Automation Anywhere (AA) Review

Manual, repetitive work has been reduced considerably


What is our primary use case?

We work in a very complex type of environment. We do a lot of data analytics and strategy consulting work. The work that we have automated so far is our legacy suite of applications, doing all the reporting, data extraction from different web sources, and collating the information, then publishing to websites.

We use RPA or the Automation Anywhere tool to orchestrate the whole process. We combine it and integrate it with other API and Python solutions to help get the data from a particular source, whether it be an FTP source or AWS environment. Then, we make those validations using Excel. After that, we do our QCs and validations, then publish or submit the reports.

We partner with a few other vendors as well for different use cases based on the type of clients that we are working with.

How has it helped my organization?

We feel our team is more involved in the whole process to give better ideas and give new use cases to help automate things. Things that were very repetitive and manual, such as creating daily checklists and reports, those have been reduced considerably. Our team is very happy about that.

What is most valuable?

Automation Anywhere has a very rich and easy to use interface. This makes it very intuitive. As an organization, we give training to business users to help them automate themselves. It is an easy to go, create your own scripts, and logic. The typical commands which they have in the workbench are very helpful for us.

What needs improvement?

New versions keep coming up. The challenge for us is to have the downtime to do the migrations. This could be improved upon. We would like fewer version changes and upgrades happening to the application. While the downtime is not that much, depending on the business processes, there are times few critical processes are running on a daily or hourly basis. We would expect the downtime to be even less for them.

There are a few internal applications that we have where Automation Anywhere needs to be added. We need to get those applications embedded so the integration process between those applications is smooth. E.g., With a Citrix type of environment or VDI environment, we have not been able to get the right information. We have to use the coordinates. Recently. we attended a session and realized that they have come up with an IQ Bot and computer vision technology. Therefore, we have some use cases which we want to leverage.

Our focus would be for them to keep innovating for more intelligent solutions which can merge your text to speech. These types of solutions, along with other ML and AI capabilities, can solve for the larger objective and typically RPA platforms are not able to do. The type of applications that we use are very large and different. They are not the typical ERP systems or systems which normal organizations would have. If they could bring AI and ML capabilities onboard, this would help me rate them even higher.

For how long have I used the solution?

We started our journey three years back.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability is great. We have very few issues. 

We just migrated to version 11. Though, I don't know the exact version. It was a seamless experience. The whole integration and migration has been very smooth for us.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is an important aspect of it. We believe they have been doing it pretty well. Earlier, we were doing everything as an on-premise implementation. Later, we moved to an AWS environment, hosting everything on our cloud machine. This helped us scale the whole solution and reach our multiple clients in projects that we were engaged in very quickly.

We believe the A2019 version is meant to scale the tool to a larger audience.

How are customer service and technical support?

If we have issues, the Automation Anywhere team is always available to support us, as there are account managers and customer support managers.

We use the technical support a lot. We have our own dedicated tech support. Whenever an issue arises, we raise a ticket and it gets resolved based on criticality - within a few hours to 24 hours is usually the turnaround time. They are very helpful in terms of setting up conversations and meetings to understand an issue, then take it forward for resolution.

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

We already had a process excellence transformation team doing the typical operation excellence type of work process improvement and process re-engineering. We decided that it would be better to help us take the leap of automation and go from the third or fourt-generation improvements we were doing since those were long-time deployments and bring a change. We were looking for faster adoption, an easy to deploy solution, and achieve a quick ROI. This is also sellable to our leadership and makes sense to take to a larger scale. That was the whole idea.

We first thought of implementing internal system automations, legacy application automations, and Excels automations. However, when we realized the potential of this technology, and how it integrates along with its seamless environment setup. That was the go ahead for us, and we started our journey.

How was the initial setup?

Initially, because we started everything in-house (did not partner with a consulting firm or the typical technology integrators), it was difficult. Then, we started learning the architecture and environment. Automation Anywhere gave us a dedicated support to set up the whole journey for us in the initial few years. It went from strength to strength after that.

What about the implementation team?

We built up the whole capability in-house. Automation Anywhere helped us with the setup.

What was our ROI?

From the second year onward, ROI is achieved, which is a great thing because year-over-year you are accruing those benefits.

We have deployed it across multiple processes: reporting, data management, or sales strategy work. We have achieved a scale where we are in a position to close $1M of benefits.

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

The number of licenses that required when evaluating a solution was not a hundred bot licenses or Bot Runner machines. At that time, we were not looking at scale and that is where Automation Anywhere helped us.

Including the AWS setup and everything per license, it costs us around $10,000 on an annual basis. I believe that is pretty reasonable considering the teams that we have. 

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated the top four vendors: Automation Anywhere, Blue Prism, UiPath, or Kryon. But, we realized the type of use cases that we had and wanted to try first to deploy them. Those vendors had enterprise large-scale license models in place, but we wanted a use-per-license type of system and support structure with its communities. Automation Anywhere reached out to us, and said, “We will do a free PoC and pilots for you. If you feel the solution is suiting your set of use cases, then go ahead and purchase.”

We set up the whole team and evaluated a few vendors. What prompted us to go with Automation Anywhere was our typical use case that we cater to. They were not run-of-the-mill, large volume, highly repeatable work. We have processes where only two to three people are doing the work and not many volumes coming in that.

We wanted our vendor to understand our challenges. We had multiple meetings before Automation Anywhere could understand what work we do. Then, it was like, "Aha." So, it took us time to reach where we are, but we have now partnered with them, and it's going great for us.

What other advice do I have?

  1. See how your use case fits with the solution. A few uses cases may be good for you.
  2. Take a look at the cost model. Do you want to go for a big bang approach or large-scale implementation?
  3. Customer support: Organizations fail to understand when you have deployed bots in the production systems, and they are up and running, that you need a very robust, strong support system. This way if any issues come up regarding the application/solution, teams are there to support you.
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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