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MR
Operations Analyst - Primary OpCon at a financial services firm with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Top 20
Customers are happy because jobs are not missing that they wanted run at specific times

Pros and Cons

  • "It makes everything simpler. Once OpCon is in, it just repeats itself day after day. We don't have to worry about whether a process will be missed. It will run every single time. We are not dropping jobs or missing stuff. When you have multiple institutions, it's very easy to miss jobs. You get on a roll, start doing things, and then forget somebody. With OpCon, everything is done."
  • "There is room for improvement needed around setting up the calendars and frequencies. I would like more flexibility in what jobs run. Sometimes, with frequencies, I can't find what I want to without putting a little more labor into it."

What is our primary use case?

We use OpCon to run a multi-institution environment. It allows us to keep tabs on all our customers at the same time. It's convenient in that way. If anything fails, we don't have to have our operations staff log into a credit union, or a specific institution, to find out what is going on. OpCon will tell us what is going on in each one. Therefore, our operators are free to continue on with their manual work and not worry about what is supposed to be automated. They only look into an institution when something fails. An operator can't monitor 10 screens at the same time and see everything that is going on. OpCon allows us not to need to do that.

We are using OpCon's service off the cloud (SaaS).

How has it helped my organization?

Before we put OpCon in, we had some institutions which we tried to keep running in the same way, as we have standardizations. However, there are certain times of the month, such as the end of month, where some of the institutions want to run special jobs at a certain time during the process. When we run them manually, sometimes those jobs would be forgotten. The operators would forget to run them or run them too late. With OpCon, once they are in the schedule, the operators no longer have to think about it. Once we put it in, it is done every month at the same time, then our customers are happy because they are not missing jobs that they wanted run at specific times.

It makes everything simpler. Once OpCon is in, it just repeats day after day. We don't have to worry about whether a process will be missed. It will run every single time. We are not dropping jobs or missing stuff. When you have multiple institutions, it's very easy to miss jobs. You get on a roll, start doing things, and then forget somebody. With OpCon, everything is done.

It runs faster, especially with automation, because one job runs after another. It has to be much quicker, though your speed will depend on your system. E.g., jobs that used to take us a month are getting done by six in the morning, freeing up the morning schedule. End of the month used to take us a long time to run. We would be bumping up against the next day's window. Now, we don't have any issues with that.

OpCon mostly allows employees to concentrate on manual jobs, or extraordinary jobs which come along. They can concentrate on other things, not worrying about the day-to-day process. So, it frees up their time to concentrate on their other work, instead of actually running the system. OpCon frees things up where we don't have to hire an extra person when someone is gone. A backup isn't needed; one person can do the whole thing.

Employees love it, because they were overburdened before. They will not be replaced in their jobs because of all the manual processing and everything else that they are doing. We are not letting anybody go because of OpCon.

What is most valuable?

The daily scheduler is its most valuable feature. We don't really use too many of the other features of it for our environment. As a data center, we can't use features specific to an in-house system, like the Self Service. We're not responsible for those features and just use the scheduler.

What needs improvement?

There is room for improvement needed around setting up the calendars and frequencies. I would like more flexibility in what jobs run. Sometimes, with frequencies, I can't find what I want to without putting a little more labor into it.

For how long have I used the solution?

Since 2007.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Stability has been great over the years. We had a bit of a hiccup this last year with it. We are still trying to work through that. Prior to the latest release, it was great. We didn't have any problems with it. We have had a little issue going on now that we need to handle.

My boss and a couple other people are involved in OpCon's administration. We have a couple other employees who work with it too. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I don't see any limitations with the scalability. We haven't hit anything that is stopping us from what we need to do. 

We have automated 7,000 to 8,000 jobs since deploying OpCon. We have a lot of jobs since there are up to 35 institutions with us. 80 percent of our manual processing has been automated by OpCon. We would like to automate more but the customer won't let us. They want to control the process. They may want to do something first, like check some accounts. They just don't want to let go of it and want us to run it prematurely. Therefore, we rely on them to do some things before we can run their process, but most of the main part is done.

We will be working on trying to automate some of these manual processes. We will probably end up working with the customers, trying to calm them and telling them that we can automate it. They don't have to babysit their process. It's an educational thing. We are in the process of moving our entire data center, so it's on the back-burner right now. We have other things going on so we can't devote time to doing this.

There are four employees who can work on the OpCon solution. OpCon has worked for us as a solution, allowing us to grow. We can have 50 credit unions and still be able to operate with the same staff. It gives us that flexibility.

