OpCon Review

Customers are happy because jobs are not missing that they wanted run at specific times

What is our primary use case?

We use OpCon to run a multi-institution environment. It allows us to keep tabs on all our customers at the same time. It's convenient in that way. If anything fails, we don't have to have our operations staff log into a credit union, or a specific institution, to find out what is going on. OpCon will tell us what is going on in each one. Therefore, our operators are free to continue on with their manual work and not worry about what is supposed to be automated. They only look into an institution when something fails. An operator can't monitor 10 screens at the same time and see everything that is going on. OpCon allows us not to need to do that.

We are using OpCon's service off the cloud (SaaS).

How has it helped my organization?

Before we put OpCon in, we had some institutions which we tried to keep running in the same way, as we have standardizations. However, there are certain times of the month, such as the end of month, where some of the institutions want to run special jobs at a certain time during the process. When we run them manually, sometimes those jobs would be forgotten. The operators would forget to run them or run them too late. With OpCon, once they are in the schedule, the operators no longer have to think about it. Once we put it in, it is done every month at the same time, then our customers are happy because they are not missing jobs that they wanted run at specific times.

It makes everything simpler. Once OpCon is in, it just repeats day after day. We don't have to worry about whether a process will be missed. It will run every single time. We are not dropping jobs or missing stuff. When you have multiple institutions, it's very easy to miss jobs. You get on a roll, start doing things, and then forget somebody. With OpCon, everything is done.

It runs faster, especially with automation, because one job runs after another. It has to be much quicker, though your speed will depend on your system. E.g., jobs that used to take us a month are getting done by six in the morning, freeing up the morning schedule. End of the month used to take us a long time to run. We would be bumping up against the next day's window. Now, we don't have any issues with that.

OpCon mostly allows employees to concentrate on manual jobs, or extraordinary jobs which come along. They can concentrate on other things, not worrying about the day-to-day process. So, it frees up their time to concentrate on their other work, instead of actually running the system. OpCon frees things up where we don't have to hire an extra person when someone is gone. A backup isn't needed; one person can do the whole thing.

Employees love it, because they were overburdened before. They will not be replaced in their jobs because of all the manual processing and everything else that they are doing. We are not letting anybody go because of OpCon.

What is most valuable?

The daily scheduler is its most valuable feature. We don't really use too many of the other features of it for our environment. As a data center, we can't use features specific to an in-house system, like the Self Service. We're not responsible for those features and just use the scheduler.

What needs improvement?

There is room for improvement needed around setting up the calendars and frequencies. I would like more flexibility in what jobs run. Sometimes, with frequencies, I can't find what I want to without putting a little more labor into it.

For how long have I used the solution?

Since 2007.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Stability has been great over the years. We had a bit of a hiccup this last year with it. We are still trying to work through that. Prior to the latest release, it was great. We didn't have any problems with it. We have had a little issue going on now that we need to handle.

My boss and a couple other people are involved in OpCon's administration. We have a couple other employees who work with it too. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I don't see any limitations with the scalability. We haven't hit anything that is stopping us from what we need to do. 

We have automated 7,000 to 8,000 jobs since deploying OpCon. We have a lot of jobs since there are up to 35 institutions with us. 80 percent of our manual processing has been automated by OpCon. We would like to automate more but the customer won't let us. They want to control the process. They may want to do something first, like check some accounts. They just don't want to let go of it and want us to run it prematurely. Therefore, we rely on them to do some things before we can run their process, but most of the main part is done.

We will be working on trying to automate some of these manual processes. We will probably end up working with the customers, trying to calm them and telling them that we can automate it. They don't have to babysit their process. It's an educational thing. We are in the process of moving our entire data center, so it's on the back-burner right now. We have other things going on so we can't devote time to doing this.

There are four employees who can work on the OpCon solution. OpCon has worked for us as a solution, allowing us to grow. We can have 50 credit unions and still be able to operate with the same staff. It gives us that flexibility.

How are customer service and technical support?

