What is our primary use case?
We use UiPath to automate business processes such as certain types of reporting that have to be repeated on a month-to-month basis. Another example is invoicing processes, which can be automated. Generally, it applies to different business cases for enterprise automation.
How has it helped my organization?
An example of how UiPath has improved the organization stems from a cyberattack in 2018. We already had an RPA team and during that cyber attack, all of our systems went down. Our SAP provider cut our access to it, leaving us with a limited number of users. It was not a big enough team to deliver on to our clients all of the orders that were being received.
What we did with UiPath in that crisis scenario in a couple of weeks was that we created a process for order automation. We already had a proof of concept, and we were able to scale it quickly. It was not perfect but rather, done in an emergency situation.
With that couple of users and limited access to SAP, a couple of robot users were capable of working 24 hours, seven days a week, and we started to process all of the orders that were coming from the rest of the company. This is probably something that you could not have done with more classical solutions.
This was, of course, an emergency order automation and it was a topic that we were already working with. Prior to this, it was already a benefit for the company, but the fact that we had this flexibility showcases how powerful this tool is, or what its potential is.
What is most valuable?
Having the cloud-based version allows us to be at the latest version of UiPath Orchestrator and different products without having to take care of the upgrade process.
UiPath's portal for enabling business users to trigger and monitor jobs is a big deal for me because it's something that we have been trying to do for a long time. We have been asking for it. With the previous solution, which was the orchestration platform alone, it was not a good approach because the business users would have a lot of information on their hands and you have to either split your licenses so that they could not access everything, or create your own web portals for them to access specific parts.
The fact that they now have an intermediate portal where they see only their processes, which they can monitor for themselves without getting too much information that is not relevant for them, is a big deal. Something as simple as triggering your own process, which in the past would require dedicating a full license to, can now be done through the portal. It might be a task like checking emails for customers or creating your own application with their API. It's a huge increment in quality.
The portal can also be used for administrators and although we have the Action Center, we don't use it that often. From the point of view of administrators, I can say that the recent improvements make our life much easier. It also enables us to think of more complex setups. In the past, I would never allow certain configurations because they would either be a security risk or it would just create more problems than solutions. Now with the current interface, especially with what they will be adding in the future in terms of more governance from the platform, they just enable you to do more complex things. It allows you to go a little bit beyond what the normal scope would be.
That applies to the platform as well as the orchestrator in the new modern setup. They have the option to split within the same tenant and different companies, or different company departments. Also, the fact that you can dynamically allocate the licenses so that you don't have to worry or have to split them, brings us to another level.
It offers more granular and role-based access control and management. We now have more complex scenarios that in the past we would not even consider because it would be a problem if someone were able to see something that they should not see.
The fact that this is a SaaS solution is important to us and it is clear to me that they want to push a SaaS solution, more than the on-premises deployment. It means that we have the latest version without having to upgrade the systems. We always have the latest version of the studio, for example, and there's no disruption to our services. Furthermore, we are able to follow all of the previews that they come out with. We can try all of their new products, which is something that in the past, we would not have been able to do. It would have required, for example, upgrading our system twice a year. Certainly, we wouldn't be able to do it at the speed we can now.
Being able to minimize our on-premises deployment is really important. It was almost a given for us because we lost some of our interfaces during the cyberattack. From that point on, the company has had a clear policy of cloud and SaaS as a priority. The fact that we have the opportunity to access all of our services without any requirements from our side suits us very well.
The vendor continues to add services to the portal and we are connected through their insider program. This is something that we are really happy with.
It is helpful for us that new services being added to the portal are all managed from the same place because it simplifies our work, makes it cohesive, and makes sense from a philosophical point of view. Definitely, if they had it on different platforms, it would take away from the ease of management. The fact that they have it in a single place makes everything a little bit more interconnected. What they are doing seems to make sense and for me, it is good because we only have to take care of one single platform. This also speeds up our processes, which is a plus.
On the topic of security, especially coming from a cyber attack, having SOC 2 certification is important because it is a requirement for us. We probably would have tried to find an intermediate or an agreement, but the fact that UiPath is now SOC 2 certified means that we have complied with requirements.
What needs improvement?