How are customer service and technical support?

Their support is good. They will spend as much time with you as you need. E.g., If you need help setting something up, they'll help you get it going. They usually handle it right there unless they have to do research themselves with some of the complex stuff. This usually what I end up having: complex items nobody else has. They end up having to get a Level 2 involved or someone who understands what's going on, but they get back to you no matter what. 

If you have a down system, they will stay on the line with you until your system is back up. No matter how long it takes. I once had them on the phone for six to seven hours. It was a complex situation, and they stayed on the line. This was their standard support. This is what they do. Even if it is not them, they will stay with you to try and get OpCon back up.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

It was proprietary scheduler for our operating system. We had another job scheduler that couldn't quite handle the flexibility we needed. It wasn't as sophisticated as what we needed it to do. The frequencies and dependencies were lacking. The jobs that you could set up had to be Windows jobs, so there were a lot of things that we couldn't do. It required a lot of manual tasks. There were interruptions and interventions, so we couldn't get anything done. We didn't stay with it long, as it didn't take us that long to figure out we could not be successful without OpCon. 

The previous solution was cumbersome to work with. OpCon took us about two weeks to install and deploy.

How was the initial setup?

I wasn't quite involved with the installation piece of it. We wrote a Unix script for it.

It took us minutes to automate our first process.

It's very flexible and pretty easy to use. You can go into complex modes if you have to for complex jobs. It depends on what's needed. Most of it is very simple to use and setup. You do need a logical brain to understand what you are doing in some way as you can get lost in some of the features and options, like setting up dependencies and thresholds. If you're not aware of what's really happening, you can mess those up pretty badly. However, as long as you know what you're doing, it's pretty easy.

What about the implementation team?

We only worked with SMA who does most of the deployment. They train you. After that, you do what you need to do. If you ever get stuck, you can just call them up. They will walk you through it and help you out.

It takes one or (at most) two staff members to deploy it. 

What was our ROI?

It has freed up hours for our five operators working on 35 systems doing the monitoring. They don't have to monitor what's going on anymore. They just have to watch their jobs, then react to those.

We are not committing errors all the time, and that's huge. When you miss reports every month, customers get mad after awhile. There is a lot of stress on us from the customers knowing that every day they need to get their requests which shouldn't need follow up. That type of perfection from OpCon is less aggravation for everybody. We are not wasting our time running jobs again because it wasn't right the first time. If customers are going to leave, it won't be because of this solution. It will be because of other reasons, and that is big.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Cost depends on your environment. We are doing stuff now with failover and recovery, so we have boosted our costs. 

Compared to AutoSys and ISE, OpCon was a lot cheaper to put in. AutoSys is hundreds of thousands of dollars to just install it because they don't have an interface into our system. You have to teach them what your system does. 

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

It is better than some of the other systems that we have looked at. It can be as simple or as sophisticated as you want to make it. It's up to you and what you need to do with it.

We have looked AutoSys and Cisco ISE. AutoSys seems a bit more old school in the way they handle things. They are very limited and can't allow the flexibility that we need to run our company. They couldn't allow customers access. Right now, we have customers who can run their own jobs (OpCon Self Service). Therefore, our customers can run jobs that we set up for them. 

With our manual processes that we haven't got to, those are forwarded to be handled in the Self Service funnel. We can set them up and customers can get the job when they're ready. This is where we will be going next to get around the babysitting part. We are looking to implement this feature within the next year. 

Pick the right scheduling tool. If you pick the right one, your jobs are easy. If you choose the wrong one, you can get in a lot more trouble signing up your jobs. OpCon gives you more flexibility with the way that you can do things. Its only your imagination that limits you. If you can write programs or code, that's even better.

What other advice do I have?

I would recommend OpCon to almost anyone. Look at it and learn it. Compare it to the competition. It's great for multiple institutions.

They have everything you really want and would expect schedules to be able to do.

You should have some type of logical background. If you're just a plain operator, you might have trouble trying to understand the concepts. You have to remember which institution you're working with when you start setting up jobs so they aren't operating on the wrong system. So, it's just understanding what you're doing.

I would rate the solution as a 10 (out of 10). It works for us on a multi-solution data center. It gives you a lot more options and does a lot more things, as an in house system. 

Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
RB
Vice President of Information Technology at a financial services firm with 201-500 employees
Real User
Top 20
Runs scripted tasks automatically, repeatedly, and accurately without intervention

Pros and Cons

  • "It can run scripted tasks automatically over and over without intervention. That is what it does and the part that I really like because repetitive tasks need to be done over and over, day after day, no matter what day of the week it is. It is difficult to have staff do these manually and consistently, especially over weekends or through the night. Instead, you can have OpCon do them."
  • "There is one feature that has been a difficult problem, and right now, OpCon can't do it. I'm not sure if it should be expected to, but we have tried to get it to where it could start a process on an external database."

What is our primary use case?

Over the course of my 15 year use, we automated dozens of processes with easily hundreds of tasks. Then, almost six years ago, we outsourced a large number of processes so we didn't do them in-house, and as a result OpCon wasn't doing very much for us for a time. About two years ago, we started automating new processes. Now, with OpCon, we have automated about half a dozen good sized processes.

I am using a very recent version.

How has it helped my organization?

Our most recent automation project had to do with our mortgage origination system where we automated virtually all of the steps being done by a human. This was about two hours worth of work each day, if done manually. This has to be done 365 days a year (weekends or holidays, it doesn't matter). Now, OpCon runs those steps each day. It finishes in under a half an hour and is done before people even have to come into work. This was a project that benefited us tremendously. 

With this project, we made people's time available to do more effective things. We didn't eliminate any staff, but we weren't even trying to. We were trying to make tasks able to be done more consistently and automatically, then allow the staff that used to do them to work on other things.

There used to be either one or two people who had to do this job every single day. So, the automation project affects those two people. Indirectly, it probably benefits 20 to 30 people by having work automated and time available to do more effective things for the company. 

At first, people were skeptical that the work could be done properly. They wanted a solution, but were afraid that it might not work or would not perform as well (as them). However, they are very happy now with the fact that they don't have to come in at 6:00 a.m. and work on holidays, etc. The solution streamlined our mortgage operations. 

While somewhat small, we just recently added automation to an everyday process. This is just one of those things where now nobody has to do it. There was a file that needed to be downloaded from our credit card servicer and moved to a different place on our network, then renamed. You also need to archive the file that was there from yesterday. This was a relatively straightforward set of tasks. I don't think the automation project took very long to do, probably a couple of hours, likely less; it took somebody 15 minutes a day. Now, nobody has to even think about it, as it's just there automatically. We have had two similar, recent projects where it was a question of downloading files made available on a daily basis, putting and renaming them where they need to be, and then managing archives of the files afterward. 

What is most valuable?

It can run scripted tasks automatically over and over without intervention. That is what it does and the part that I really like because repetitive tasks need to be done over and over, day after day, no matter what day of the week it is. It is difficult to have staff do these manually and accurately, especially over weekends or through the night. Instead, you can have OpCon do them.

What needs improvement?

I wouldn't call it the easiest to automate. It has to be learned, training is required, then you get better at it over time. There are right ways and wrong ways to go about it (think standards, best practices, conventions). It isn't realistic to think that OpCon is very easy and you can just start clicking around to do complex things. It's flexibility and rich feature set also make it challenging at first.

There is one thing I wish OpCon could do. I'm not sure if it should be expected to, but we have tried to get it to where it could start a process on an external database. I'm sure SMA would say that in some cases it can, but we have a specific application where it can't. Therefore, if there were some tools which allowed us to interact with this external database automatically, that would be helpful. 

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using the solution for about 15 years. Those 15 years that I have been using OpCon span two different employers.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is very stable. It is rarely offline or not functioning because of some internal error. This happens once in a great while, so I would call it very stable.

It can be deployed and maintained by as little as one person or a fraction of an FTE. It's not a full-time job taking care of it, not at the scale of our company.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

My impression is that it scales incredibly, because of the size of some of the institutions that it has been used in, even being used by our own banking solutions provider at their large multi-tenant level.

OpCon is capable of running automation for multiple servers and multiple businesses, e.g., many dozens of institutions like ours. There are very large scale deployments of OpCon, but I don't know how many servers, consoles, or employees that it takes to run them. 

70 percent of our manual processing has been automated. I guess we have more to do!

For our environment, OpCon has daily schedules doing jobs throughout the day and night. It is fairly extensive. I would consider it a critical piece of our operations. 

There might be as many as a dozen employees who touch it in some way, shape, or form. There are maybe two or three employees capable of working with it as administrators. Perhaps a couple are power users. The are indirect consumers or beneficiaries of the service. Also, there is a module called self-service. We have a number of users in back office type roles who use self-service buttons to accomplish some tasks by kicking off a process or task. 

