OpCon Review

Simple to use and allows us to schedule jobs with varying frequencies while preventing manual errors


What is our primary use case?

We use it for batch job automation and batch processing automation.

How has it helped my organization?

It has reduced our manual processing times by a good 75 percent. We had over 500 processes a day, since we process jobs for over 40 clients. We were able to automate all that.

OpCon has definitely freed up our resources and allowed us to continue to bring in more clients without adding additional FTEs. Because we are a 24/7 operation, we have 13 employees. We have doubled our client volume without doubling our employees.

As far as streamlining, goes, the scheduling allows us to schedule jobs with different frequencies, and it prevents manual errors and eliminates keystrokes.

What is most valuable?

All of it is valuable. We've been very successful with it and really reduced our manual keystrokes and manual errors. The greatness of it is the flexibility of the scheduling and the integration of all platforms and processes. We have integrated it with everything from AIX to Microsoft Servers; with pretty much anything that we can.

The product is easy to use and it's simple to automate processes. It's a GUI interface. You don't require any special programming skills to use it.

What needs improvement?

If there is anything that needs improvement, it would be the file watcher. That could probably be simplified and easier to configure. To configure the file watcher you have to have a good understanding of OpCon. If they could improve the process of how it looks for a file, as well as the configuring, that would help.

Some additional logging-information reporting would also help. They have all the information there but you still have to search around and look back. It's not right there for you, where you click and can get the reporting. You have to know the system and do some additional searches. So reporting is another area that they can build on by simplifying it. 

Another area for our improvement is the upgrade process. We continue to need to bring in SMA OpCon to perform upgrades. If they simplified that and give more direction to the clients for performing upgrades, that would be good.

But other than that, we've been really happy with the product.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been using OpCon for over five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It has been a very solid system for us. We really haven't experienced a long period of downtime. And when there were issues, SMA support was able to come in and resolve them immediately.

There hasn't been a problem with the whole system, but there were certain releases that created problems. We got a temporary workaround from SMA. But it was nothing major or something that kept us down or made us divert to manual processing.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have been going from release to release with them and they've continued to add features and improvements. They have also added on products. So I think they are on track. They really have a solid system and I have confidence that they will continue to scale and bring in more features for our automation.

How are customer service and technical support?

Their technical support is excellent. There have been several times where I have had to reach out to them and they responded immediately. They always have the answers to my questions and come up with solutions. I haven't had an incident where anything was extended over a long period of time. They have definitely been very helpful and knowledgeable.

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

Autobatch was one of the solutions I used previously. It was a free product that we downloaded, and then someone wrote some scripts. We didn't get to the point of purchasing it. OpCon is more of a high-end product. You get what you pay for. I don't know how we would continue to grow our operation without the help of OpCon.

The limitations in Autobatch which OpCon overcame are due to OpCon's ease-of-use and the configuration. I wouldn't have been able to train my team to start building jobs on the other solution if they didn't have a good technical background. With OpCon, it's much simpler.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward.

When we first started, the deployment took about one week, and that includes training from SMA OpCon as well as Jack Henry Symitar. After that, all the upgrades take about two days.

Many of the other solutions I've used require a lot of scripting and coding. OpCon is more a GUI interface and I was able to get a lot of my team training on this with ease, without sending them to any classes. A lot of my team members can build jobs, from simple to complex, with SMA OpCon, without going to any additional classes.

It's very efficient and straightforward to implement a new job. If I get a request today, I can do it within the hour and have it ready to run. That's how simple it is. I don't need four hours' advanced notice. We started deploying things ourselves immediately after training. They came in and trained us, created some sample jobs for us, and we took the sample jobs and were able to recreate them. We just followed the steps and started applying them. That feature, where we can copy one job to another, is great.

As for our implementation strategy, we have a live system and we had a test system, so we built two systems. We started to build the schedule and the jobs on pre-prod system. Once everything was tested we went live, and we kept the test system for any other testing that we might need to do. Eventually, we got rid of the test system because we were able to do everything on the live system. We're able to test a job — not actually run it, but test it — before we deploy it.

What about the implementation team?

When the SMA technicians came onsite during the initial deployment, our experience with them was good. They were very knowledgeable. They had a good understanding of the system and they gave us very good pointers. They were very efficient and on-schedule. The whole implementation process was seamless and very smooth.

What was our ROI?

We have definitely seen a return on our investment with OpCon. As I mentioned, we have doubled our client base without needing to increase our workforce. 

We are able to take on additional projects. Our operators are not just running batch jobs, they're monitoring batch jobs and it has allowed us to use them as resources for other things. They have been happy to be assigned to other projects, and they also like to learn more about OpCon. They enjoy building the jobs and doing the automation.

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

The pricing is over $100,000 for our credit union and I believe it's $89,000 for our clients, in total, annually.

There are additional costs with some of the upgrades. When we need to do upgrades, we will have Professional Services help and we have to pay for that. But the cost is maybe a few hundred dollars. Upgrades usually require two to four hours of their time.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I've used other job schedulers before and the flow of the automation wasn't that efficient, where OpCon's is easy. It's a lot of drag-and-drop. You can copy one schedule to another. You can copy one job to another. It's very easy to use and does not require heavy, intensive knowledge of OpCon.

There wasn't much else out there, at the time, for our core system. OpCon partnered with Jack Henry Symitar, so it was a product that was recommended by the maker of our core system. We didn't really do a search for an automation vendor. We were using one that was out there for free and when the opportunity came for OpCon, with the right pricing for our budget, we took advantage of that. Since then, we've been on OpCon.

What other advice do I have?

What I have learned from using OpCon is that everything is possible within OpCon. Each time we have a new process, that's what we look at first. We try to build everything around the automation.

You will definitely see the efficiency and improvement in your day-to-day operations by using OpCon. My advice would be, during the implementation, to try to build as many sample jobs as possible so that you can reuse them.

OpCon is now managed by my computer operation team. Right now don't share it out to other users. We use it to automate our batch processing for over 40 credit unions that we support. When I say support, that means we do their core processing, their batch processing.

In terms of deployment of upgrades and maintenance of the solution, it's normally just one or two of my team members, or myself, working with SMA's support. They come in and we work with them and we get the upgrade completed and then we go live.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises

Which version of this solution are you currently using?

18
**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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