Automation Anywhere (AA) Review

Frees up our staff from the mundane, repetitive tasks they were doing previously

What is our primary use case?

Primary use case would be order-scheduling for us. What we do is we take internal orders and we schedule them with our customers. There is a lot of data that we're managing both in our systems and in our customers' systems.

How has it helped my organization?

The looping functions definitely save us time. What Automation Anywhere has done is free up more time for our staff. They're able to handle exceptions in our processes instead of having to do the mundane, repetitive tasks they were doing previously.

What is most valuable?

The object looping functions are definitely very useful, especially when there are repetitive processes. We can design one path and have it do it multiple times until all the data's completed.

What needs improvement?

There are two big pain points for me. One is communication of all known bugs and the issues with the current versions that users that might be on. A heads-up of known issues would be a nice-to-have. If we're spinning our wheels, and we have that piece of information, it would make it a lot easier to either justify an upgrade or a process change here, to handle that particular bug or issue, given that it's a system-wide known issue.

The second thing is that we have a lot of use cases that depend on certain Java applets, and currently we're not able to leverage the Object Cloning that would speed up our automation designing. So we have to revert to more image recognition-type of designing, and it just takes a long time to get that bot built. We have one, solely web-based use case, and we can deploy those kinds of use cases fairly quickly and then make modifications on the fly with them. But when we have these other use cases that leverage image recognition, it makes it difficult to be agile and to do updates or edits fairly quickly.

Those are the two biggest pain points and opportunities. I have raised these issues with Automation Anywhere and they've mentioned that the automation piece is something that they're currently unable to do, but it's somewhere on the roadmap to deploy. We just haven't received the date for when it will be.

For how long have I used the solution?

Less than one year.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's mostly stable. Sometimes we do notice that our Automation Anywhere services get disconnected. That happens, maybe, once every three weeks. When the service is disconnected, you can't run any automations on that particular environment. So someone has to go in there and reinitialize those. But for the most part, it's pretty good.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

From the current setup that we have, I'm not sure how much we can scale up. We had an initial PoC and our first go-live was less than a year ago, so we haven't had those discussions on what it would take to either increase by one or two servers or 20 servers, or what that would look like.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is pretty great. Sometimes, I feel that their office hours are not in line with our office hours, so getting a response can take either half a day or a few hours. With production outages, we can become dead in the water.

Once we do have someone on and responding to our tickets, they're pretty knowledgeable. If a ticket has not been routed to the correct technical support group, it gets routed fairly quickly and addressed. Their knowledge is pretty good.

The only times that I would have negative feedback about support are when we go through most troubleshooting techniques or steps that a technical support agent would walk me through and, at the end, the problem is deemed a bug. That's when I would feel like we were spinning our wheels. I know that those are the necessary steps to identify it's an actual bug and not some sort of configuration or update that we needed.

Our current customer success manager is fairly good. He's always on top of our tickets and if I ever raise a question to him, he's definitely very helpful. I do feel like we're being taken care of.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Sometimes we used simple data loaders or macros from Excel, but nothing more advanced. Our organization began to look at something like this solution because, from a resource standpoint, there was a need to expend more on the workforce. Not having to expand our workforce even more was preferable, if we could carry out these repetitive tasks through an automation. We definitely wanted to leverage that instead of adding more people.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was pretty simple. We got the minimum requirements for all of our environments, and we had a technician, a technical expert from Automation Anywhere, who walked us through the setup. That was actually the easiest part.

From a software installation standpoint, it was roughly a couple of hours. But from the infrastructure side, there were some setups on our end that we needed to carry out. That took a little while longer.

Three people were required for the deployment. One to coordinate resources, another from our side, and one technical expert from the Automation Anywhere side. In terms of people involved in managing the solution, for the entire software, we have roughly one stakeholder for each department that we have automations in. The solution affects many people, but the number of people who are actually involved in designing and maintaining it, is between five and ten.

What was our ROI?

We have seen a return on investment. Every time we have these processes running, it's definitely helping out on that front.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

There were a few top candidates out there. We had demos and we went through the entire vetting process. The standout qualities of Automation Anywhere were the ease of automation and that it is an intuitive tool. After a simple walkthrough, a couple of hours, you would be able to hit the ground running.

What other advice do I have?

Definitely take an inventory of all the systems that you have plans to carry out the automations in and ensure that the software is compatible with them. You definitely want to have use of that automation. As I mentioned, a few our use cases have to leverage image recognition, and that isn't really all that flexible. It just increases our automation time. 

Every customer will receive a demo of how easy it is to create an automation through a web browser, but it's really all those other applications that a company may have that bring the most value. You want to make sure that you take that inventory and that Automation Anywhere gives you a thumbs up that they can automate fairly easily.

We're trying to leverage the analytics module. Right now, when we carry out a process, we'll have records of all the orders that were processed but they're all in separate spreadsheets. It's a painstaking task to consolidate all that information to get an idea of how much work we actually did. I know there's an analytics module which we haven't been able to leverage yet, and that's one of the reasons we want to upgrade to version 13.

Any increase in usage will depend on ROI and justifying it. We've had some initial requirements but we haven't ironed out many concrete details.

I would definitely rate the software a nine out of ten. If it covered all use cases and all software, if it was that easy to automate, I'd give it a ten. But since there are some applications that are not as compatible as others, there's some room for improvement there.

Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.

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