The licensing system is something that needs to be improved. I think that if they are trying to push for a SaaS solution, with respect to the way they license their individual products. The robot licenses and the Studio licenses should be something closer to a pay-per-use, rather than a year-to-year license. Right now, the licensing model and the pricing are the only stoppers for us, in terms of escalating our use. The bottom line is that the licensing system is not as modern as the tool that we're trying to implement.
For how long have I used the solution?
We have been using the UiPath Automation Cloud since January 2020, and prior to that, we had an on-premises solution from UiPath.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
Four to six months ago, this was not the most stable solution. We had a lot of issues, especially during the summer and early autumn. The system would fail, or would not be accessible, or we had lost some of our logs.
Right now, the tool is working and is much more stable. It shows that they have put an effort into making it more robust.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
With respect to scalability, the licensing system is the limitation.
The platform itself is scalable, although not infinitely, but to a couple of orders of magnitude of what we have now. However, you still have to go through the procurement processes, which always makes it a little bit more limiting. Ultimately, it means that we cannot utilize the full power of what this tool offers in escalation.
Currently, we have five people who are working on UiPath. There are three developers, I am the technical lead, and we have a manager that operates as a product owner for the projects. The three developers are also responsible for maintenance. We also have a business analyst who works through the documentation and is the point of contact for some of our business.
We have other non-official roles, who are people that know and use the tool or perform business analyst functions, but there are only five people in dedicated roles.
At this point, we are using the tool to the full extent of what our licenses allow us to do. We could scale it to be much bigger but in the current situation, I don't think that we will do so. We negotiated the last contract to be a five-year deal and I hope we can move beyond that, but for now, there's no plan to a scale.
How are customer service and technical support?
We have mixed reviews for the technical support and depending on the topic, they will answer faster or slower, more personalized or not.
They have a ticketing system and the webpage is normally broken, depending on the browser. The response time may vary from topic to topic, so I don't have a consistent impression of the support system. They do answer our questions, but it is not always within the proper time or with the solution that we were hoping for.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
What we are using now is the same thing as the previous product from UiPath, without the cost of having to host it yourself.
I have some experience with other products, but not at the professional level. My impression is that with UiPath, you can get started more quickly when compared to other RPA products. Also, the licensing costs are not as high.
How was the initial setup?
Migrating from our on-premises solution to the cloud was not a typical case because we lost our on-premises deployment during the cyberattack. We had at least a few months without the Orchestration solution. When it comes to execution runtimes, where we run our processes, we used the same machines.
Basically, we had to set things up from scratch on the cloud. The process was pretty straightforward, and the fact that we didn't have to set up the Orchestration tool saved us from a lot of the complexity in the setup process. Normally, this is the complex part, including setting it up with the databases. We just had to connect our runtime with the Orchestration platform, which made it much easier.
With respect to the setup costs, the cloud setup balanced out because you don't pay for the orchestration platform, but you pay a little more for the individual licenses.
What about the implementation team?
Having this product has reduced the amount of maintenance work related to our automation operations because it is a managed solution. The fact that we don't have to host it ourselves is very important.
With respect to maintenance costs, we are a relatively small project, so I wouldn't say that we had a huge overhead. It would certainly be higher if we tried to do what we are doing now, which is being at the latest version all of the time. To do that, we would have needed somebody in a role who was taking care of it. As it is now, from a development or project management point of view, we can take care of these things without needing an architect involved all of the time.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
We chose Automation Cloud because it was, at that point, the most flexible option.
What other advice do I have?
UiPath is known for a certain number of products, and the role of our team is to use all of them. On the topic of the UiPath Cloud, the new products that they have come out with, like the possibility to create your own applications for your internal customers, or host certain data services from the same platform, were things that were not available in the past. These capabilities are useful. In general, all of their products are pretty important for us.
For UiPath as a company, we like the availability that they have and the fact that we can try and test all of their products beforehand, without paying. For a relatively small project such as ours, or even for a big company, it's pretty useful to be able to access this type of information and not be burdened with extra budget requirements.
This is a product that I recommend because the starting point is completely free. That's one of the great points of UiPath. My advice is that when it comes to scaling the project, it's really important to clearly set up goals and expectations. Otherwise, there will be an eternal loop of PoCs and non-viable products.
I would rate this solution an eight out of ten.
Which deployment model are you using for this solution?