Their support is good. They will spend as much time with you as you need. E.g., If you need help setting something up, they'll help you get it going. They usually handle it right there unless they have to do research themselves with some of the complex stuff. This usually what I end up having: complex items nobody else has. They end up having to get a Level 2 involved or someone who understands what's going on, but they get back to you no matter what. 

If you have a down system, they will stay on the line with you until your system is back up. No matter how long it takes. I once had them on the phone for six to seven hours. It was a complex situation, and they stayed on the line. This was their standard support. This is what they do. Even if it is not them, they will stay with you to try and get OpCon back up.

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

It was proprietary scheduler for our operating system. We had another job scheduler that couldn't quite handle the flexibility we needed. It wasn't as sophisticated as what we needed it to do. The frequencies and dependencies were lacking. The jobs that you could set up had to be Windows jobs, so there were a lot of things that we couldn't do. It required a lot of manual tasks. There were interruptions and interventions, so we couldn't get anything done. We didn't stay with it long, as it didn't take us that long to figure out we could not be successful without OpCon. 

The previous solution was cumbersome to work with. OpCon took us about two weeks to install and deploy.

How was the initial setup?

I wasn't quite involved with the installation piece of it. We wrote a Unix script for it.

It took us minutes to automate our first process.

It's very flexible and pretty easy to use. You can go into complex modes if you have to for complex jobs. It depends on what's needed. Most of it is very simple to use and setup. You do need a logical brain to understand what you are doing in some way as you can get lost in some of the features and options, like setting up dependencies and thresholds. If you're not aware of what's really happening, you can mess those up pretty badly. However, as long as you know what you're doing, it's pretty easy.

What about the implementation team?

We only worked with SMA who does most of the deployment. They train you. After that, you do what you need to do. If you ever get stuck, you can just call them up. They will walk you through it and help you out.

It takes one or (at most) two staff members to deploy it. 

What was our ROI?

It has freed up hours for our five operators working on 35 systems doing the monitoring. They don't have to monitor what's going on anymore. They just have to watch their jobs, then react to those.

We are not committing errors all the time, and that's huge. When you miss reports every month, customers get mad after awhile. There is a lot of stress on us from the customers knowing that every day they need to get their requests which shouldn't need follow up. That type of perfection from OpCon is less aggravation for everybody. We are not wasting our time running jobs again because it wasn't right the first time. If customers are going to leave, it won't be because of this solution. It will be because of other reasons, and that is big.

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

Cost depends on your environment. We are doing stuff now with failover and recovery, so we have boosted our costs. 

Compared to AutoSys and ISE, OpCon was a lot cheaper to put in. AutoSys is hundreds of thousands of dollars to just install it because they don't have an interface into our system. You have to teach them what your system does. 

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

It is better than some of the other systems that we have looked at. It can be as simple or as sophisticated as you want to make it. It's up to you and what you need to do with it.

We have looked AutoSys and Cisco ISE. AutoSys seems a bit more old school in the way they handle things. They are very limited and can't allow the flexibility that we need to run our company. They couldn't allow customers access. Right now, we have customers who can run their own jobs (OpCon Self Service). Therefore, our customers can run jobs that we set up for them. 

With our manual processes that we haven't got to, those are forwarded to be handled in the Self Service funnel. We can set them up and customers can get the job when they're ready. This is where we will be going next to get around the babysitting part. We are looking to implement this feature within the next year. 

Pick the right scheduling tool. If you pick the right one, your jobs are easy. If you choose the wrong one, you can get in a lot more trouble signing up your jobs. OpCon gives you more flexibility with the way that you can do things. Its only your imagination that limits you. If you can write programs or code, that's even better.

What other advice do I have?

I would recommend OpCon to almost anyone. Look at it and learn it. Compare it to the competition. It's great for multiple institutions.

They have everything you really want and would expect schedules to be able to do.

You should have some type of logical background. If you're just a plain operator, you might have trouble trying to understand the concepts. You have to remember which institution you're working with when you start setting up jobs so they aren't operating on the wrong system. So, it's just understanding what you're doing.

I would rate the solution as a 10 (out of 10). It works for us on a multi-solution data center. It gives you a lot more options and does a lot more things, as an in house system. 

Which version of this solution are you currently using?

**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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