Automation Anywhere (AA) Review

Provides us with great flexibility to address many use cases, but bot creation is tedious


What is our primary use case?

We mainly use it for development of finance operations, and it's been performing fairly well for the most part. We have 40 automations going right now and they run daily on the Bot Runner.

We've automated journal entries, bank reconciliations, different claims-accounting - a lot of finance processes. For example, we created a system where accountants can drop in journal entries and the journal entries will be read and posted to our system.

How has it helped my organization?

One of the processes we automated was that people who work in treasury would go into their email and download PDFs from their emails over and over. Sometimes there would be 200 or 300 emails that they would have to go through, and they would spend a whole day doing that. Now we have an automation that does it, and it only takes one or two hours, and it frees up their time too.

We have saved time or money using this solution, but I don't know how much. That information is tracked by my manager.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature of the product is the flexibility. There are so many features that you can use to develop; it can hit a lot of use cases.

What needs improvement?

In terms of the usability, the drag-and-drop, instead of being able to type, makes it hard for somebody with a programming background to get used to it. The drag-and-drop slows down development; I can't just keep my hands on my keyboard, I have to use my mouse as well.

The bot creation process is tedious. The solution has a lot of features, but since you have to drag down a lot of the commands, it can get tedious to use it. You end up having to use the mouse a lot more. You can't do it as fast as if, say, you just typed it out on a keyboard.

Since I do a lot of bot development, I'd like a different way to develop them, other than dragging the commands down. If there were a way to type out the commands, to make it a little bit easier or a little bit faster to create the automation, that would be good.

Integrating this solution with other applications is hit or miss, depending on the application. For some applications it's very easy and then sometimes, for others, it's very difficult. There are occasions when, the first time, the application doesn't work at all, so we have to use commands that are not as consistent.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability of the solution is hit or miss. It depends on what you're using it for. Sometimes it's very stable and you'll never have issues, but for some processes it may have issues, and you have to be able to fix them and develop it properly.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

What we're trying to figure out right now is how to scale this. That's where the hardware comes in. For the most part, scaling with the application is more a matter of building the infrastructure around it.

To scale from pilot to the point where we are now, where we're developing three or four bots every two weeks, it took us six months. A lot of that was trial and error, creating our standards, and hiring developers to whom we could pass the projects.

How are customer service and technical support?

Sometimes technical support has been very helpful and they've solved a problem very quickly, while sometimes it takes a month or a few weeks to get a problem solved.

How was the initial setup?

The setup was complex because we didn't want to just start making bots immediately. We needed to build the infrastructure around it so that, in the future, it would be a lot easier for us. Once we had a process for how to build bots, it was a lot easier for us, and we had proper standards.

What about the implementation team?

We used Neuralify. They helped a lot in getting us set up and it's been a good experience working with them.

What was our ROI?

I'm not 100 percent sure how we measure the ROI of a process we automate because a lot of that is handled by my manager. From what I know, we measure it based on time returned to the employee. Instead of calculating how much time it takes for the automation, we calculate how much time the employee was spending on this task beforehand, and now that we've moved it to an automated process, how much we have saved them.

Overall, I think we have seen ROI, but I don't have specifics.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

On the shortlist we had UiPath, Blue Prism, and Automation Anywhere. They ended up using Automation Anywhere because it was the most flexible and the easiest to use.

What other advice do I have?

Instead of trying to build a bot immediately, first build the infrastructure for how you want to build the bots. That way, when you scale in the future, it's a lot easier than trying to figure that out after you've already made multiple bots.

I have taken courses at the Automation Anywhere University, but for the most part the courses have been very basic. I had prior training, but when taking it again in the University, a lot of it was just going over the basics of Automation Anywhere.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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