What is our primary use case?
Right now we have large scale systems, like mainframes. It is very difficult to make changes on a mainframe. One of the more common things we are using robots for is in places where our customer service reps have to do dual entry or do entry over multiple systems. We are also trying to automate some other manual processes.
What is most valuable?
I guess the most valuable thing that we get from using robotics is part of the process of using robots. Sometimes robotic solutions are limited. You can only do so much. But there is benefit in that. For example, sometimes people want robots, but what they really need are better workflows. I think what we get out of a Pega solution is that we look hard at improving workflows as a practice. Then on top of that, we get automation through the use of robots. It just makes everything more efficient even if it is not completely automated.
What I have seen in the industry more often than not is that people just want a robot to do something for them. They think they know what they need but they might not really look at what problems they are trying to solve. In other words, they do not want to know what is going on, they just want a robot to do whatever some task is for them. I can ask them what they are trying to do, but they are sold on their idea and not understanding what other things are out there that would do a better job of solving their issues. Sometimes clients want me to do things that robots do not do. Like one person wanted a robot to scan something like a million documents. I do not have a robot to do that.
I am getting challenged by people who just want a robot and they do not want ideas. I think they might want to consider that maybe robots are not leading the solution and solving the bigger issue, but they doing other things. Robots are not the ultimate solution for everything.
What needs improvement?
My pain points with Pega Robotic come down to two big things. It is swivel chairing and dual entry. Those are the two big things that are an issue with old mainframe systems. That is what people are dealing with. It is just not doing the same thing twice.
Ease of use could probably be improved. A lot of what you do in Pega is built on Visual Studio with OpenSpan. Pega is very user-friendly and it is easy to build. But you have to know Visual Studio .net to build with it right now. If you are used to Pega, it is a different way of building because it is still essentially Visual Studio. That is the issue. No question that it can be improved. It can be improved a lot.
For how long have I used the solution?
The Pega company bought OpenSpan. OpenSpan used to be in the market as a separate company. It has technically been Pega Robotic Process Automation since 2016.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
The stability is good. We do not run into problems with crashes and such.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
Scalability is not an issue. If anything, you are going to be more limited by your own environment than by the tool. Some Pega or RPA is not going to limit how you scale.
We have one robot team at our company with about 10 members. That includes analysts, developers, and testers. Right now we are small, but we are going to try to grow it over the next one to two years.
How are customer service and technical support?
The technical support is good. They have good people. They are very available. The bigger problem is more about knowing what you have to learn, what your team has got to learn, and the questions to ask. The technical support will be right there for you.
How was the initial setup?
The initial setup is not bad at all. I would say it was medium complexity. We got up and running and we could build a robot pretty quickly. For us, what we spent more time on is deciding what we were going to build a robot for. It was more the opportunity assessment. Once people heard that we could build robots, they flooded us with requests for building all sorts of robots. When we started getting all the requests, we started having problems with how to balance what went first right from the start. Any problems had nothing to do with Pega in general.
We had to decide which request to do first and which one was more valuable. What we put in place was an opportunity assessment. If we got 15 requests, of course everybody thought that their robot was the most important to build first. It was coming up with that understanding and assessing the value of each of the robotic opportunities that became more difficult.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
I was recently looking into other robotics solutions strictly as research. We have and use Pega for our robotics now. The organization I work with wanted to know what else is available out there. Robotics is changing so quickly that it makes sense to keep up on the developments in the industry. A lot of new products are entering the market. I do not know if we will make a change in the future, but maybe something will fit our needs a little bit better later on.
What other advice do I have?
People who are considering Pega should be aware of a few things. Pega has got plenty of online training. Make sure that you take advantage of all the online training. You might even want to hire someone from Pega just to get you started. This will keep you from running into issues where you are going to struggle when using the tool. If you have a good start, then basically it is easy flying after that. Once you build something, you learn so much from building that first robot that you will have way fewer troubles building more. It might even be a good idea to hire someone on for 90 days just to get that first robot built. You learn and then you have a roadmap on how to move forward.
Additional features that I would like to see in Pega in the next release all have to do with ease of use. Pega itself is really easy to use when you get away from Visual Studio. What I am mostly looking for is a better UI for better building.
On a scale from one to ten (where one is the worst and ten is the best), I would rate Pega Robotic Process Automation as an eight-out-of-ten. The good thing about Pega is that it is very flexible. You can do a lot so the capabilities are broad. It can be tough at first to understand and start building. That is the only thing I would say is a downside. Put that aside and it has got tons of capability.