What is our primary use case?
There is not one specific use case in the sense of what we use the product for. In the broader scope, it would be automation. But right now we have several applications. We started our journey with the tool in 2017, and we have automated several processes in finance, IT, and engineering.
In finance, for example, we have automated cash application, billing processes, reporting, payment processing, and we are using IQ Bots to automate our invoice processing. We completed the pilot, which provided us with phenomenal results. So we tested with a small entity with 30000 invoices and around 300 suppliers with a high level of success.
The character extraction capability of IQ Bot is much, much better than the other OCR (Optical Character Recognition) engines that you have in the market today. So we are completely pleased with that, and we are planning to upscale our invoice automation processing.
How has it helped my organization?
Today while we look at the opportunities in front of us, our customers are expecting us to be more productive and execute with greater speed to be relevant and competitive in the market. The expectation as far as the accuracy is really very high, and we need to be compliant. We have experienced that the more manual and hands-on that we are that there is a higher risk of being non-compliant.
There are skilled companies who are spending more time on transactional activities. For example in the engineering field, there are engineers who are spending time on transactional activities and there are finance guys who are spending time on transactional activities that could be automated.
We can use intelligent automation with great value in helping these people upskill themselves into newer areas of analytics, new roles in reporting, and project accounting in finance. We're trying to eliminate these transactional activities, be faster over time. We started by looking at specific activities and we looked at the processes. Now, we are looking at a complete value chain. When you look at the complete value chain, that's when you actually begin driving positive change in business results. That is our projected approach for the next couple of years. We'll be looking at the complete value chain and see how bots can help us make our process more efficient.
What is most valuable?
The most valuable feature is the IQ Bot's ability to extract information accurately. It can do things like process table-level information, line-item level information, etcetera, and the accuracy is really very high. All of our users are accountants rather than programmers or anybody with an IT background. The accounting people can easily learn Automation Anywhere. We tried a few other tools but our folks were more comfortable using Automation Anywhere. They felt that it is easy to learn, and it was easy to train them as to how to use it.
What needs improvement?
In the next release, I think it has to be more compatible when deployed with the Citrix environment. That's one bottleneck that we have seen. Technically when we used the IQ Bots, we couldn't work directly through the Citrix environment. With our ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) setup, we needed to access it through the Citrix environment. Because we were not able to do that, we had to have a workaround. We are currently working with Automation Anywhere to have that fixed. They have given us confidence that it can be done.
For how long have I used the solution?
We have been using this solution for two years.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
When looking at stability, we have to remain ready for any surprise even if we have not experienced any stability issues. We don't know what that kind of surprise will be, but we have backup plans in place.
In case the tool fails, we may not be as fast as the bots, but we have a BCP (Business Continuity Plan) but we know we can't be specific on what challenges will come, because we don't know.
In two years, I think once in one process where a bank changed its user interface on the bank website, a bot failed. We had to go and correct it. It was a fairly quick fix because to create it doesn't take much time. Changes like this are not predictable.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
If you look at our shared services, we are growing and we need to keep our costs flat. This means I cannot hire more people. This need for greater efficiency is made up by what I have been able to gain out of the automation. We are actually using automation to move more processes into our shared services. Ours is a private business and we create big cement plants. One project could last for five years. When we land a big deal our volume spikes. It's a very cyclical business. It has been very easy for us to deploy scalable solutions now.
How are customer service and technical support?
The company is very service friendly and willing to work with us when we need it. I would give them high marks for attention to customer service.
If you previously used a different solution, which one did you use and why did you switch?
Our decision to go with an RPA solution was one that I made. One of the reasons I was hired into this organization was to drive automation. There was a specific goal for that which I was tasked with.
When looking at other options in the market Automation Anywhere seemed to be the company for us for a couple of reasons. One is that when we had our first engagement with Automation Anywhere we felt that they were very customer-focused. We did not see that with the other service providers. They really came prepared when they first met with us. They had all their books, IT, operations, delivery plans and such, so they were able to answer all our questions. They were very flexible in meeting our requirements and needs.
They were willing to go out of their way to support us and to ensure that we would succeed in the journey. Some of the service providers even refused to create POC's for us. But Automation Anywhere said they would and they went ahead and created them.
How was the initial setup?
I thought the initial setup was straightforward and easy.
What about the implementation team?
We did not use any consultants for our deployment. We worked directly with Automation Anywhere. Our belief is that we know our business better than anybody so we opted for maximum direct involvement.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
Before deciding to go with Automation Anywhere we looked at other products for comparison like UiPath. We looked at the desktop automation tool, I currently don't even remember their name. The choice seemed obvious from the first impressions.
What other advice do I have?
If I have any advice to give to people who are considering this product as a solution to their automation needs, I would say don't waste time thinking too much about adopting it and just go ahead and start.
On a scale of one to ten, with ten being the best, I would rate Automation Anywhere as an eight.
If you look at the first year we had the product, we had a 6% efficiency gain. This year we are looking at 10% in finance and 12% in IT. The more we discover ways to use it, the more efficient we will become.
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.