Automation Anywhere (AA) Review

Turnaround time for building bots is quick but the upgrade process needs revision as it is too costly

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case is for our shared service center that is located in Kuala Lumpur and Manila. These are our key target areas.

How has it helped my organization?

For a finance process, we are able to initially do it at segment level. We handle one section, then automate that section. We will then move onto the payroll side and automate that part of it. At a higher level, we are able to merge both processes. Now, we are able to do end-to-end automation: 

  1. From creating a quotation.
  2. To creating a purchase order.
  3. To doing a payment to the vendor.
  4. To payment to our employees. 

We are able to visualize the areas of automation as well as do the automation in a fast manner. That's one of the immediate contributions that we are having.

What is most valuable?

The turnaround time of building bots is quick. We are deploying around four bots per month. The turnaround time to get a design, build, and deploy is very fast. This is very good for us. It has helped us out when scaling up in a better manner.

What needs improvement?

We want them to have a clear roadmap on what they want to do and follow it. If they are moving to version 11, we want them to stay with that version. Now, I hear that they have a new version out there. I have to plan out every upgrade or movement from one landscape to another. This is a cost for us. I have to get buy-in from my leadership. That becomes a challenge for me. I need assurances that wherever you are going, you are clear on what you want to do. You don't end up with doing multiple upgrades every now and then. It's not a sustainable solution for us.

One of the things that I see in the forums is they are planning to build an ML platform on it soon, whereby we can use RPA as a starting point and have leverage on all the machine learning services available across multiple vendors: Azure, Google, and Amazon. I'm really interested to see how that works because we are already using those entities but in a different manner. We want to see how all of them work together as a platform. That's one of the requirements we are looking for.

I would like them to have more collaboration with SAP and Oracle, as those are our key products. This would provide more value for us.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been with Automation Anywhere for two years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The biggest challenge that I have with Automation Anywhere is the pace of upgrades that they do. We are not an IT company, we are a mining company. We are very conservative in doing our upgrades and moving from one platform to another. Upgrades are one of the challenges we are having with Automation Anywhere.

Stop upgrading, it's a pain for me. Or, make it easy. I would like a plan for it. Every time they upgrade, I have to upgrade my systems. I have to make sure that all the test bots are working fine, and this is a cost for us.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We are now scaling it up on the operations side for people literally sitting in the mines. They want to use Automation Anywhere for their day-to-day operations. That's the next scalable area that we're looking at.

We have developed a competency within the team as well as with our partners but we are at a juncture where we want to scale up. We are figuring out how we want to do it. One of the discussions that happened in today's forum was the different operating models we can have: a COE, business unit, or federated model. Today, I'm having calls with couple of Automation Anywhere guys to understand the best fit for us. That's how we will decide how we can scale up. We have the potential but we need to do it in a manner that can be sustainable over a period of time. 

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support is really good. The response time is good from the support team. When we reach out to them, it is only when we have a problem. Most of our team is a bit on the aggressive side if they feel the bots are not working well, but the language and communication that the operations team uses when dealing with us is very smooth. It helps us calm down and come to realistic expectations because we can't expect every problem to be solved in the first day. Their communication and interaction are really smooth. 

Our customer success manager has been really good at her job.

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

This was our first RPA solution.

How was the initial setup?

When we started out initially out, we were told that the infrastructure we had would be supported by RPA. We were going to use Amazon as one of our platforms, but it did not happen, so we had an initial challenge. We were behind our schedule by around seven months because of this mistake. Both of us learnt from our mistakes. We now have a sustainable RPA. But, at the start, this was one of the big challenges, selecting the right infrastructure.

What was our ROI?

We have already seen ROI. We show ROI in terms of productivity. We are already clocking in around 7000 hours of savings per month

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

IQ Bots are very costly. It's not a sustainable bot for us as of now. We will look for better, alternate options for that.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We had two options: UiPath and Automation Anywhere. UiPath was the cheaper option for us but the cyber security standards of Automation Anywhere were better compared to UiPath. UiPath got rejected because of that. Automation Anywhere has passed our cybersecurity standards, and that is why it was our preferred option.

SAP is also launching its own RPA tool. Therefore, it will be tough to convince my management why I should stick with Automation Anywhere until they provide the intelligence part. Though, I think they are on the right track.

What other advice do I have?

Learn from our mistakes. Choose the right RPA product and partner. The initial mistake that we did was that we wanted to do it on our own. If you are not an IT company, don't get into that. Learn from partners and use them. Use the right partner and learn from Automation Anywhere too, as they have done their own mistakes. Learn from them. Instead of assuming that you know everything and getting into the RPA world. That's the wrong choice.

Automation Anywhere is doing well compared to the market.

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