Automation Anywhere (AA) Review

The training and resources for this tool are very good as they are so simple that anyone can easily learn it

What is our primary use case?

Automation Anywhere is removing the boring, repetitive tasks from the workforce.

I've worked on different models over different frameworks. 

I do the coding as well as the deployment side. I prepare documents and the user ID. Sometimes, if the user ID is not prepared, then I jump into the process to get it done. With the technical feasibility of the document, I take the technical feasibility and do an estimation to code the bot. I configure the bot, then code it according to the entity and get it reviewed from the client. Then, I run the bot through the Hapi port, as well as different scenarios which might come up.

Once the client is happy, we have a couple of rounds of testing. We have a "You Ready" phase where we code for a few days and the client provides data. We run through the data and this give them the technical results. When they're happy, then we finally move the code over.

How has it helped my organization?

One of the clients that I worked with to automate their process received invoices from 12 different companies and different regions. These are the process steps that we automated:

  1. We could get the data from PDFs (the invoices were in a PDF format).
  2. We accepted the data, uploaded it, and filtered out some of the data. 
  3. Once we extracted the data, we use it to search data on particular websites for a particular invoice number to be processed. 
  4. We used the invoice number to process the invoice.
  5. We got approval for the invoice. 

I worked on another process where it generated offer letters for different people with templates. We would get the data in a dump. We would take that data put it into a template, and then into a Word file.

With another client, we used to receive around a million files. Per day, we would have to process around 70,000 to 80,000 records, uploading data where the volume was huge. We deployed the process in multiple bots, using about 20 bots to get the process done. For this client, every second used mattered. We had to code the bot in such a way that we could save every second for them. We had to figure out how much time the bot took and the cost savings for any particular data. We used the workload feature of Automation Anywhere get it done. The manual process took around 30 to 40 people around five to six hours a day, where the bot finishes between one to one a half hours. This was a huge time savings for the client.

For the client with 70,000 to 80,000, we created an SQL database to maintain all their records using bots. E.g., if a bot failed, then another bot would retry using the same information. In the "You Ready" phase, this process was 95 to 98 percent successful. When we finally moved it to production, we had between 99 to 100 percent accuracy. This took us around one and a half months to set up. Two development levels were involved along with an architect who was guiding us.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the object cloning. If you compare it to the other RPA tools, object cloning in Automation Anywhere is the most valuable. Mainly for web application, object cloning comes in very handy. Most processes are built as either a website or as a desktop application. Out of 800 commands, around 150 to 200 will be cloned through object cloning. In Automation Anywhere object cloning, there is a special feature called DOMXPATH, where we can customize it to any level. If IDs getting changed, which happens in some cases, then we find out the pattern. Based on the pattern, we come to the particular text box and button. Then, we can use bots along with parent-sibling relationships to get things done. 

I like that it has PGP Command and it is able to connect to a Citrix environment. 

We have the MetaBot feature, which is valuable because we can read reusable components in the MetaBot, then use them as a framework.

The training and resources for this tool are very good. They are so simple that anyone can easily learn it. One of the tool values is its ease of use.

What needs improvement?

The Excel part needs improvement because we use it as a database. Right now, we are using UiPath for this feature, as that RPA tool allows us to sort, search, and filter in Excel databases. 

The IQ Bot is pretty immature, in regards to AI and machine learning. I would like them to add additional logic.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using it for almost two years now.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Automation Anywhere is quite reliable and stable, especially compared to the other RPA tools. E.g., with UiPath, code that was working yesterday might not work today.

We have experience minor issues with Automation Anywhere, such as with the object cloning, where it required us to restart the machine. Once the machine was rebooted, the solution worked fine.

It takes one or two people to handle the daily maintenance of this solution.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We code our bots with tasks and subtasks in such a way that we can easily combine them when new features come up.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is pretty simple and fast. It can be done from the web Control Room, which can be done easily.

For coding, we are keeping the information in XLS or XML files. We use MetaBot to retrieve the data. We keep our URLs in an Excel file, so when we go to our production environment that it will automatically take the URLs and implement them.

What about the implementation team?

One or two people can deploy the solution easily if they understand the requirements.

What was our ROI?

In most of the cases, the product value is very good. If the infrastructure, implementation, and framework are good, then generally, the client can get a good return on investment. However, getting good resources is tough since most people have limited experience in RPA products who struggle a lot to use these tools.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

The coding for Automation Anywhere is a lot easier than for UiPath and Blue Prism. I have about a year and half of experience with UiPath. Compared to UiPath, Automation Anywhere is easy to use and bot development is faster. If you try to develop the same bots in UiPath, development of the same bots in Automation Anywhere will be faster. If the client wants the bots to be developed very quickly, we will do it Automation Anywhere. However, if they give us time, then we will us UiPath. If the process is huge and complex, then we go with Blue Prism.

Another key advantage of Automation Anywhere is the object drawing feature. This comes in very handy. Whereas, if we use UiPath, we have to use the .NET code and commands versus Automation Anywhere where can use scripts or create MetaBots. 

What other advice do I have?

Companies need to do feasibility testing to avoid trying to automate processes which are not right for automation. Then, they should examine which vendor is the right one for the automation process, e.g., Automation Anywhere or UiPath. They need to establish the proper infrastructure for the RPA product, like licenses and an RPA team. The RPA can be a mixture of trained professionals and people who are learning as they go from the training provided by the tool.

Version 11.3 updated a lot of features that were previously not there, like workload automation and analytics dashboards.

I am always learning new things with this tool.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
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