RSA Archer Review

A rich feature set helps save time and effort, making us more efficient and saving us money


What is our primary use case?

We use this solution for task management and reporting, with a focus on Risk Management services. We have this solution deployed on-premises.

How has it helped my organization?

Before we adopted this solution, everything was done in Excel. One of the main modules that we are using is the Risk Management module. We're in IT, and IT is a big domain, so if we have a lot of findings then the Excel worksheet would be passed between different people, and the data would be scrambled. Someone would later have to come back and bring all of the information together into one sheet. It was very hectic, troublesome, and time-consuming. We had a lot of things to take care of, and we needed a dedicated team just to bring the information together. We also needed expertise in terms of who can put the information together into a graphical format to make it easier for management to understand, as well as more general reporting.

Previously, we had almost zero reporting because of this hectic chaos. Now, we have all of the information right there, like a central repository. All of the risk owners have access to it. They can see their own and they can automatically fill in their actions and give us updates. With the central location, we have minimal resources required in order to prepare the review. We can export, report, create dashboards, drag and drop, etc. It has saved us a lot of effort.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the enterprise module, which provides the capability of having all of the information stored and linked with everything else. For me, that is eye-catching.

What needs improvement?

The dashboarding in this solution needs to be improved, specifically the graphics. I am trying to find other solutions because I want to create management dashboards. This product has its own built-in design capabilities and how to present things, but it doesn't have a bullet chart. The bullet chart is the best graph for my purposes, and it should be available for inclusion in the dashboards. We are doing audits and risk management, and there are timelines related to when things are due. All of that can be very easily seen in a bullet chart graph, but what is available now are pie charts, bar charts, and the simple information that is not as meaningful.

The reporting features are very basic, PowerPoint-like capabilities, that should be improved. They should be more like the features available in Power BI, or Tableau. As a workaround, I tried dumping the information from Archer into these two solutions, but it would be much better to have the functionality built-in.

When it comes to searching, the filtering process is not very intuitive. If I want to filter then I have to use too many buttons to get to what I'm trying to search for. If they can simplify the researching process then that would be good.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using this solution for five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

This solution is very, very stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

This is a very scalable solution. After we implemented this solution, two different departments saw it and were impressed with the tool and how the work could be done centrally. We spoke with the vendor and added the scope for these departments. Now, it is centralized throughout the company.

We do plan to increase our usage of this solution. Its capabilities are almost infinite, but we're probably utilizing just twenty percent of it. We know its capabilities and what it can do, but there is a shortage in the availability of resources that can actually utilize the tool. There are perhaps three or four people that can use at least forty percent of the functionality.

We've assigned a task to a few team members so that someone can get a fresh look at how we can fully utilize it. It's a heavy tool and we want to use it. The problem is that it's just not that easy because you need someone who will actually understand the logic behind it, and also has the experience with the functionality. This is not expertise in the solution, but rather, the management. For example, we need someone who can understand the entire risk management flow in order for them to be able to use the tool efficiently.

Because of the vast differences in the domains being used in Archer, each team member is using a section of it. It's not really utilized how I want it, because I'm the leader of the team and I want to use this as the main tool for the entire IT department. However, I don't have the resources who can actually spend that much time to use it.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support for this solution is very good.

We had one person as an expert that was providing level one and level two support for the solution. We had minimal occasions where we had to go to level three, which is to contact RSA directly. We did have some questions here and there, and we understood that the technical support team is very good at their job.

If you previously used a different solution, which one did you use and why did you switch?

We did not use another solution prior to choosing this one. Everything was done using Microsoft Excel.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup of this solution was very complex because of our organization. We had to manually put in the entire organization and the functional design. We had multiple teams, departments, and divisions. It is a very mature organization that has more than seven thousand employees, and there are a lot of sections. We have gone through multiple re-organizations and still haven't had the time to actually change the structure in this solution, because of how complex it is. It was complicated and still is.

Deployment took a full year with dedicated resources. Seven people were involved in the deployment, each one working on a different thing. One was doing the logic, another was doing the structure, etc. We have very different models, including Risk Management, Audit, and Enterprise, so each person was working on something.

What about the implementation team?

We hired a consultant to help us out with the deployment. After it was complete, we gave him a job and he came to work for us. Because it was so complex, we didn't have the resource in terms of someone to actually understand the tool because of how complicated it was to build it from scratch to match our organizational structure. It takes time for someone to understand the entire company, and since the integrators did that within the year, it was easier for us to bring him on board and then train people along the way.

What was our ROI?

We have seen ROI with this solution, although not directly. Before Archer, we needed people to come in to perform services for us. For example, if we needed to do risk management then we needed someone. They had to create the document, the module, and the framework, and then they come and do the assessment themselves. They are the ones that actually do the questioning, get the results, and give us the reports. That, itself, costs a lot of money because we have many services in IT.

Our on-premise expertise is aware of most of the things that are on the ground, but we just don't have the capacity to deal with all of them. So, we do it in small batches, here and there. We want people for cloud, people for risk management, people for audit, and people for compliance. Each of those different modules has a different price tag on it.

With this tool, once it was built and designed, we were able to use our own internal resources. We don't need to go outside. All of the questions are already there. The policies and procedures are already built-in, and you just need to tweak them a bit. So, it helps us just in understanding what's there, on the ground, and then we can mark our territory from there. Overall, it saves us a lot of money to be spent if we are taking care of these services individually.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We did evaluate other products back when I was in the metrics team. I was also looking into other tools just recently because we need the contract for the extension of the maintenance for another five years. So far, Archer has been the best. It stands out among the other tools that are coming into the market, and there is no comparison.

What really separates RSA Archer from the other solutions is the depth and richness of the different features and functionality that it has.

I've seen other tools that are very intuitive, easy to deploy, and easy to understand, but not as rich in functionality as RSA. This is the solution that I want to make the best use of, but I'm not prepared to do that because of the dashboarding. In three years, we will re-visit the evaluation process.

What other advice do I have?

My advice for anybody considering this solution is that if you are a mature organization then this is the best tool to use. It has cross-disciplinary functionalities in which multiple teams can be using the same solution. Companies who are not yet mature, but want to develop, can use this tool as a baseline that will help them mature.

It has the entire process. It will help you streamline what you want, have visibility of what you need, and you can build up. Basically, it's a central repository for everything. We have enterprise architects who are interested in this solution because of the Enterprise module, and it's capabilities. Having all of the information connected, within itself, is the best value that you can have.

I, myself, wanted to become an expert and certified in using this tool. The only thing that stopped me was the lack of bullet chart capabilities in reporting. It's what is holding me back.

Without the support for bullet charts, the visibility that we need is lacking. For example, if there is a textual date like the 25th of April 2020, for us there is no visible representation of the date. A bullet chart will tell you how far it is, how far we have come already, and what the target is to get there. This is an amazing tool, but without that graphical representation, it just puts that aside. This is why I'm trying to find another tool that will compensate for that.

I would rate the closest runner-up to this solution a six out of ten, with all of the other solutions somewhere below that.

When it comes to this solution, I would rate it an eight out of ten.

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