What is our primary use case?
Primary use cases would be within the finance sector. We supply financial services for other government agencies. The main robots that we have in use right now are concerning floating of financial periods, uploading reports, commenting on these reports, and so on. We are starting to look at invoice processing, to a larger degree. Then, we have a few quality and control robots which do checks on data quality, customer information, customer carts, etc.
We are using approximately 20 robots right now for different uses.
We've opted for professional, traditional developers and programmers to do batch robots. We don't use it in our business units. Possibly because we are a government agency, we don't necessarily get enough IT security around the users applying their own robots.
It is not easy to use in this way because we do use traditional programming skills. We are considering moving some tasks out into the workforce for Attended Robots, etc. We think that this will be a problem for us in regards to getting it pushed out there and still maintaining good quality. However, we haven't tried it yet.
How has it helped my organization?
We are able to smooth out peak workloads. Because a lot of the period closures, like monthly and yearly closures, we work in peaks. Everything has to be done within a few days. When we can prepare a lot of the data and reports through the night, the employees can start on those in the morning. Therefore, we are leveling out some of the workload features, which is one of the main benefits.
Automation technology for us is mainly a way to get around the long-term IT projects. This is the future for us, when using UiPath, to start moving into the AI part of it. In addition, the bundling of the offerings into UiPath is quite important, so we don't have to go to several different vendors. We can try it out on our own and see if this is something we want to do. Then, we might bring in another partner or vendor to do some specialized training, debug the networks, etc. We're never going to get that capability ourselves. We don't have a large IT department nor do we have data scientists. For us, it's important that one or more of these skills are getting baked into the system.
What is most valuable?
The ability to integrate between legacy systems is the most valuable feature. We use it mainly to replicate manual processes, where you just have to pull out data or pull down large volumes of customer information, in general. We work across many individual customers, who are individual entities or individual databases in our ERP system. We work across about 220 databases. Therefore, the task of logging onto different databases alone is quite cumbersome.
The main thing is to make data available to the employees when they start working mornings, instead of them starting drawing out reports to see if there is anything that they need to act upon. With these legacy systems, which work on a one-to-one basis, we tried to batch process them a lot more.
What needs improvement?
We have looked at it with Citrix, and there are problems with it. Some of the new features coming will address it.
We have been looking at Attended Robots, which result in the inability to lock your screen. That is simply a no-go for ever using them in most government agencies, as IT security will prohibit us from using them. If UiPath wants Attended Robots to be used inside a government agency, it needs to be applicable on a virtual desktop.
A lot of what is coming is what we are looking towards: Both on the skill set with computer vision, but especially also on the enhanced identity management and security. The ability to debug and lock at a less complex level for us to look at.
For how long have I used the solution?
One to three years.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
UiPath's stability is quite good. We don't see any problems with the stability of the platform application. All our problems stem from the basic systems that we operate on, which are quite vulnerable to network problems, time outs in various systems, etc. However, these have nothing to do with UiPath. Perhaps some of the things which are on the road map will help with the debugging of some of these issues.
One of the things that we are lacking right now is not stability, but usability with debugging, e.g., when you can't see what went wrong. We have to look through 50,000 pages of logs or so.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
The scalability is quite good.
The main problem around scalability is the licensing structure and the inability to dynamically assign licenses across robots. While I know this is coming, this is our main gripe with scalability: the licensing structure. Because we are part of a larger setup with our own IT supplier, who does a multitenancy setup with Orchestrator, to have more flexibility with the use of licenses would be very valuable.
We are using virtual desktops to deploy and run the machines with robots. It is necessary, as we cannot scale it on individual on-premise machines.
How are customer service and technical support?
We have used the customer support. Our main issue with them is they need to understand the problem that we are writing about, and not reply too soon with a standard answer.
All our developers are using UiPath Academy and are RPA certified. While they like some thing, some of the frameworks which were used in the Academy examples, the developers didn't agree with. This is probably because they are IT professionals themselves and are used to doing things a different way. Whether it's because the use case wasn't good or they were just used to something else, this was the main gripe.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
The product has a lot of backing from our director, who has been pushing the agenda. To be able to stay relevant, even as a government agency, we have to reduce our costs every year by two percent. To be able to produce that, we need to be more efficient at what we do. The target is: Not to reduce staff, but keep up with the increased demand for production and costs.
How was the initial setup?
I wasn't part of the very first setup.
What about the implementation team?
We mostly did the deployment ourselves or with our own IT partner, who is not a partner of UiPath. So, it has mainly been done by our own IT people.
What was our ROI?
On the individual robots, we do have good return on investment. However, once you add in the governance, including when we are scaling up the solution and the maintenance of robots, then I don't think we are at a break-even point. This upcoming year, we are expecting positive ROI. For us, the return on investment is high quality data.
It has helped us to eliminate human errors. We have a robot that is specifically requested to avoid, for example, uploading reports on the wrong customers because of GDPR cases, where data protection officers will have to get involved, even though, it's not sensitive data. We have seen problematic use cases drop from a couple of incidents from maybe 100 transactions to zero. We are looking to completely eliminate errors in some cases, not just reduce.
It has saved our organization time. We use the robots to try to address some of the peak workloads that we have. They are not there so much to address a certain number of hours that we want to save. We want to be able to use the robots to help address our customers' needs during designated time frames to reduce extra stress on our employees.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
We would like to see improvement around the licensing and multitenancy.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
We also evaluated Blue Prism and Kofax Kapow. The reason that we went with UiPath has a lot to do with scalability, as our IT supplier has committed to a multitenancy set up, which was not possible with Blue Prism.
We are quite happy with UiPath. We are not looking at other vendors at the moment. They are all offering similar solutions, but with a slightly different focus. We could use any other solution, but the development is so fast that even changing now would be no guarantee that we end up with what we want, because everybody is moving at a pace where we can barely keep up with the development of the products.
What other advice do I have?
Try out different vendors and their labs. See how it fits to the processes that you are trying to automate right now. Some applications are better at old mainframe systems, and if that's what you will be focusing your efforts on, then maybe UiPath isn't the best vendor for you. There are others who focus more on that sort of environment. So, be realistic about what you want to automate, and choose your use case initially from that.
We see the biggest benefit right now from Unattended Robots, but that's all we use. In the very long-term, Unattended versus Attended Robots will be able to generate a greater benefit. However, with the current licensing costs, they will need to change for it to be a positive business model. We have to be able to move licenses from one person to another. If we have to apply a fresh license to each person in the workforce, with our budget, it will not be possible.
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.