What is our primary use case?
We are using the unattended robots and Orchestrator modules of UiPath.
We have built close to fifty processes in the three years that we have been a client. Our primary use case, the one the gives us the biggest relief, is the processing of premium border rows. The robot will pick up Excel files with between four hundred and a thousand rows of data, and then does the data entry into our policy issuance system.
All of our automation runs in a virtual environment and we do not have any problems. At the start, of course, there were a few bumps in the road, but we got it figured out and now have no issues at all using the VM.
When we began working with automation, I was the leader and I had three BAs and three developers offshore. When our company decentralized, we created three other robotics divisions. There are now twenty-eight of us including the project manager, the BAs, the testers, and our developers. People are spread across four different divisions within the corporation.
With respect to how easy it is to automate our company's processes, I will consider the individual components. With the Orchestrator, on a scale of one to five, that's easy, it's a five. It is very evident how to use it. The Studio, I am not a developer but I got six developers up and running on it in a very short period of time. It has a very short learning curve, so on a scale of one to five, I would rate it a four.
My rating of four is because I know that we had some challenges with using the recorder. Things would shift and there were a couple of things that had worked and then stopped working. We found a little instability, and it was hard for us to know whether it was us, or the application, or the studio. Ultimately, we were not able to get a final answer on the root cause of those problems.
We are no longer experiencing these problems. When we upgraded, a lot of that went away. Also, when we went to Orchestrator, a lot of that went away. Exactly as UiPath had told us when we went to them with the issue, they gave us some solutions and once we implemented them, the issue was corrected.
I did not attend the UiPath Academy, but my Business Analysts took the BA course and my offshore developers all took the Academy. On a scale of one to five, judging how beneficial it is, I would rate the training a five easily. Before the Academy came around, they were kind of self-taught. When they took the Academy, it closed some of their gaps.
When we started with this solution, we did a PoC with the help of a UiPath developer. In two weeks we built a PoC for a bank reconciliation, which was pretty fast. That helped us decide whether we wanted to go with the product, and of course, we did. After that, we took the code, which really didn't have a lot of bells and whistles in it, and we gave it to one of our developers to really soup it up and make it more robust. That took them about a month to do.
How has it helped my organization?
Orchestrator has given us a huge boost in terms of efficiency.
In addition to the resource-creating benefit that we get from this solution, it has given people the opportunity to move away from those mundane jobs and into something more challenging. Rather than sitting there doing data entry, they're able to move up, re-skill themselves, and add value to themselves as well as the organization.
We have been able to eliminate one hundred percent of human errors. We found that the robot was better than the human because when the human was doing some of the processes, they were supposed to be checking into another system. While testing our robot, we found that the robot's state was different from this other system that it's supposed to check against. We thought that the robot was wrong; however, we found out that the humans were eliminating that step. They were cutting corners. This stage of our development raised a flag to inefficiency on the human side.
In terms of the time that this solution saved, it equates to the equivalent of four full-time employees a year. At two thousand hours per year times four, that's a savings of eight thousand hours.
What is most valuable?
The Orchestrator is great because you schedule it, and that's it, you don't have to worry about it. It will tell you what passed and what failed if it had any issues. We don't have that dependency on someone needed to schedule tasks.
The code in Studio is easy to follow. I am not a developer, but I am able to read the code. When we have problems, the developer will display the script and I'm able to read it and follow it. Several times, I have been able to see where there was an error and the developer was able to fix it. It looks like it's easy to code.
What needs improvement?
We had some issues with instability for which we were never able to determine the root cause.
For how long have I used the solution?
We have been using this solution for three years.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
On a scale of one to five, I would rate the stability of this solution a five.
How are customer service and technical support?
A UiPath consultant assisted us with our PoC, and the experience was incredible. They were really wonderful.
