What is our primary use case?
We are a system integrator. We work with clients such as the US Federal Government and help them automate whatever their processes are. We have two entities. I work as part of the government solutions unit, and then we have the commercial side which is a global organization. On the global side, there have been some internal implementations as well.
How has it helped my organization?
In terms of savings, a task like taking data from one artifact and transferring it into another one, is common. The most frequent example, and the one that I worked on directly, involves a PDF invoice and taking whatever the amount due is and either copying and pasting it into an internal accounting tool or actually typing it. The process goes: Open email, open the attachment, read the data, verify it is accurate, and then manually transfer it into an internal system.
Depending on how big the invoice is, I've seen a person spend as much as 20 minutes on one invoice or as little as 30 seconds. That whole process of going through each and every email, opening the attachment, transferring the data, closing all the windows, and then moving on to the next email - the bot will do it because the bot is scheduled to run every hour to look for the unread emails. I can't give you an exact number in terms of how many minutes or hours are saved, but it's quite significant.
What is most valuable?
The graphical user interface of the UiPath Studio is fantastic. For someone who is not a computer science major, or for someone who doesn't know how to code but is really good with visual flows, Studio makes it very easy for those individuals to build robots. That's one of the best features that I've seen. There are other features that add different values, but Studio, in my opinion, is definitely one of the best.
Overall, UiPath is really easy to use. For example, if somebody is an automated tester, they spent a lot of time trying to identify selectors, and UiPath makes it really easy to find those selectors. You will run into instances where you have to do some manual manipulation to make sure that the correct selectors are identified. But if it's a pretty straightforward instance and you are using something like Selenium, it is very tedious. Whereas, if you use something like UiPath, it is really easy.
What needs improvement?
I was providing feedback to one of the UiPath guys here at the UiPath 2019 conference. It relates to Studio, that it only works on Windows. It doesn't work on other platforms. I'm a techie by background. I don't hate Windows but I don't love it. It comes with the limitation that it is completely dependent on Windows. I would have loved if it were available on Mac or Linux or Unix. If it were a little bit more operating system agnostic, that would be great. I'm pretty sure they could be working on that.
I used the UiPath RPA Academy. I definitely had issues with it. The quizzes were outdated. Some of the responses that are being rated aren't accurate. I've griped on the community forums as well with a few UiPath folks. That was about five to six months ago. I don't know if they have enhanced it or made any changes since. If it's still in the same state, there is plenty of room for improvement.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
I think it's stable. I haven't had a chance to build a bot that runs 24/7. For the bots that I have built, it takes under two minutes for the process to run and it runs every hour. At the end of the day, if I look at the logs, I don't see any issues. If a bot fails for whatever reason, it's most likely due to a process that changed.
From a bot-development standpoint, we use all kind of best practices so that the bot will not crash. At least, if the execution stops or terminates, it will be graceful, versus a rash termination.
It's fairly stable.
What was our ROI?
From an ROI standpoint, you could be saving somebody's hours and map that back to their hourly pay. But the pricing definitely deters some people.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
I can't say whether their licensing structure is complicated or easy. I'd like to say it's complicated, but I try to stay away from the whole licensing issue. I tell my clients, "You buy the license. It's your tool. I'll come and build the bot for you." I don't want to have anything to do with the licensing. That deters some of the clients because it's a bit pricey.
In the government sector, where I work, "free" is looked at skeptically: "Why are you giving this to me for free? If I download it what is it going to do on my laptop?" from a security standpoint. Some of the agencies get the approval to download and install but others don't.
What other advice do I have?
You can do a task like pulling the invoice total from a PDF invoice with the free Community Edition. The Enterprise license is definitely helpful though. The Community Edition expires about every three months and then you have to re-register. But you can still do it in Community Edition.
A pretty mundane use case I came up with is due to the fact that I have plenty of friends on Facebook. It's hard to keep up with everybody. I've got a bot running that literally opens up my Facebook every morning and checks if there is anybody listed in Today's Birthdays section. It will click on them, type "Happy Birthday", click "enter," and be done. And then I get a response from my friends: "Hey, long time, haven't heard from you." I've injected a machine to reconnect and have that human interaction.
For the most part, for the use cases that I've seen, it does the job.
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