Automation Anywhere (AA) Review

We have established more reliable enterprise business processes which we can run 24/7

What is our primary use case?

We use it for back-office administrative business processes, within order-to-cash. We have an end-to-end process automation that supports customer billings. We also have task-based automations that process either customer credit memos, or credit and re-bills, working within SAP.

We started with the solution on-prem and we have shifted to an AWS cloud environment.

How has it helped my organization?

It has allowed us to establish more reliable business processes, when transacting in our enterprise systems. It has improved the reliability of our monthly billing processes that, in the past, was dependent on manual, nine-to-five types of activities. We can now schedule those activities, process 24 hours a day, and then we review exceptions. I would emphasize and underscore the reliability aspect and the ability to process 24/7.

It is highly reliable, both from an uptime perspective and regarding data-quality and input into the systems. It's doing the same thing, every time, with 100 percent accuracy.

To put it in terms of hours, we are approaching 10,000-plus hours of capacity on an annual basis.

What is most valuable?

There aren't any features that are specifically valuable. We are not using IQ Bots.

What needs improvement?

On the cognitive side, some of their competitors, when we were originally shopping, were a little more advanced in that space. Making use of probabilistic outcomes and presenting them to a business user is a feature that, at the time of our evaluation, did not feel like a strong, mature solution for Automation Anywhere. Nevertheless, they won our business. That is one feature where I feel they are trying to make investments to address those gaps.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using Automation Anywhere ( /products/automation-anywhere-aa-reviews ) since January of 2018, so a little over a year-and-a-half.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The platform has been very stable. There have been a few Control Room issues when adding new VMs, but overall it's very reliable. I'm pleased with the performance so far.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We are pleased with Automation Anywhere's ability to scale. We are convinced that it is a platform that we can scale, and we are convinced that it can function and operate within our environment.

We have six-plus use cases in production today. But those business processes are very complex. They are touching many systems. Our definition of a bot is a business process, not a task. Some companies call a bot a task. We don't do that, we call it a business process. We have six business processes that are running, which are very complex in nature. 

Regarding the scalability of a single business process, we have found that to be very easy. We have found Automation Anywhere to be very friendly when it comes to that. We add capacity in the form a virtual machine and a license to scale and meet the needs of the business.

How are customer service and technical support?

We have not dealt directly with Automation Anywhere's tech support. Historically, they've been pretty good. I'm relaying that from my systems integrator and my helpdesk support. I always ask if they are getting what they need when they need it and the answer is yes. I'm pleased with the feedback I'm hearing.

How was the initial setup?

The original setup was easy. What was difficult was adding licenses. I went a month where I was paying for licenses that I couldn't use, for various reasons. That was painful.

I'm not familiar with how long it took to stand up the environments. It was pretty simple from a PoC point of view, with the free trial licenses that were made available to us by AA in conjunction with their preferred systems integrator. That was fairly painless. Standing up the production environment was relatively painless as well. We had no problems whatsoever there. However, as we scale and add licenses, we have challenges.

What was our ROI?

Based on our use cases, we have seen a return on our initial investment for the PoC, and we are continuing to leverage the platform as we scale.

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

Price is where I'm least satisfied. Other vendors are more willing to offer discounts.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked at Blue Prism, UiPath, and WorkFusion. Those were the vendors that were strongly considered when we were evaluating Automation Anywhere's capabilities. There was a laundry-list of others, prior to those, which we evaluated from a market-research point of view.

We valued the market presence of Automation Anywhere. We valued the ease of use, when we were thinking about scaling out to the business. The recording feature, while not a developer tool - it is a tool for a business user who may not possess the thought process of a developer - we valued that in our evaluation. Those were the two major factors. 

And at the time, the commercial terms as well, the one-year commitment, was appealing to us when we were shopping the solution. We didn't want to sign a multi-year deal on a technology platform that wasn't proven out to our business. That was another factor which gave us comfort as part of the decision-making process.

What other advice do I have?

At the start, I advise picking a portfolio of use cases to start with. Some will over-perform and others will not. Think of it in terms of a portfolio approach to sell the concept to your organization. My second area of advice would be: Do not automate systems that you do not own or control, unless you are willing to accept the degree of maintenance associated with that automation.

The biggest lesson I've learned so far from using it is that it's not as easy as the salespeople say. The biggest challenge is that not all automations are created equal. To give you some context, there are automations that I still don't have in production which have taken me over half-a-year to build. You talk to a sales guy and he says, "Hey, you can build an automation and be up in two weeks." Yes, but will that automation add a drop of value to the business? Probably not. The challenges are around stabilizing our complex automations.

Anything Google-related is challenging. I didn't really receive any help from our systems integrator or from AA when it came to the Google platform. We paid, extensively, to learn the hard way.

As part of our CoE, we rely on a third-party for development and maintenance of our automations. That means we have no users of the solution in our organization. The third-party has access to Bot Creators, they have access to our development environment and Control Room. They promote code to production and maintain the automations.

We have plans to increase our usage of the solution in the future. It is our intention to build an internal capability, over time. The processes we are looking to automate are more within order-cash and back-office. We have some administrative, travel, maintenance. Our IT ticketing system spawns maintenance; there's also account-creation and maintenance. That's an area of focus for us. And we're exploring reporting capabilities which are on the simple side. That's the area where we're targeting internal development and building an internal competency. It's what we characterize as simple automation use cases.

Overall, Automation anywhere is pretty good. It's not perfect but it's up there. I don't have a point of reference, other examples, but I think it's pretty good at what it does.

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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