What is our primary use case?
We use UiPath primarily to drive efficiency within the company and introduce a new technology, which is only going to become more popular and more prevalent in the industry in the next few years.
At the moment, we use Orchestrator, Studio, and unattended robots.
We invested in an RPA solution because competitors were doing it. They do it because it's the next wave of this industry, the fourth industrial revolution. Everyone's saying that you can't escape it. It's also because our company, in the shared services department, is thinking about how to challenge our existing models. Traditionally, you chose whether to take the processes onboard or streamline them offshore, but robotics and automation are a competitive alternative to outsourcing. It's very easy. We are challenging the status quo and making sure we're evaluating all our options effectively.
How has it helped my organization?
We had a process that was very manual and repetitive and took a team of 14 people, all keying in manually. Now, we've managed to automate it and save 14 employees worth of effort, which amounts to around 14,000 hours to date.
We run our automations in a virtual environment as well. We do Citrix environments when we're working with our offshore partner. We do it on Citrix when working locally. Both work well. I know UiPath has developed a lot on the Citrix platform lately, so it's getting better and easier to do.
Within my immediate team, I have eight people and we can also involve the other operational teams. Including everyone who's related to automation across IT and ops and us, you're probably looking about 20 or 30 people.
What is most valuable?
The main value within Orchestrator is definitely the scheduling aspect. That includes the way you can prioritize work and use queuing systems to make sure they're at the right points in time, as well as whether they'd be long term related, especially if we're looking at finance.
In terms of Studio, it's just getting easier to use. Studio X is basically the embodiment of that. Even at this point in time with the current Studio version, anyone could pick this up and run with it to develop simpler automations.
The best feature about unattended robots is that they do exactly what you ask them to do. They are as reliable as the code that you provide them with. I think as long as you've got the right governance in place, such as IDs you have created, and you looped in the right teams, the robots are just the shell that will do exactly what you ask them to do.
What needs improvement?
I'd rate the ease of use of automating our processes at three and a half out of five at this point in time. That is because we've been on a journey over the past year or so and it's not been smooth sailing. There have been issues. I'm not saying that UiPath's support hasn't been great. It has been, but there is still a lot of work to do. It's still a relatively new product in terms of the grander scene of the industry. There's still a lot of work to do there to make sure that the integrations with existing software providers as well as new ones and API connectivities are as they should be. Often, you'll find yourselves using the workarounds in order to address issues that they haven't quite solved yet. I know that's constantly being improved, but that is the journey that we've been on.
One of the issues is with the acquisition of new types of software and new companies. It's important to introduce process documentation and make sure that it's not just making it look like UiPath products, but making it feel and act like one to us. They need to make sure it's embedded and the integration is seamless. They should just keep improving how easy it is to use. I think it's very good already, but there's always room for improvement.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
I would rate the product's stability as three and a half, based on our experience. This relates directly back to where we've had challenges. Some of the integration with more mainstream products, like Excel, for example, has been questionable at times. It's just striking that balance between the fact that we want it to be democratized and easy to use by everyone, while we don't want to be in a position where we're forced out of the route to use macros necessarily within Excel. We want the UiPath software to be just as quick and easy to use as that more technical solution. Otherwise, we lose the benefit of having it. It shouldn't be technically inhibited.
How are customer service and technical support?
I think their support offerings are good. They're very responsive. I think the challenge that they face though, is that they don't always have the answer. They don't always know what the real root cause is. Unfortunately, that's where the real crap piece comes in, which is both a blessing and a curse. It gives me some way of getting around it but it doesn't give me confidence that the issue will be addressed.
How was the initial setup?
It probably took us about nine months to deploy, from the initial UiPath license to implementing the first robot in production. The reason for that is the learning curve of the team as well as the education across the operational teams to bring them up to speed and make sure that everyone's on the same journey. We were also working very closely with IT to make sure that we've got the right infrastructure in place, as well as support models, governance frameworks, etc. Without it, you can't really get anything done. It's a new technology and it was a new concept for everyone. Needing a robot ID, for example, was something that was never discussed before. Lengthy conversations had to be had to make sure that we weren't putting anything at risk with data privacy, for example.
