Automation Anywhere (AA) Review

Enables us to develop bots to automate tasks and processing but it should have more AI integration

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use of this product as a solution is developing bots to automate tasks and processing. For example, we have financial bots and we have IT bots. We have been involved in developing and monitoring the bots for about one and a half years, mostly for finance and IT. A majority of the tasks were done by other teams.

We have automated mainframe applications and integrated the tool with web-based applications and SAP. We have automated many SAP processes, including posting the entries and POs to SAP.

We are currently planning to migrate those bots into the current version (11.3.2) to make the bots more stable.

We are using the on-premise deployment model. We have multiple processes getting automated through this tool.

How has it helped my organization?

The major benefit for using Automation Anywhere is that it has provided a lot of FA (Finance Automation) benefits. That is a major plus point for using an RPA (Robotic Process Automation) tool. Any automation tool, for that matter, has its benefits. But because Automation Anywhere is easier to implement and learn, it is possible to move the bots to production faster. Speeding up that process helps in simplifying our workflow and productivity, and allows our people to do the most useful work we can do.

What is most valuable?

The basic Taskbot itself is the most valuable part of the product for what I do. The use of IQ Bot is still in a development stage. We are looking forward to August 2019 when we should be migrating to a newer version. That seems very promising. For now, we use Taskbot and Metabot with a variety of applications.

The ease of use is good. We had someone join the company who had no understanding of RPA. He was trained on it, getting his hands dirty, then he was able to develop and start automating processes quickly within a month. 

Resources are available online. A person can get certified and start automating right away.

The Bot Store is good. Although, we have not used the Bot Store much, there are some useful bots already built in it. We can just use them in our processes if feasible.

What needs improvement?

There are several things that would improve the product. I would like to see them include a group chatbot and make the IQ Bot more stable. Just those things would be great. Adding those kinds of features improves what we can do with the product. Using a client control room concept to ensure that everything is based on the web login, would also be great. Obviously we know that the development of new features will take some time.

We are expecting those kinds of features in the future. We expect more AI integration in our technology.

Automation Anywhere could use to be more stabilized. The product is becoming more stabilized with newer versions, but there are various things that still need to be stabilized. In the current version that we are using, we have a Control Room where the client will sometimes get disconnected. This will result in downtime. Therefore, we need some stabilization from the tool perspective. We don't have any other option than to raise a ticket to Automation Anywhere or get in touch with their support to get the issue resolved. So, we are having downtime. This can be improved.

We are not completely okay with the IQ Bot. We previously used version 5. The newest version does have more accurate results.

Technical skills are required to use the product. With these tools, technical programming is still required with the guidance of technical people. Business people can go ahead and try building a few smaller processes, then when they gain technical knowledge, they can use this tool to their full advantage.

Most of our processes are attended automation. It would be great if more processes were unattended automation, so we could release more FTEs.

We are currently using third-party Taskbots. We would like Taskbots directly integrated into the tool.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using this product for developing bots for the past year and a half.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We have been using Automation Anywhere since version 9. Over that time the stability has improved a lot. We are expecting it to be even better in coming versions and this is why we are looking forward to our migration to 11.3.2 in August of 2019.

In program versions 10.3 and 10.7, what we were developing was okay. The stability was fine. In version 11.2, we had basic client login issues and database issues as well. When we have a better foundation as far as the stability, we are hopeful of getting better updates.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

As far as being able to scale our usage of the product, until now, we have been doing well in diversifying. In the future, we expect to be able to get more from the tool. Our ultimate goal is to use the tool to automate most of our internal processing and reap the benefits of RPA.

Multiple users are currently using the product.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support has been really good. Honestly, it is very good. We have been getting good support from the correct technical people quickly. One thing we would like to experience is that instead of waiting for a new version of the tool to resolve issues, that we could get immediate patch upgrades to cater to our requirements. That would be great. We are getting patches sometimes, but they do not perform as well as we might hope.

We have taken courses from Automation Anywhere University: version 11 and IQ Bot. We also attended training at the Automation Anywhere office for IQ Bot. The Automation Anywhere University courses are quite good. You can easily learn and get certified, which has some value in the market.

If you previously used a different solution, which one did you use and why did you switch?

We were looking to Automation Anywhere as a solution in a relatively new concept. We believe it was our best choice and, currently, we are hopeful that the stability and the enhancements done to the tool will pay off. We are looking forward to using 11.3.

How was the initial setup?

So far, the initial setup of versions has been straightforward and we expect it to be even smoother in the future.

Bot creation process: 

  1. We identify the process.
  2. That process will be well-documented along with the operations people, who will develop the BRDs. 
  3. After the BRD creation, we'll come to know whether the process is feasible to automate.
  4. Concurrently, a solution design document will be developed.
  5. Developers will create the bot. 
  6. Once the Bot is developed, UAT will be given to the operations people telling them whether the bot is performing as per their requirements.
  7. Once finalized, we'll get a UAT sign off and the code will be moved to production where the bot will go live.

Scaling bots to production depends on the process and how complicated it is. For a simple process, it will take two to three weeks. If the process is a bit complex, it may take close to one to two months. It also depends on how your internal compliance is organized in the company. We have a compliance check done at every phases of automation, so it will take us more time to get the process live even for a simpler process since we have to get compliance sign off during every phase.

What about the implementation team?

We did not use an external resource for the implementation, but I was there when the initial setup was in progress.

What was our ROI?

As I am currently part of a team of developers and people who perform functions, we are not directly involved in the deliberation of assets or ROIs. However, it is apparent that there is a return on investment, and we are noticing it.

We have many benefits reaped from the automation work we have done. So, I don't have the exact information about the cost and what our return on investment is, but it is benefiting the organization in a much bigger way by channeling efforts away from wasting manual time on processing.

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

As our team size increases, we may get some more licenses for the tool.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We checked on Blue Prism and UiPath. UiPath was still developing. 

We opted for Automation Anywhere. The pricing was okay for us. Also, It was easier to learn the tool and implement within the team. It is easier to learn, implement, and get things done with Automation Anywhere compared to other tools on market right now. 

What other advice do I have?

Before automating, understand the process:

  • How big is the process?
  • Is it of use to the organization?
  • How repetitive or complex is the process?

This is important because automating tasks requires resources.

On a scale of one to ten with one being the worst and ten being the best, I would rate Automation Anywhere a seven. So far it has been good, but obviously there are opportunities to be so much better.

We expect more from Automation Anywhere based on the new technologies that we know exist concerning AI and also unstructured learning. There's a lot of room for improvement, so that's why I would not rate it higher. Other than that, for data structure, it has been good — apart from a few stability issues.

Ease of integration is good. We have automated a process in the current version. Automation Anywhere will tell us if it won't support this version anymore at this particular time, so we'll have to migrate that code to the currently released new version. At that time, we may face some challenges after moving the code. We may have to do some tweaks to the code. We can't directly run it as is, so we'll have to do some minor tweaks so that it is stabilized more, then it'll be better.

As far as recommending the software, that depends on what use case and what work requirements an organization has. For structured data and for simpler processes, it is fine. For unstructured data — which should be addressed by IQ Bot and additional features — I may not recommend it yet. But for dealing with automation of straightforward processes, Automation Anywhere is good.

RPA solutions are continuously improvement due to competition. Sometimes, it is worth waiting for the next version which is more stabilized to be released.

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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