What is our primary use case?
At Forest Service, we have a massive onboarding season. Because our primary mission is to combat forest fires, we have a huge intake of firefighters that we hire every season. Because of that, there's a lot of onboarding material that needs to be processed through HR, literally tens of thousands of people in such a short amount of time. I can see, potentially, RPA being able to help with some of the manual work that we do.
It's probably the best bang for our buck, but there are certainly other use cases potentially. That is the area that I'm more familiar with, though.
How has it helped my organization?
UiPath can batch process a lot of the hands-on manual work that nobody wants to do. I think that's probably its best value. That said, it does kind of highlight the need for standardized processes, which can be challenging at times, specifically in our space. Just having formalized documentation about what the end-to-end process should be is key. Once that's standardized, then it's a lot easier to leverage UiPath for automation.
What is most valuable?
Having looked at other RPA software, I think UiPath is the most user-friendly. At the same time, it's robust enough to customize and get into the source code. It's accessible, but also has enough features for more hands-on developers to be able to do what they need to do. From the two that I've seen, it was the more user-friendly one.
I have used UiPath's Academy for some of the foundational level training, not the more advanced ones. I think I had some feedback at the time. It's been a few months since I've taken it. Overall it was pretty good.
What needs improvement?
I feel like it's pretty good as it is. One thing I would change is when you're nesting certain workflows, it can get a little complicated as you start getting deeper. For example, if you have multiple blocks that need to live inside each other, and you're using a library to drag stuff or just insert it, it can be very challenging from a visual level to see what level it's in or how deeply nested it is. It's hard to roll it up into a parent level display. So, that's a little confusing sometimes. I guess, if there's any way to improve that, I think that would be helpful.
I think UiPath uses VBScript. If there were some kind of library of common things that developers could use, that would be helpful, but it's not a big deal. You can just Google that stuff. Making something like that accessible would be nice, but I don't think it's crucial.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
The big question on my end is just how to scale and keep things stabilized. This is such a new technology for us, that there's a lot of questions around it. I think, being able to answer that would be helpful. I don't really know the answer.
How are customer service and technical support?
I don't know about technical support. We were talking to a developer that was helping us at the time just to walk us through. Our experience with the developer was good. They have a very knowledgeable staff. They're very eager to help us figure stuff out. All in all, it was a positive experience.
How was the initial setup?
The setup, at least from the local side, makes sense. This could be just more of my experience since my expertise in UiPath is not as high as it could be. I'm not super familiar with how Orchestrator is deployed and managed, in terms of multiple bots and scheduling, but that's probably a limitation more on my end then with UiPath.
What about the implementation team?
We are currently in the research stage. It's more like proof of concept work. Right now, it's really about convincing people that this is a technology to look at and pay attention to. We are trying to convince the people with the authority that this is a good way to invest.
I have local test environments that I've used personally. At Forest Service, they're very visually oriented. If you talk to them about it, they won't get it. They need to see it to believe it. So, I've been trying to do that locally in my own environment. I have been building use cases that I think are parallel to what we're trying to do, to demonstrate the value.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
We looked at a couple of alternatives. Automation Anywhere was one of them. I haven't looked at the other ones, since we chose UiPath pretty early on, having heard about them previously. We also considered some others like Pega and a few others.
What other advice do I have?
Automation technology is non-existent in our company currently, but definitely something that should be leveraged for. I think there's a lot of value in being able to free up people from doing small repetitive tasks and just be more strategic focused. The challenge, really, is just convincing people that they're not going to lose their jobs. We need to show them that we're freeing up their time to be more valuable. The challenge is just educating people about what it actually is.
I would rate this solution as eight out of ten. I think it's going a lot of places. It's definitely more advanced than some of the other ones that I've seen. UiPath is probably the best one that we've seen so far.
My advice is to make sure you have your processes documented before you try to fix something that can't be fixed through robotic process automation. At a fundamental level, your organization needs to be ready for it. It's not a magic bullet to fix stuff that's confusing at your organization level. But, if you have it straight and documented and you're doing high volume amounts of it then you should use this to free up people's time and make them do better work. I think it would be useful.
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