What is our primary use case?
We use OpCon for job automation for our core financial software. The majority of it is pushing files between vendors and our core, for processing, marketing mailers, and reports. We also have their Self Service software, so employees can kick off a job manually and it fires off certain jobs in our core. It then pushes and pulls files and sends them off to vendors. It could be processing file maintenance. There are a whole host of things that we use it for.
We're on Symitar's cloud software, EASE, and they have their own OpCon that our OpCon, on-premise, talks to.
Before we migrated to EASE, we were running about 2,000 to 3,000 unique jobs a month. Now, we're running about 1,500 unique jobs a month or about 300 jobs a day.
How has it helped my organization?
When we first got the solution in 2009, we were on-premise for our core vendor as well. We had two operators, full-time positions, who would run our Good-Night. Over time, probably within a year or so, both of the operators retired and we didn't have to hire new staff. So it replaced those FTEs.
We used to have to process all the ACH warehouse items manually. Now, with EASE and OpCon, it's just done through notifications and all we do have to do is correct exceptions on a daily basis. That's allowed us to be more "deep-disaster-recovery" ready. Personnel don't have to be onsite to do that now, they can do it remotely.
We definitely have been able to repurpose employees and free up a lot of the busy work and let them focus on the important parts of their jobs. I would say 30 to 40 employees have impacted over the years. They have reacted very positively. Our queue is always full of new ideas about what to implement. The well is deep in terms of what we can do with OpCon. It's just getting the man-hours to automate.
We're 10 years into the software. It's hard to gauge how it has affected our data processing times, year-over-year. But at first, kicking off jobs and scheduling jobs was entirely manual and we had all these different holiday schedules we had to keep track of. It was just a mess of paper that our operators would use. OpCon was able to just have all those frequencies built to the point where we can just review them on a daily basis. At that time, it improved things almost 100 percent.
What is most valuable?
- Being able to automate jobs and have a central location where we can see how the day is progressing.
- Getting alerted when something fails, and be able to escalate that with our employees.
Those are the most valuable features for us.
Also, while there's a learning curve to get your mind around how their schedules, jobs, and frequencies of the jobs operate, it's a pretty fast tool to learn. There's a lot of depth to it, so you can really get down in the weeds and become an expert in it. It's a fast learning curve. It took about a month to be able to get a pulse-check and see where we were at in jobs. Being able to create and modify jobs and schedules takes about three months, tops, to be able to do them comfortably. You could probably do it from the onset, but it's always shaky learning something like that.
What needs improvement?
I know they're getting ready to remove the thick client. It would be nice to go to a fully thin client.
Also, it takes something of a learning curve to learn the interface. Some of it isn't quite as intuitive as it should be. They definitely have roadmap items that they're working on to improve that.
For how long have I used the solution?
We've been using OpCon since 2009.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
I would rate the stability high, with our situation. They've got a lot of baked-in support with Symitar and they're very much a VIP partner in how we run our business.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
It's very scalable. Right now we're barely scratching the surface of what it can do. I've looked at Symitar's instance of OpCon and they're running something like 13,000 jobs a day with all the clients that they have. So it can go from small use cases like ours to enterprise-level.
How are customer service and technical support?
Their standard technical support is very helpful. They're very quick to respond. They're quick to set up a WebEx and look at a problem. I've never had any problems with getting support from them, both technically and from Professional Services.
How was the initial setup?
The initial setup was pretty complex. By nature, it was complex. They had to sit down with us for a few weeks and go over how we ran our jobs. We were building that into OpCon and verifying it, and we were doing that while learning the software. It was a lot to take it on, but they were with us every step of the way and they answered all our questions. From an implementation standpoint, I don't think it could have gone better. They also had staff present from Symitar, our core, so it was like a hand-in-hand operation.
The implementation took about a month.
At first, there were a lot of meetings over the phone to go over how our infrastructure was set up and to outline all the different jobs and processes we were doing. They had different experts that we talked with to set up each part of OpCon. It was many meetings and then, onsite, it was a full week to get us ready to go.
What about the implementation team?
We consulted with OpCon's staff onsite.
Our experience with them during the deployment process was great. They were very helpful, very friendly. There wasn't a stupid question that we could ask. They were quick to answer and provide us reference material.
And over the years, they've been that way. We occasionally contract hours with them if we want to do something that's a little bit more complex than our staff can handle. They're very patient over the phone. They always offer onsite consultants as well, for a fee, but their remote consultants are great. We always buy contract hours, dedicated support, when we want to add something new. That's not to fix something that's busted.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
On a yearly basis our cost is between $25,000 and $30,000. I don't know if our contract is different from what a new client would get, but we have unlimited users with our Self Service. That gives us a lot more scalability. We can spin up different machines and different servers all over our network.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
I wasn't involved in the discussions, but I don't know of too many solutions that would have the same level of features. OpCon is the only one that I know of that has a connector to the EASE environment.
What other advice do I have?
My advice is to set aside as many resources as you can — personnel and time — to make sure that your implementation goes smoothly. Involve everybody in your organization who might find a use for it. Also, have a good communication plan for when you implement it so that people know that things are changing and, if there are issues, who to contact. And make sure you have staff trained and ready to put out any fires. If you don't have the staff, then make sure to set aside budget items to have OpCon Professional Services ready to go, after the fact.
The biggest lesson I have learned from using OpCon is what's possible. It's still a learning curve even after 10 years. You hear what people are doing, at conferences, and you didn't even think that that was something that could be done. Recently I heard about a situation where a credit union wanted to monitor social media. They had a use case where they could set up an Azure listener that would go out there and aggregate anytime somebody mentioned that credit union, and then it would pull in the comments. Then, it would build a report that would go off to the credit union's marketing department. That way it could escalate. If someone said something negative, they could respond quickly.
Automation is a work-in-progress. There's always room to automate. You get a lot of people who are a little nervous when we approach their department and ask for automation ideas because they don't want to be automated out of a job. But every year we tackle new processes. There are some things that are still done on paper, here at the credit union, things that are hard to give up.
OpCon has features that we haven't had time to even use, so I'd say we're happy with where they're at when it comes to the feature set.
In IT, there are three programmers and I who use it at a high level. There are another 15 to 20 people who use it with the Self Service portal, where they can fire off a job manually that we set up. We have 350 employees and most of the stuff is behind the scenes for the departments. It's like the plumbing in the wall. They don't really see it, but they know they can turn the faucet on and get water.
I would rate OpCon a 10 out of 10. I'm very pleased with the product.
Which version of this solution are you currently using?
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