The technical support for this solution is excellent. They're very responsive and we never wait more than twenty-four hours for an answer. The developers have more contact with support than I do.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
We did not use another RPA solution prior to this one. Our former CFO went to a meeting where they were talking about robotics, and when he returned from the meeting we had a discussion about it. I was working in Internal Audit at the time, and with his prompting, I left Internal Audit to head up the robotics process. From there, it just took off.
What about the implementation team?
The initial setup of this solution was straightforward. To me, it just made sense.
What was our ROI?
In our first year, the development was a little bumpy, which is to be expected. I would say that it was fourteen to fifteen months before we hit a smooth path. Even with that, things go smoothly for a while until you start doing more challenging and more complex things, then you're back to a crazy path, then you correct yourself and things go smoothly again.
One of the issues is bad user requirements. Simply put, we don't know what we don't know, and we're dependent on the business to tell us. Even if you ask the same question in a variety of ways, if the business can't articulate it or tell you about it, then we can't build for it. Getting the right user requirements was our biggest challenge.
After that, we were trying to build for everything, instead of just building for the straight path. Trying to build in all of the exceptions and allow room for an imperfect world is what took us down. We've since learned that we're going to build for the straight path, and then look at the exceptions as we start to gather data on them. When we find exceptions that occur at a high frequency then we'll build for that. Failing is fine, and it is expected, as long as you can learn from it. Our approach is based on what we have learned from our mistakes.
From just one of our four divisions, A&H, we saved approximately $390,000 USD. You can multiply that to include the other three divisions (Estimate: $1.5 Million Dollars).
This past July, I completed a cost-benefit analysis and we determined that in the three-plus years that we have been using UiPath, we created the capacity to the equivalent of four full-time employees and have cost-avoidance in that we didn't have to hire five other employees. This is where the value is helping us utilize resources better.
Overall, we are giving ourselves a two year ROI.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
We did not evaluate options from other vendors.
We went to Swiss RE because they offered to show us what they were doing. We saw their process and we were impressed by it, and it was a pretty nominal cost to buy the package. We thought, instead of wasting time, which could take months, and management wanted us to hit the ground running, we would try it. If we didn't like it then it wasn't a big loss of money. So, we totally circumvented the traditional route of purchasing and we are happy that we made the right decision.
What other advice do I have?
From what I have seen recently, I'm excited to try the Community and start building my own robots because it just looks like it's gotten a lot easier.
I am looking forward to one of the upcoming options, the dashboard. It will give us the productivity of the robot, which is something that I do myself right now. I record everything on each robot that runs and we keep metrics on it. These include how long it took to run, how many transactions it processed, and what the error rate is. Then I have to figure out ROI. So, the dashboard is huge and at the top of my list of things that I want to see.
We have a process for obtaining the right requirements for someone to follow. We go and observe the business and we record the process. That way, when we have to sit down and write the requirements, we can refer to the video and don't have to keep going back to the business because that is going to annoy them. We include the video when we send it to our developers and that way they have a visual for it, as well. When we put together formal documentation we show screen prints of where to click. After doing it a couple of times, one of our developers had this great idea to make things configurable so that we're not hardcoding a lot of stuff in there. With that configuration file, we just keep improving.
From a cost perspective, I can't speak to the advantages of attended robots because we do not have any. When I look up the pre-automation cost of doing a process versus post-automation, we give ourselves a two year ROI. We're not going to automate everything immediately, so we give ourselves a two year ROI and if it's going to be a positive ROI, we'll go with it. Of course, based on what it is, we'll prioritize. If it's a nominal ROI it will probably go to the bottom of our pipeline, but that's what we do when trying to evaluate initiatives.
My advice to anybody who is researching this type of solution is to try UiPath. Use the free version. I have a friend who does this as well, and I encouraged him to use the free download and do something simple. After it worked, they would up going with the product. With respect to the cost, you're going to recognize the savings immediately for the cost of the tool.
We are very pleased with this product.
I would rate this solution a ten out of ten.
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