Automation Anywhere (AA) Review

Unattended bots are helpful in automating our repetitive processes but version updates need to be better tested before release

What is our primary use case?

We mostly use it on engineering processes. We also use it for finances in SAP — uploading, invoice creation, etc. But we have mostly focused on our engineering processes.

An example from the finance area is when we need to invoice a customer. We open our SAP account and upload all the data into SAP, create an invoice, and send a notice to the finance team that the process has been completed. They then move the process further along. It's a daily type of operation, whenever such requests come.

We are using the on-premise version because the cloud version (A2019) is not out yet.

How has it helped my organization?

One of the ways it has improved our organization is regarding working on Saturdays and Sundays. Obviously, employees don't like to come in on those days. When a user is not there and we want certain processes to be done, we don't expect the engineers to sit there and do them. We can schedule things via email so a bot runs on Saturdays and Sundays. That results in a reduction of man-hours. 

It automates all the processes which do not require human intervention, things which are very repetitive. That means we can give more important work to the engineers now, rather than asking them to do repetitive tasks.

We have these invoices which gets generated every month. We have to enter these invoice details into the stacks. It is a tedious task that is done by our finance team. We have automated the process of entering the details into the stack, and t reduces a lot of manual work.

What is most valuable?

The best feature of AA is the scheduling and the triggering part of it. Whenever an email comes in we can just use Automation Anywhere. We don't have to sit there. The unattended bots of Automation Anywhere are something which we find very useful.

It does not require much onboarding skills. It's easy to train anyone. We just ask them to apply logic.

What needs improvement?

One very important thing would be more support for Citrix automation. We want something to support Cisco. Citrix automation is not a very good tool. We are not able to use it properly. Even if we go through a remote desktop connection, it goes along only with the keystrokes and image recognition.

Also, when we are moving from one version to another version, it's very difficult because most of the features stop working. They should first test everything and then release the new version. For example, there's a system variable known as the Excel Cell Row. It gives you the current row of the inner loop. When going from version 11.1 to 11.3, this variable was suddenly not supported, and most of our bots were dependent on that. Everything went down and we had to start from scratch. If you do not have a developer who has done this, it's going to be a big problem in terms of the time it will take.

We need the migration from version 11 to A2019 to go smoothly. Our developers cannot be expected to enter the code again.

For how long have I used the solution?

We started using it about a year and a half ago.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I'm not sure about the stability because there are a lot of upgrades all the time. Whenever we move from version to version, like 11.1 to 11.3, if we have ten bots we have to go around and test all ten bots. And in case something is not working, we have to make changes. If they support a migration utility properly, I think it's a great tool.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is great. Nearly a 100 bots have been deployed in finance, HR, and mostly engineering. We will be implementing bots going forward in procurement.

It has taken us two years to scale to our current number of bots because we spent a lot of time on training at first.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support from Automation Anywhere is great. I have written to Automation Anywhere support many times and there is a great response from them. Even if they do not have the exact answer, they always say, "You can try this option or you can try this option."

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

We started with Automation Anywhere. The biggest reason our company chose Automation Anywhere was because we found it more reliable for our operations than any other. Also, the response from Automation Anywhere is really good.

How was the initial setup?

We started with version 10.7. When we started, initially downloading the Control Room and those types of things was a bit complex. We had the user manual, but I don't think it's very good. It misses many points. When we missed something, we needed to contact Automation Anywhere support, so there were some delays in the process. 

Then we moved to version 11.1, which was more complex and requires more of your system space.

Overall, the other process is a bit complex. They have said they're coming out with the cloud version. I think that will be a bit easier. 

The development process took us about six months.

What about the implementation team?

We have a team in our company which is responsible for RPA. It's something which we do internally for our company.

What was our ROI?

There has been a great return on investment. We are interested in saving manual engineer man-hours. So far, we have saved $100,000.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We also evaluated UiPath and Blue Prism. We chose Automation Anywhere because of how well it suited it our office.

Automation Anywhere is easier to use. With drag and drop, we don't need the uploading skills, etc. Everything is just there. You can just drag and drop, then just go ahead and do it. With UiPath, it was a little difficult to understand the process. Also Automation Anywhere has email automation.

What other advice do I have?

I would rate the solution at seven out of ten. One main drawback is that migration issue. Another thing I would like to see is support for all the other scripting languages, like Python, JavaScript and all.

Go through the Automation Anywhere courses properly to be aware of all the system variables and all the features it has. Then proceed with the development phase. Until you're clear on the basic things you cannot do anything in the tool. You need to know those things.

I have done the Masters course on Automation Anywhere University. I have a Masters Certification from them. Their courses are pretty interesting. At the end of the Masters course, we had an interview on the course itself. There were a lot of informative things and it was a great experience.

Next year, we should be moving into cognitive document processing.

**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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