Automation Anywhere (AA) Review

Can scale rapidly with a range of flexibility

A2019 Release

What is our primary use case?

For us, it was about driving process efficiencies. 

We have an awful lot of processes that need to be completed when we are placing candidates in roles to ensure that the engagement for both the candidate and the client is successful. So, that might include compliance activities, ensuring candidates get paid, and ensuring that work places are safe for people to turn up to so they can go home to their families safe at the end of the day.

How has it helped my organization?

There are instances where use cases and opportunities have arisen as a result of having Automation Anywhere and RPA in place that have come about through very casual conversations and have actually resulted in increased revenue opportunities that we didn't realize. Though, those have now proven to be very worthwhile and are something that we hadn't realized could contribute to us, which is making us very happy, obviously.

What is most valuable?

The ability for it to be able to be scaled rapidly. For us, it has certainly provided a range of flexibility that we hadn't appreciated before we started. This means that in times of high demand for processes to be completed, we're able to quickly scale up on demand. That gives us that additional flexibility without the need to potentially consider contingent labor increases. So, it's sort of a head count avoidance increase. So, that's proved very useful for us.

What needs improvement?

I sound like a promoter A2019 with the attended bots and some of the new features coming in with the partnership of Microsoft will be a game changer. We work predominantly within an Office 365 environment. I think there are some real opportunities there for us to do things differently.

One area where I think there's an opportunity to do things a lot better is in the analytics function. They do have a concept or product called Bot Insights. It hasn't worked for us. It isn't as plug and play as we were led to believe, which is unfortunate. I can absolutely understand the value, and the demonstrations that I've seen of Bot Insights are sensational. But, we just haven't been able to make it work. We've invested a lot of time and effort trying to make it work to no avail. So, for us, that's one side of it that has been a bit of a disappointment, but not enough to detract from the overall success story of using Automation Anywhere.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

This is one of the challenges with the platform. At the moment, we're going through a number of changes with their network and some of our infrastructure. That is impacting the way our platform is running and the stability of it. In the early days, we certainly had some difficulty making sure it was stable and that was impacting the productivity of the automation of the robot.

What makes me very happy is the announcement today of A2019, which is the web-based cloud offering, or basically RPA as a service. This will overcome a lot of the infrastructure challenges that we've been encountering. I am very excited about that because it'll enable us to really drive the benefits that we know RPA can provide.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technically, we may not get answers the first time but we do get answers eventually. The customer success managers, without them, I do wonder how quickly we might get some of the responses from the technical help desk. I can appreciate the reasons why it takes long. Everyone doesn't know everything, but the fact that we have a customer success manager who has been really critical, a key to our success, has been, and an invaluable resource in helping us drive and get those answers through the help desks.

Could it be improved? Always, yes. But with the customer success manager supporting us, it has been invaluable and certainly something that we can live with.

How was the initial setup?

It's certainly straightforward. For us, it was a bit of a test and learn approach. There are certainly guidelines published by Automation Anywhere for the recommended infrastructure. We found that they weren't completely applicable for us, and we've had to tinker with the infrastructures as we've got along. Without getting into the technicalities of it, the out-of-the-box approach that was suggested to us didn't suit our environment. So, we did need to be a bit more creative about how we did the deploy.

Again, this is why I'm excited for A2019 because I think that we will just overcome all those problems and it will allow us to really drive through and scale a lot quicker. Infrastructure is probably our biggest challenge at the moment.

What was our ROI?

We have seen ROI factors. I'm not able to quantify them right now. With the number of our bots, we have been able to let go contingent workforce that has been brought into the organization to cover certain operational processing, simply because we needed to supplement that permanent workforce to do those roles.

We've now gotton to the point where we don't need to hire those people or employ those people anymore, so there's cost-saving driven there. Our bots are helping with some increased revenue opportunities by acting on signals from the market for both our clients and candidates. Cumulatively, I think within the first year, I'd be very surprised if we weren't closed to ROI, which is a great story to be able to tell.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

There were a number of key reasons why we went with Automation Anywhere.

  1. I think when we started on Automation, and looking at RPA, we recognized that we didn't know anything. Like the first time, we saw a robot in action was when we had a demo from their sales director. So, in recognition of that, we wanted to make sure that we were going to be working with someone who was able to nurture the relationship, provide deep support to us, be highly flexible, and was patient.
  2. We were considering a direct engagement model versus a partner model. We wanted a direct engagement model. This was one of the key reasons why we went with Automation Anywhere because they offered that.
  3. The concept of the customer success manager was very appealing for reasons that I've mentioned earlier, but they would also support us in nurturing that relationship and helping us drive through our RPA journey.
  4. The Bot Store. I love that concept. We've used the Bot Store. It's helped us expedite delivery and achieve benefits. 
  5. The plugger, the drag and drop, and the scripting meant we could resource internally a lot quicker because you didn't need that deep level of coding understanding in order for our dev team to be productive as fast as possible. 

Those were some of the key reasons why we went with Automation Anywhere.

What other advice do I have?

I don't want to fan girl it too much, or even fan boy it. But, I'm a massive fan of AA. I've been in technical delivery for about 15 years. There are probably one of the best vendors I've worked with. I'm not giving them a 10 (out of 10) because then they have nowhere to go for improvement, but I certainly would put them as a seven and a half or eight (out of 10). I think the new evolution of the platform with things that I've already talked about will start to nudge it towards that nine (out of 10). They will still not get to a 10 because you know they need opportunities to improve. But, for me, they are a very good partner and a very good vendor to work with.

Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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