Automation Anywhere (AA) Review

The bot creation process is straightforward in some ways and complicated in others

What is our primary use case?

We are using it to automate company processes all across our firm: finance, legal, compliance, and customer client account servicing.

How has it helped my organization?

We have the ability now to surveil all our employees for political contributions. This would previously take 40,000 hours for a human to do. By combining Automation Anywhere and Appian together, we have been able to build a bot that works with Appian workflows to manage all our employees.

What is most valuable?

The graphical user interface (GUI) is very useful, since I don't know any coding languages. I have been able to be a developer with Automation Anywhere without knowing the technical background. I am a business user, and not needing the technical knowledge to use the system has been useful for me.

What needs improvement?

The bot creation process is straightforward in some ways and complicated in others. You can get your initial stuff laid out really quick, but then putting in your exception handling is more time consuming. It is awesome because it takes two hours to get things initially done. However, then it takes another two months to work through everything else, such as infrastructure and moving from development to QA to production. 

When I change the name of a variable in the Variable Manager, I would really like it to change in the code. We just added coding standards where I had to spend hours going through and recoding existing bots, because anything needing a change had to match our coding standards, and that now includes variable names. I just spend two days renaming variables in a bot. While it should have been superfast in the Variable Manager, I had to go through every single line of code, rename all of them, and inevitability, I will miss one. If I have already assigned a variable do something, it makes sense that if I change the name of the variable, then it should change in the code.

For how long have I used the solution?

We did our pilot about a year and a half ago.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We have had so many stability issues.

We had quite a few issues when we upgraded from version 10.5 to 11.2. We were struggling with those issues, only to find out that version 11.2 has known problems. We should have gone straight to version 11.3. Now, we are upgrading again.

We have had so many production support issues. In version 10.5, we lost the ability to run unattended bots. Our Control Room could no longer unlock our Bot Runner machines, and Zendesk could not help us. So, we spent two month babysitting every single bot that ran. Then, when we upgraded to version 11.2, we found out schedules vanish from the Control Room, which resulted in us babysitting the bots for another two months.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support is not great. We have had issues where they close our tickets when we don't respond to their email within eight hours, but they email us on a Friday night.

I had two days where I was out of the office, and they closed tickets on me. This has happened to my co-workers, as well. This has been frustrating.

I really struggle with the support team and informing them of endemic issues. They try and explain it away, but I know enough to be aware that there is a bigger issues, such as what we experienced with versions 10.5 and 11.2 causing us to babysit bots.

Not having the support has been problematic for me.

What about the implementation team?

We used a third-party vendor for the deployment. With our initial vendor, we were led to believe that they were experts. We have since come to realize this was not the case. We have changed vendors and reprogrammed our bots from the initial vendor. We are much happier with our current vendor. 

What was our ROI?

We measure ROI through a combination of hours saved, errors avoided, and quality of life, which are bots based on processes which humans can do quickly but hate doing them. We have a couple bots built around quality of life.

What other advice do I have?

I would encourage anyone looking for an RPA solution to look around at other solutions in the market.

The ability to integrate the solution with other applications is hit or miss. We have a lot of homegrown applications, and sometimes those don't work. Mostly, they work well with websites until they change the websites.

We have done a proof of concept of the IQ Bot. We struggled with it because we have sales spreadsheet that go across more than one page, and IQ Bot cannot follow it across more than one page. Also, the dp1 requirements were too high for most of our use cases.

We don't use Citrix automation.

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