The setup was both straightforward and complex, really. Some bits we're quite straightforward, but other parts were more complex. Especially the infrastructure we're still dealing with now one year on still has some complexities. We're still thinking about credential management versus the use of virtual machines and whether we should be using high density or not. There is also the matter of all the different types of offerings. There's a matrix that you have to abide by and I don't think UiPath is even aware of all the conflicts between the different options. That's something that we're still working through right now, but I'm sure they're going to address it.
What about the implementation team?
We outsourced the implementation.
What was our ROI?
The performance benefits usually you would see instantly. We had a realization that there were some process changes that we probably needed to make, which we hadn't done prior to going live. I think it took us probably three months before we really saw the benefit coming through.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
It's the same as what you would see on any of their list prices. There is also a corporate discount because of scale. Overall, we think it was a competitive price offering. They were the cheapest out of the three, so that's why we went with them.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
We looked across the big three: Blue Prism, Automation Anywhere, and UiPath. We did have a few others we considered, such as Kofax and Pegasystems. However, they're not dedicated RPA tools. That narrows you down immediately to probably select one of the top three dedicated RPA providers.
UiPath is a very unique example of being very technology-based from its history, but also its culture is very different to the other two. They're trying to be humble. UiPath has a different background and cultural fit, which is very much like our company. That was definitely one of the reasons we chose them. The other reason was the views. We just find it easier to use. The strategy, especially at the point in time when it was announced where the product was headed, was very much that they're trying to push this out to a robot for every person. We want everyone to be able to access it, too.
What other advice do I have?
Do what you would normally do with any vendor. Check out the competition and see what is right for your company. I'll be shocked if you don't think that UiPath is the best because there's a reason why it's at the top of the Gartner reports all over the shop. It's got great user feedback on places like IT Central Station and other review boards. There is absolutely a reason for that. Also, assess the other values that you place importance on. It's not all about costs. Cultural fit was a massive deal for us. What would you envision your company looking like with the uptake of automation? Is it a cultural thing? Is it purely about efficiency or do you want everyone to be up-skilled for what the workforce in the future will look like? That means that actually having everyone being able to access the tools is very important.
I would rate UiPath as eight out of ten.
I have used the UiPath Academy RPA training, although not completed it. I am a bit busy doing a few of the bits, but a lot of my team have completed level one and some completed level three. I have one member of my team who just completed all the training available online. He's done every single module that you have available, including obviously the RPA Advanced Developers training. I think there is a wealth of knowledge there. It's incredible, but it's the same training material that's used internally for UiPath as well as other companies. I think as long as they stay on top of it and make sure that it never gets overlooked, it's a great resource for anyone to get, in order to up-skill in the new technology. If they constantly talk about the democratization of RPA, this is fundamental to that.
The training has helped my team get up to speed, apply best practices, and make sure that we're not wasting time. We were trying to work it out for ourselves in a bit of a haphazard manner. It also forces standardization, of course. Anyone else who decides to get qualified can use it. If you're thinking about doing attended automations, I think it's the right way to do it. Everyone has the same set of standards and rules to build off of.
I would rate the training as four and a half out of five because there's always room for improvement. However, I think it's very thorough and they've covered all the aspects, both technical and not technical. It is very impressive.
I think there are different perks to using one type of robot as opposed to another. The unattended robot cost is higher, therefore the need to make sure the utilization rate is high is paramount to getting your value out of it. I think that makes it challenging but worthwhile. There are different types of processes you will end up pushing towards with an unattended automation profile, whereas an attended profile, which we're starting to move into now, leads to other types of automation opportunities. Attended robots are cheaper, which means it is easier to achieve ROI, but you can almost expect less utilization because it won't be people's full-time jobs. They won't get back all the time and there will be licenses to honor which are being consumed. That has to be baked into the business case. I think you will end up with a portfolio of both. The big opportunities probably sit within an unattended fashion.
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