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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Medical Wizard's competitive analysis on how Alpha Five beats out Visual Studio, Iron Speed, Real Studio, 4D, Servoy, and WinDev

As a software marketer, you know it's going to be a good day at work when a customer sends you an email telling you why your product is better than some of your arch rivals'. And you know it's going to be an even better day when they share a competitive analysis they did that led to that conclusion. And you know it's going to be an even better day when they give you permission to run it on your blog.

Chandana Weerakoon is one of the Directors of Mouse Soft Australia Pty. Ltd., an Australian software development company that develops and markets IT healthcare products like Medical Wizard.

Medical Wizard is a suite of software solutions used for day surgeries and specialist consulting suites in Australia. Chandana had a long list of candidates to investigate when it came to choosing a development platform for Medical Wizard. 

He was kind enough to share their evaluation process with me, and sent over a full competitive analysis cataloging their selection method and final decision. 

I asked Chandana if I could share their analysis here, and he was more than happy to oblige. Make sure to give it a read, and thanks to Chandana for giving me an inside look at their search.

Hi Richard

Thanks for the reply.

I am really happy that you took time to reply to my email. It is so important for business owners / management, to be in touch with their clients directly. I myself practice this so that I am always aware of what our customers feel, want and dislike in our products and services. In that respect, now I am even more convinced that I made the right choice with Alpha.

Our selection of Alpha was based on a process of elimination. The possible candidate list was really long. In fact one of my techs, got fed up with me giving him new product names daily, to evaluate. He is a fairly active one on the net and yet he was wondering where on earth I was digging these products up.

Some of the lesser known ones we tried were Wave Maker, Evolutility, Sigma Visual, Visual Web GUI (Java / Silverlight) and few other ones that I can't remember the names now. We decided to drop these ones as they were hot projects for a while but the creators gradually lost interest and dropped them as they (got tired of ?) or fed up in maintaining them.

Evolutility had a recent release, but when we tried to do some of the more 'clever' stuff with it, it was proving to be very difficult.

Out of the more 'mainstream' / commercial ones we considered, these are the reasons why we did not proceed with them.

Visual Studio
Pros: Everyone knows these.
Cons: Frankly I am too tired of Microsoft's policy of promoting things one day and killing them the next day. In addition to Visual FoxPro, there are many other products, languages and technologies they promoted heavily one day and killed them the next. Apart from this ever changing wind direction at Redmond, I feel that software could be developed without hand coding so much to get the basics done. However, am happy to use the established libraries and third party add-ons that are commercially produced and maintained independent of the Redmond dictatorship.

Iron Speed Designer
Pros: Well established company. Surprisingly almost a monopoly in RAD tools for .NET.
Cons: Very limited flexibility. Not very nice looking outcome (not sure of the latest release). Catch 22 - to get extra functionality, you need to use Visual Studio, but if you make too many changes in VS, you can't go back to Iron Speed to maintain the code.

Real Studio
Pros: very impressive functionality list. long established company. Very open and honest hosted forums. Rich Language.
Cons: Too much hand coding required to do basic things. Too many bugs to the point where loyal followers scream at the top of their voice for the company to fix the basic errors before adding bells and whistles. The promise of Ipad / IPhone app development was a total failure as their own forums members now discuss about developing Ipad apps with Phone Gap, MoSync, Monkey and NS Basic App Studio.

Pros: long established company. Fairly large installed / developer base.
Cons: Too much dependant on its own database. Scripting language is limited in functionality. We know of a 4D developed Medical Application and it is not technically sound and hopeless in handling high volumes and large user bases.

Pros: Though relatively young company, rapidly growing. Specifically promoted to VFP community. Has tools to migrate Apps from VFP. Has Account managers who follow up prospects and clients equally. Spend time in educating the market on the merits of their wares (for right or wrong reasons) , Single source code can deploy as Web based app or Desktop based app.
Cons: Very Expensive for ISVs to buy.(Both Run time licenses and cost of product). Had a major price reduction though in the last 1 year. However, I still think it is way over priced for what it offers. Ability to customise look and feel is limited (They showcased a feature rich Medical Application done with Servoy but it looks like a system from 1990s. May be the developers were too lazy to make it look nice, but I could not see any other ones done in Servoy that looks good either. It is based on Java and it is not a language my team prefer to work on (if they can help it).

Pros: very impressive functionality list. long established company. Beautiful girls on the product literature.
Cons: Overall, their developer community is happy with their products, but many complain of the speed of translation to English as it is a French product by birth. Too hard to do anything that is not directly supported by the product. The "W" Language is similar to Visual Basic but not that elegant. Like Real Software, they are too slow to respond to bug fixes. Even though long standing company, developer base is relatively small.

On a lighter note, one reason why I voted for Alpha was, because it was so hard to dig up any dirt on the product :. After much searching, I only found very few complaints against Alpha and most of the time, these complaints were either resolved or explained very quickly. As ISVs that is what we need from our platform supplier.

Hope this shines some light as to what our thinking behind the choice we made.

Looking forward to mutually beneficial business relationship with Alpha that will continue to grow in the years to come.

Thank you once again for your interest and will get the V11 work started as soon as possible.

Thank you

Kind regards
Chandana Weerakoon
Thanks for sharing, Chandana! 


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