How are customer service and technical support?

I would rate the technical support very high. They know their product very well. OpCon also knows our industry and is very commonly deployed in our vertical, which is financial services, and in particular, credit unions. They implement their own best practices and can therefore easily build on work their consultants have previously accomplished.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I did use another automation tool before OpCon, but there is almost no comparison. It is certainly not apples to apples. I have used Windows Scheduler to do very simple things, but again, there is no comparison to what OpCon can do.

OpCon was implemented at my former company while I was there, and when I came to work for my current company, the solution was already in place.

How was the initial setup?

I was involved in initial setup in my other job a long time ago. It was relatively complex, but SMA does it for you. From that standpoint, it made the initial setup straightforward for me.

For the two employers that I have done this solution with, the strategy was to identify the most important processes that we wished to have automated. It might be important because of the process's criticality to the company or because of how annoying it is to have to do it every day. Those are identified, then documentation is gathered together. It might also be information inside people's heads. So, you have to do some interviews or onboarding meetings where you get the information together required to make it able to be automated. You work with an SMA engineer to do the initial automation along with training, then you place it into production. My strategy from there is to use the onsite expertise to help identify the next tier of things that should be automated so we can work on them ourselves as we go forward.

What about the implementation team?

SMA normally does the initial deployment. They come onsite for your first implementation and spend a week. Then, they often will come back and spend a second week as part of the deployment plan. By the time they are done, there are usually a great number of identified processes which have already been automated. From the initial deployment to getting things up and running on a server to having things automated in production, you can easily have these results inside a month.

What was our ROI?

The solution has reduced data processing times in two ways:

  1. With the mortgage servicing example, that was a large project. It accomplishes the work in a much shorter amount of time. Nobody has to waste their time waiting between cycles and tasks. Essentially, it cuts down drastically on how long the process takes. 
  2. In the case of one of the more recent smaller examples, it does its job in something close to minutes, even possibly under a minute. Whereas, if a person had to go to their workstation, sit down, login, and transfer the file, then rename it, it would take them perhaps five minutes or more. On a percentage basis, that is a huge time savings.

Offhand I would say it's at least a 75 percent time savings. We have not done a formal ROI. However, looking at our licensing costs on an annual basis and showing how that saves in terms of staff time/efficiency and getting tasks done after hours (365 days a year), we do see return on our investment.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

There are standard licensing fees and annual maintenance. They also have a subscription model that is a hybrid managed service. We have also invested in ancillary API and connector licences specific to our environment and use cases.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

At my previous company, we did evaluate other options. We evaluated another process automation commercial package, and we decided instead on OpCon.

We chose OpCon because of how feature rich it was. The other products could have done the immediate things at hand that we wanted to automate. However, we pictured OpCon as being able to do more than that down the line, so we wanted to invest in a more robust solution.

What other advice do I have?

Technically, almost anything can be automated. However, there is almost an equal amount of work that has to be done to have the people part accept and trust it.

My advice to overcome the people factor would be to adopt a fairly formal project management approach and bring those people in as stakeholders. Listen to what they want, then try to ask questions for the rest, as there are things that they just won't tell you. Get as much possible information from them so they understand that you want to help them and are not trying to take their job away. That is the big thing: people shouldn't feel like their job is threatened at all. Work through a project management process showing them how progress is being made, what the results are, and help them to start trusting the solution along the way before it goes live. The big key is communication and information gathering.

The solution is very good. It's robust and scales. OpCon comes with good tech support. There is always room for a product to grow or be a little easier to use or maintain. I would give it a nine (out of 10) overall.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
Learn what your peers think about OpCon. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: October 2021.
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ML
Data Center Manager at a insurance company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Top 20
Enabled us to go from manual scheduling to automating it, resulting in considerably fewer errors and time savings

Pros and Cons

  • "We're also starting to use its Self Service and Solution Manager. My team in the data center and some of the development team use the Self Service. Developers are using the Self Service for upon-request jobs for their testing. They used to have to go through us to schedule testing and now they can just go on and kick it off all they want. They have also really appreciated that they have access to view and/or submit jobs."
  • "Of course they have a RESTful API within OpCon, but they have that new web services agent that we installed because we have some SOAP APIs and we had to interact with SMA to get things running. Our developers did do some tweaks, but we have now been able to get some test jobs running, and understand how the workflow goes back and forth."

