What is our primary use case?
Primarily, it is used for automation of our daily processing with our core system, Symitar. There are the jobs that we run every day. We also have weekly and monthly jobs setup. These jobs have to do with different departments or reports run on specific days of the week or month.
We process all of our ACHs and shared draft or check processing in OpCon. Also, VISA credit card processing is all done through OpCon.
We are running anywhere between 400 to 500 jobs a day, on average.
How has it helped my organization?
The biggest benefit, as a department, is it has allowed us to move away our focus from manually processing all daily processes with our ACH and shared drafts, reports, etc. It's allowed us the opportunity to work on different projects and upgrades within our organization. It's given us time back from needing to have someone onsite manually processing everything from 6:00 am until 10:00 pm at night.
We are about 92 percent automated right now.
It has streamlined operations, specifically with the timing of our processes. We don't have to worry about if things are going to run at a certain time. The automation allows us to say, "Okay, we want this to run at this time, and this to not run until that is done." So, it has really streamlined the accuracy and timeline of when jobs run throughout the day.
Employees have been very positive, as far as the changes in their tasks are concerned. For example, our payment services and accounting department use Self Service. This has helped them from their old manual process of taking anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes for a job started to a simple click, then the job is done. So, they have been very excited to not have to go through such a rigorous process just to run one step.
What is most valuable?
The most valuable process that we use is just the basic automation with the use of Enterprise Manager, which is their user interface. We also use a bit of their Self Service product, but not as much as we want to. Our primary feature is just the Enterprise Manager, which is essentially their basic version. This feature allows us to create, modify, and test different automation processes. It also allows us to be notified in the case of jobs failing to finish, or if for some reason the job doesn't finish in time. It can tell us that information as well, but it gives us a good overall view of OpCon processes and where we are at for the day.
I would definitely rank basic ease of use as very high. It is very user-friendly. There are some processes and functions which are a little more advanced. Overall, it's something that is very user-friendly, as they have designed it to be that way.
What needs improvement?
I don't think there's a change that needs to be made other than little minor bug fixes here and there.
There are limitations to this product and certain things that it just can't do. It does not have the ability to interact with third-parties via the web/Internet. We have certain processes where we have to interact with a third-party on a website, and unfortunately OpCon just cannot do that.
For how long have I used the solution?
We have been using OpCon for 11 years.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
The stability is amazing. Because everything is on-prem, we control the network environment from OpCon to other servers within our networking environment. As far as the product goes, there has only been one time in the 11 years that we've been using it when the product has gone down. It was due to our networking going down, so it wasn't even the product. It was an internal issue.
Deployment and maintenance really only needs one person. OpCon is that user-friendly. With the right support, one person should be able to build, maintain, and administrate it. This is actually my primary role.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
Our department isn't very big. As far as people that this would specifically affect, we only have about four employees. As far as overall in the organization, it has really helped out a lot with our accounting, payment services, and card services departments. Including those departments, we are looking at 45 to 50 employees that OpCon has affected as far as automating their processes.
Its users are primarily in our IT department. We have five in our IT department, but then we also have our payment service and accounting departments who use the Self Service feature. We have about 25 actual users that have hands-on contact with OpCon. Most of those are with the Self Service. Internally, with IT and the Enterprise Manager solution, there are only about five of us who really touch that part of the product.
We are not one of their bigger clients, but OpCon definitely has the opportunity to grow. We have increased substantially from when we first started. We were only running about 200 jobs a month, and now, we are running anywhere from 400 to 500 jobs a day. The allotment for growth is there. We have just gone to enterprise licensing, which allows us to install the agent anywhere on different servers. We are just getting ready to install it on another four or five machines. The scalability is definitely there. With our program or agreements, we have that ability to grow exponentially.
How are customer service and technical support?
They are absolutely fantastic. Since I've been the primary administrator, I've worked with OpCon support multiple times. Every single time I've worked them, I've not had a bad experience. They've been able to resolve any type of situation that I may have or help with any technical assistance needs. They have been very consistent. Even with changes of support reps there, it's still been very consistent as far as the quality of support that I've received.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
OpCon was our first workload automation tool.
How was the initial setup?
The initial setup was quite complex. Because we have been on it for quite some time, the process to initially establish and build OpCon was substantially different than it is now. Now, if we were a new customer going onto OpCon, the process would be much simpler.
We weren't familiar a lot with the solution at the time of the initial setup. Also, it was more of a scripted program when we initially installed it. Whereas, now, even though the scripting is still there, the process of installing and upgrading is much simpler even for an initial install. A few years back, we upgraded from our really old version to a newer version. The upgrade only took a couple of hours. The initial install was two weeks of hands-on writing jobs, scripting jobs, and doing all of that. Now that they've built job functions into the program, a lot of that scripting isn't required. It's already built in.
Our first processes were automated during the initial install, but we were extremely limited at that point. We only automated maybe five percent of our daily processes. As far as regular implementation and automation of those processes, we really started getting into that and getting stuff active from a testing environment within a month or two. After a couple of months, I was familiar enough with the product to where I could start just going in and building automation. To get comfortable with the product, it took about two months.
As far as implementation strategy overall, after the initial install, we really tried to focus on the standard daily processing, such as ACHs and share drafts/checks. From there, we expanded into daily reports running for different departments. Now, we are even to the point where all of our credit card processes are automated. This is an ongoing strategy in which we try to automate as much as possible to alleviate the need for manual processing. The manual processing of files, or even file transfers, is a really big thing that we've been doing a lot recently, e.g., uploading and downloading files from third-party vendors.
What about the implementation team?
Their consultant came onsite and performed the install. We did an initial training on it as well.
What was our ROI?
We have absolutely seen ROI. It has allowed more time for our staff to work on projects which affect the organization on a greater level than just daily processing. This has allowed us to expand our base. It has really helped out with that.
As far as data processing in the manual entry, we are saving overall two hours a day. This would be instead of manually going eight hours. Therefore, it has saved about 25 percent of data processing time.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
Annually, we pay $29,000. This is for a blanket policy that covers everything, like licensing and support.
If we choose to purchase consulting hours, that is an additional cost. However, we've been lucky enough that we've not used all of our allotted consulting hours. Therefore, that is not something that we have had to purchase a lot of. The last time that we purchased consulting hours was roughly two years ago. We purchased a block of 10 for $2,500. It was $250 per hour.
What other advice do I have?
It's definitely worth the cost. It will help with your time management. It helps take the human error out of some of the day-to-day or mundane things, such as processes that have to be done manually. It gives you peace of mind to know that something that you scheduled will run, and if for any reason it doesn't, you have the support to help get you back on track and troubleshoot any issues.
There is not a whole lot that needs to be changed with the program. I think it's a fantastic program. I wish that we, as an organization, were utilizing it more to its full functionality. Otherwise, their functionality and processing are fantastic. Overall, it's a great product and doesn't need to change.
The biggest lesson that I've learned from using it is to not underestimate it. They have recently changed their slogan to, "Yes, that's possible." That's one of the things that I've really learned and have accepted with this program. There have been multiple times where I was quite resistant to what it could do. It opened my eyes to how powerful it is and what it really can do.
I would rate OpCon as a nine (out of 10). Nothing is perfect, but it's as close to it as you can get.
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