Automation Anywhere (AA) Review

Anybody can develop a bot by themselves

What is our primary use case?

We wanted to automate as many business processes as possible within the finance organization since the office that we work in today is called the finance transformation office. We transform all the business processes of finance for a better, simpler, scalable finance organization. We are constantly pursuing transformation of the finance organization as far as Cisco's changing dynamic business models. We are a predominantly product-oriented organization. We transformed our business models from products to software and subscription-based business model.

How has it helped my organization?

Users can develop for themselves. This is the end stage goal for our organization: To have our finance users developing automation for themselves. Automation Anywhere lets us do that, as users can develop the bots by themselves.

I have taken one of the finance processes, which is completely Excel driven, and consolidated more than 20 Excel files of large volumes of data by drawing pivot tables and all sorts of yield curves on the Excel files. I converted this structured, formulaic process to the bot. There are features within the Automation Anywhere which let you do types of keystrokes, formatting in Excel sheets, etc. The process used to take more than 30 hours for the user to complete on a quarterly basis. With the development of this bot, the bot can run the entire process within an hour and a half. It saves about more than 20 hours of time for the user. This is just one example. There are other bots saving hundreds of productivity hours per quarter. 

It lets users add value with their time other than focusing on downloading Excel files, consolidating, and drawing up formulas. Since everything is structured, these easily are incorporated into the bot's work.

What is most valuable?

Anybody can develop a bot by themselves. It's not a technical language oriented program. Specific skill sets with language learning skills are not required. Any finance person can get in and develop a bot with a little training on Automation Anywhere. They can go in and develop themselves. 

What needs improvement?

In the version that we have, there are some challenges with the browser-based applications, the cloning of the objects, and the solution's stability. 

Automation Anywhere must be able to maintain a consistent resolution. 

The latest edition, which is enterprise A2019, has better analytics and the cloud all integrated into the bot framework. 

The client version is getting challenging to use because you have to maintain a lot of infrastructure. You must have the machines to deploy the client. However, you don't need a large infrastructure, if you can do it on the cloud. 

I would like a Bot Store for MetaBots. The MetaBot feature needs to be expanded. E.g., I would like a copy/paste from the top row of Excel where I don't need to write a keystroke. Instead, I could just use MetaBot for this.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have already launched more than 20 bots live into production. They are up and running. We are doing very well with these. We are in a convenient spot for delivering 50 to 60 more bots in the next couple of quarters.

Because it can accommodate 200 to 300 bots, the scale is not a constraint for us. It is scalable.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support is good. I have contacted technical support of Automation Anywhere quite a few times during the process of developing a bot. Their responses were good and up to the mark. There were very responsive and proactive in resolving issues. They were on top in terms of supporting the features of the applications.

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

Our finance organization needed to transform itself to meet the changing business models. We established the finance transformation office to meet the entire organization's financing transformation needs. As part of that, we identified a couple of quarters ago that RPA was one of the software solutions which could help us automate several of our business processes. This is apart from the re-engineering and re-architecture that we do to transform our entire business process. Now, there can be some use cases within finance which can be transformed through usage of automation software, like Automation Anywhere.

We have streamlined several activities, cutting down on manual activities. This has happened over the last six to seven years.

How was the initial setup?

I was not part of the setup process.

What was our ROI?

We have established a CoE and we take our bot opportunities based on their ROIs. The best ROI opportunity goes to development first. Our ROI opportunities are compliance, profitable growth, productivity enhancements, productivity gains, number of hours the productivity saved, and resources not available that the work can be done by the bot. However, the single most important criteria that we use to measure ROI is how much time does the bot cut down from an analyst's work, as this has the best ROI. E.g., if an analyst is spending a 100 hours of work that a bot can do in one hour, we calculate the 99 hours saved as ROI.

At the end of the day, finance analysts expect faster outcomes while having their manual work taken away. There should be a more diligent way for them to add value and contributing to the organization through analytics and providing valuable insights. This removal of manual work can be done using a bot. That is the goal.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Our enterprise IT team chose Automation Anywhere as our product for doing automation. Automation Anywhere is one of the best, leading automation software tools for developing enterprise automation.

What other advice do I have?

I would recommend Automation Anywhere.

I am excited about the Microsoft partnership that was announced today. Excel is a daily core tool for us. With an automation plugin, this works like a miracle for the finance team. The potential is unlimited, e.g., Office 365 and Internet Explorer will have plugins.

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