What is our primary use case?
We serve different clients of ours helping them streamline or ease out with their day-to-day activities. There is a team who identifies which activities can be automated end-to-end. They prepare a proposal sheet, which comes to us, and we do the feasibility of it: How much of that activity can be automated. Then, we proceed from there.
Currently, in our production environment, we are using Automation Anywhere version 11.3.1. In a beta test version, we are also evaluating the latest version, which is 11.3.2.
How has it helped my organization?
Previously, we had to input a password to a particular tool for the user to login. The only option was through encrypted keystrokes, and if I uncheck the password, I can see it. Now, they have a credential vault, which is 256-bit encrypted. That is the highest security that can be provided when it comes to credential maintenance. That's a day and night difference. With a credential vault, other than the user who is entering the password, no one else knows what the password is. This also helps when convincing the clients.
What is most valuable?
The most advanced feature in the current version is the security. Previously, the whole thing was like a software installation. Nowadays, it is more of a URL and credential vault. Everything is taken care of by a centralized tool, a Control Room, which is only accessible through the URL. I really like this feature. I hear that in the upcoming version that everything will be cloud-based. So, I'm really excited to see that type of an infrastructure.
What needs improvement?
As a developer or user, I feel that the performance of the overall package could be made a little better or reliable. For example, if I'm opening up a heavy Excel file, which is uploaded in some shared drive over the net, and I have my box coded to open that Excel to do some work or formatting on it, and depending on the network load and the size of the file, this client version while trying to access that file becomes unstable at times. It goes into the hang position until a human being comes in, ends the task, and restarts it. Until this happens, it does not respond.
In version A2019, it's moving from a software installation infrastructure to a cloud-based infrastructure. I am hoping that the end-to-end deployment from conception to coding to production will be much faster than it is right now. That really excites me as this is a feature that I suggested to tech support.
For how long have I used the solution?
I've been using this tool since 2014.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
I would definitely like to see an improvement in how it handles the system resource crunch and how it takes care of the pressure. That would be really nice to see.
Over the years, I have seen the solution really change. I have seen the differences that come with the subsequent releases.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
It is definitely scalable. It is very flexible when it comes to scalability. I have had projects in which the total benefit was about 12 FTEs across the globe. We would start off with 0.5 FTEs when we went into live production. Then, we started onboarding other countries or regions, and getting roles onboarded was pretty much seamless. Scaling up is a good thing that Automation Anywhere has for it.
How are customer service and technical support?
I use Automation Anywhere's tech support every day. They are awesome. Whenever I have certain ideas, I always drop them an email. Then, six or eight months down the line, I see those releases coming in which makes me feel proud.
The engineering team works on our suggestions and provides us with a patch or upgrade, which is nice to see.
How was the initial setup?
Back in 2014 (at my previous organization), I wouldn't say the initial setup was smooth. There were a few roadblocks. Both Automation Anywhere and my previous organization worked on them. Eventually, everything got sorted out. Nowadays, everything is much better than what I saw back then.
What about the implementation team?
What was our ROI?
I have not see ROI in my current organization. However, I did see ROI in my previous organization.
In the initial year after deployment, you won't see return on investment. Eventually, when your bot is more stabilized and your processes are streamlined, in the one and half years to two years window, you will start seeing return on investment. The FTE cost is definitely higher than the license cost of each bot. If your program has been thought through, then one bot can be used to do the work of approximately two human beings worth of labor. That is where the benefit is, which will start from the second year onward.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
Approximately, for a developer, it is around $750 for a license a year. For Bot Runners, it is about $550.
What other advice do I have?
Automation Anywhere is unlike any other software. Automation Anywhere provides me with my bread and butter. I just love the tool.
Understand what projects or automation projects that you have on hand. Every clients setup demands a different set of tools which can be used for automation. Automation Anywhere does try to cover all environments, though. However, there are a few other tools in the market specifically built for specific infrastructures. First, study your requirements. Then, based on those, go ahead and decide on what tool you want to use.
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.