymous said...

I am Sofia Passova.
It was very exciting for me to get to know your ideas regarding BA generally, my article and our WEB site.
I would be very happy to give you more ideas regarding our product
Best Regards

Rob Beckmann said...

I had originally reviewed Profesy a couple of years ago when Sofea was still going by the name of STL. So my knowledge is a bit dated and it is for a version of the Profesy product that was still in its infancy.

But even at that time it had many powerful features. The ability to step through a visual representation of the use case (very useful when walking through and confirming a use case) and the automatic generation of test cases being just a couple of the more useful features.

Profesy also enforces some rigour and discipline in authoring use cases. The tool prevents abuses by not allowing a use case to be "bloated" and have it represent something that it is not intended to be. (I believe you've commented on this very phenomenon elsewhere on your blog site!)

Since then Sofea has added some other features. For instance, the ability to build a prototype of the user interface based on the use case.

It is definitely a product worth looking at. It could be especially useful in environments where the business analysts aren't very familiar with use case concepts - the rigour imposed by the tool will be a very helpful guide.

Anonymous said...

While Profesy seems to be a tiny but cute piece of software, Optimal Trace Professional/Enterprise Edition by Compuware leaves all BA requirement-test generating tools in the dust including Profesy. The latter might be doomed right of the butt being misspelled. Profesy is nice but applicable to narrow and simple problems only.
Optimal Trace was first developed as a visual tool for BA's by Compuware. The company took the product to the level where all features BA's can dream of are included. It doesn't get any better when all documents, requirements and tests are generated on the fly with an ultimate bi-directional traceability.
Automatic generation of reports and other documents for communication with stakeholders either based on templates or customized to company styles.
But it's not all. Or no, it's not all. Every project stakeholder can communicate in a common, understandable format--including business sponsors, business analysts, project managers, architects, developers and QA teams.
On top of everything, Optimal Trace is priced reasonably unlike Profesy as I could see.
So with all my respect, Rob, I�d certainly recommend you to try Optimal Trace where all your wishes regarding "The ability to step through a visual representation of the use case... and the automatic generation of test cases ...the ability to build a prototype of the user interface based on the use case" came true.
Profesy has too long way to go to approach even remotely what Optimal Trace can perform now. Though I can't agree with you more the White Paper was entertaining.

Jane Chambers
Houston, TX

David Wright said...

Hi Jane, nice of you to 'drop by'...

My question for either product is: do they only do Use Cases? That seems like only one piece of the Requirements puzzle.

Dave W

Anonymous said...

Not sure what they mean by identifying "customer needs". I saw the product last year and it was impressed. It allows you to create Use Cases in detail, to modify them, maintain a traceability matrix with nice grapics that identify to you impact of changes. In addition, it integrates with a test generation tool like Mercury to automate the test suite generation and documentation. And of course they have "mock-up" module. Since then, I believe they have added or plan to add Doors. integration.
But back to identifying customer needs - the tool is only as good as the individual using it; and experience counts...

Anonymous said...

Anyone compared iRise with Profesy or other tool?

GrangerMan said...

Apparently, Sofea Profesy is now known as "BluePrint" by Blueprint systems. I have had them come to present at my company recently, and the tool it seems is way more rich now than it used to be. It links Use Cases, Wireframe diagrams (with simulation functions), enumerated requirements, business rules, data dictionary, and workflows, allowing you to specify and refine requirements everywhere, and relate them to each other, or to different expressions of the same requirement. It's built on a database, hence entirely versionable. I compared it with iRise earlier this year, and Blueprint is WAY ahead in every category -- of course, iRise does not claim to manage requirements, just elicit them in the context of a very nice screen simulator. Blueprint's is about as good, but because of its database, it's far more useful. There is no way we'll ever even consider iRise. I sure am glad we did not buy iRise. See .. .and no, I am not a salesman for them.

About Me

Ontario, Canada
I have been an IT Business Analyst for 25 years, so I must have learned something. Also been on a lot of projects, which I have distilled into the book "Cascade": follow the link to the right to see more.