Automation Anywhere (AA) Review

With old web applications, we've been writing DLLs to integrate with it; that has worked well

What is our primary use case?

We're an insurance company and we use it to automate what would normally be done person-to-person by hand. We're gluing together the applications, going from one to the other to collect information to process them.

How has it helped my organization?

I can't speak for the bigger picture, but we have had a great deal of success with gluing together some of the old applications. They were built, isolated, and somewhat siloed. We have this one where you go to get this information, and we've got that one where you go to get the rest of the information. Now, rather than the team going and collecting all of that information, we can have the bots do it, and that has been fantastic.

We've had a number of processes plugged into this that have become the daily job schedule. There was a ridiculous amount of old work: Request this report, download the PDF, grab the numbers off of it and entering them. Having the automated system, while I can't put numbers on it yet, it's very easy to sell the value of the product.

What is most valuable?

I really like the way the bots are built, being able to take some old, clumsy screen that someone built and put your keystrokes and your information onto it. It's fairly simple as well.

I would describe bot creation with the word "exciting." We've had a couple of team members who have been working on projects who say, "Let me do it!" They're familiar with the product and they're very comfortable with the building process.

I also very much like the integration of this solution with other applications. We have some old web applications that we've been using, and we've been writing some of our own DLLs to integrate with it. It has worked really well. We're able to have the bots take over what would have been a lot of training and a lot of meticulous work.

I love the XML feature behind the scenes.

What needs improvement?

If there were one thing I could ask for it would be a text-based language. Right now it's proprietary, so you always have to go through the tool, even for things like basic compares. What we're trying to do is spin up other teams to get them using more and more of it. That would help, the basic .NET for basic tasks. The language itself has been working well. They should just keep doing what they're doing.

For how long have I used the solution?

It's approaching two years now.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We just got onto Windows 10 and that has gone absolutely flawlessly. Not only has it been working well, but we're seeing a huge performance upgrade. They are running considerably faster. I'd give a thumbs up on the stability.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scaling has gone remarkably well too, the ability to literally just spin up another bot. We have a collection and we'll add a couple more and no big deal happens to the scheduler. It has worked well.

To scale from pilot to the number of bots we’re currently using has taken about two years. We did a lot of experimenting before we committed to it, but once we got through a couple of those experimentation projects, we were able to form a team, figure out exactly what we were going to have to accomplish from a business point of view, and dive in. After those couple of pilots, it took about a year from when we initially startied playing with it. There was a little bit of getting our feet wet, feeling comfortable with it. But now, we have several teams and it's working great.

How are customer service and technical support?

I have not personally had to call much, I'm not part of the team that would do that, but they've been fairly responsive. We've found one or two problems that we had to come up with workarounds for and they did that fairly quickly. Then the permanent solutions came along fairly well. We have a very good relationship with them; being able to call and get that help right away.

How was the initial setup?

It was really straightforward and made sense to me. Put it this way: I have always been able to see where the product is going. It seems somewhat impressive the way it's designed, and that's why it made sense. Some of it might have been due to the fact that I took the classes at Automation Anywhere University. I got to talk to the developers, so I could see exactly what they were thinking, and it made sense.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The nice part about being on the software development side is that we have don't have to deal with licenses etc. I've had to in the past. Put it this way: It becomes easier and easier to sell when they can see what we're doing.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I was brought in right as our pilot was getting ramped up, so they had already made the decision. I did hear about the other ones but I don't know exactly what the decision process was.

What other advice do I have?

The biggest advice I could give is to just be patient. There's a lot to learn and you really don't know, at first, exactly how you go about it, how does this happen?

I started approximately two years ago, and having seen improvements to the software, I'm so excited right now about finding out where they're going. I've seen a great deal of the investment in the product as they develop it. so I'm fairly excited to be using it.

Sadly, I have not gotten into much of the solution’s cognitive document processing (IQ Bot) yet. It's a matter of learning more about it and then taking the next step. It's a matter of finding out what else we can do and we can start developing that.

I took a few courses at Automation Anywhere University when we first started. The more people that we've had on Automation Anywhere, we've found it's been working extremely well. It seems as though we're able to get them up to speed relatively quickly.

Right now, I would rate Automation Anywhere at about eight out of ten because it's obvious there have been huge improvements and it's nice for us to work with. There extra two points would come from the improvements that we're looking for: simple things like the programming interface, they could clean that up. And the compare windows are small, it would be nice if those were bigger. There are always refinements they can make. And we've seen some already. It has become faster, cleaner to use.

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