Do your homework, talk with the team, get your questions, read through the documentation, and then decide on your platforms and make sure you really focus in on whether you need clustering and the load-balancing because those are going to make a big difference in your costs, your platform, and scalability. Get that worked out first.
Then pick a use case that is very quick and simple where you don't care about the ROI but what you want to do is make sure that you're testing your environment, that all your environments work, that you can do source control, that you can promote, that you can unit-test, that you can do regular tests, that you can do deployments. You can solve all those problems without the headaches of trying to figure out how to keep the business happy, how to keep the cost down, and just focus on making your environment solid.
Hopefully, that use case is something small enough that you can do within a month or two. Once it's deployed you can see how to support it, how you test it. Then you have time to focus on your standards. What are your programming standards? What are your deployment standards? What are your guidelines for coming up with change requests? Those things, ultimately, regardless of the code, are always going to be your success and failure points.
Bottom line, when you get down to it: The coding is not going to be the bottleneck anymore, it's going to be your procedures and policies around it, your project management. Focus on that.
Automation Anywhere has made it very easy for you to install, they've got the tools to make it very simple for you to create a quick, small application and to get out there. Again, forget the ROI the first time. Get it working, get everything panned out, and then, once you feel comfortable, pick a medium case or even an easy case but one that has a high ROI. Pick something that is very repeatable but that, if you can get a bot to do it, it saves you a lot of money. That would be your next use case. And that could even be your first one if you can't find something small and simple. Once you get the experience, you get it under your belt, move on to your more mature use cases.
The tool is flexible. The tool is very easy to pick up. I am concerned with some later cases though. When we get into some complex business logic or processes, I'm not sure how it's going to handle heavier business rules, so we'll have to wait till we get to that point and we'll have to hope that our customer relationship with Automation Anywhere will help us with more complex or tricky resources.
In our organization there are 16 of us using Automation Anywhere, and we'll be at 20 by the end of January. We'll see where that number goes. And that's only been the last six months. That's a big number to put on there, where we have a bunch of stuff going on and are trying to keep it in control and figure out our center of excellence and our standards and our practices. I know the other companies may go in and throw big numbers at it but we're at 20 and that number is only expected to keep growing. That's going to be limited by how many projects can be done, how much money there is for those projects, and how many people as resources we can find. Right now, our users are developers, testers, administrators, and we have a couple of project managers who have a limited administration view into it.
Maintenance depends on the bot itself. Initially, whenever we start with a bot, we always have one person dedicated to it. Depending on the what was found, one person for maintenance is usually fine and that usually dwindles. You'll typically end up with one person who has multiple bots or automations that they are maintaining, as time goes on. If anything, it's less than one person needed for maintenance.
Overall, I would rate it at eight out of ten. It's a very simple interface. It's a very straightforward approach. You can very quickly get in and get some proofs of concept going. It has logging and some reporting. Some of the things against it are when I compare it to where I came from before and some of the features that OpenSpan had. For a developer doing coding and debugging - developing the code for reusability and debugging the code - OpenSpan had some advantages that you can't easily overcome in Automation Anywhere. That would be the two points off in my rating of Automation Anywhere, not that I would give OpenSpan a ten either. I would probably give that an eight as well, for different reasons.