What is our primary use case?

Our use cases for OpCon are expanding. We initially went with it because we're a Unisys mainframe company and they were the only scheduler that did what we wanted it to, and that also supports Unisys. But we have branched out into running Windows SQL jobs, and we will soon be starting up API interaction. Hopefully at some point, because we are going cloud and the mainframe is going away, we'll start interacting with that also. We'll start doing that change within the next three to six months.

How has it helped my organization?

I've been here from day one, and it has gone from us manually writing out schedules, and operators having to remember pre's and posts, etc.—all done manually—to getting that automated. Once that was all automated, it was a huge improvement for us because there were considerably fewer errors. The errors are very minimal now. When someone implements a job, if they have a typo or copied a similar job and forgot to change something, those would be about the only errors that we have now. We're down to hardly any. We now have less than one a week.

The improvement with the Solution Manager, so that the programmers can become more aware of what's going on within the scheduler, has really helped us.

OpCon has also saved our IT department time. There is a lot less interaction with the developers. Developers are aware of the information they need to give us to place something into the scheduler. We've set up a template, they send in that information, we get it implemented for them, and they're up and running. We used to ask them to give us two workday weeks to get something implemented for them and, depending on the complexity, that's down to a day or less, at times.

With IT time freed up, we've been able to move forward with other business needs, especially now because of the switchover and the mainframe going away. It has enabled my staff to start studying other aspects of our IT areas.

With the Self Service feature, person-hours have decreased. We still don't use it to its full potential, but it's helped on the development side for testing. It has definitely sped up the developers' testing processes, and it enables them to get things to production a lot quicker. They're happy with that. The Self Service has also reduced calls to our IT department when it comes to testing, for sure. As a result, my staff has a little more time to work on other things, rather than fielding calls left and right from the programmers. That helps a lot.

What is most valuable?

Now that we can get into the API and we're starting to learn that, it's really nice. 

We're also starting to use its Self Service and Solution Manager. My team in the data center and some of the development team use the Self Service. Developers are using the Self Service for upon-request jobs for their testing. They used to have to go through us to schedule testing and now they can just go on and kick it off all they want. They have also really appreciated that they have access to view and/or submit jobs.

Working with the various APIs has actually allowed us to keep the scheduler, because there were those in our company who were thinking about looking for something else, given that they were considering it to only be a mainframe scheduler. As new options and agents and connectors have come along, that's opened their eyes a little bit more.

What needs improvement?

It's been a while since we've asked for tweaks. Because we're a little bit of a slower company, they have something out by the time we start checking into, "Hey, can you give us an idea on how this works?" or "This is how we want to use it."

An example is the API. Of course they have a RESTful API within OpCon, but they have that new web services agent that we installed because we have some SOAP APIs and we had to interact with SMA to get things running. Our developers did do some tweaks, but we have now been able to get some test jobs running, and understand how the workflow goes back and forth. 

When they initially set up SQL agents, they helped us set up that too.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using the OpCon for 16 to 18 years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability has been very good.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We haven't had any issues with scalability. I've been to a few of their conferences where there are banks that are OpCon customers and they have thousands of jobs that they run, or even hundreds of thousands of jobs. We've got plenty of room to expand.

I'm hoping, with our moving off the mainframe, that we will have a chance to really branch out. Initially, the company just looked at it as the mainframe scheduler, so we weren't really able to ask for additional instances. Hopefully, as we go along, we may be able to grab some of the other options.

We're running on the order of thousands of jobs monthly. Our future usage depends on how well we can get everybody to jump on the bandwagon, but I see it staying at that amount, if not increasing, as we move towards the cloud and other options.

How are customer service and technical support?

From our dealings with them, I think they've done an excellent job when we're in a crunch. They get more than one person on the phone and we haven't ever had any bad experiences with them. When new levels come out they've helped us. And the marketing guy, Christian, he checks in all the time.

How was the initial setup?

Deployment would not take very long now, with the way they have the install set up.

We usually do a test server to start with, just to make sure everything went well before we do production. This last one took about an hour or two on the test side. We ran into something with updating the database. It was something on our side that the database administrators had locked down, so it wasn't working quite right between when we installed in test and installed in production; they had tightened the permissions down. Other than that, it takes us about an hour to get through what we need done.

My implementation strategy for deploying it for the first time would be to put it to test in our test database, and then grab a few jobs from each type of job we run and see how it works with the test database. I would then check with the developers that everything looks like it ran okay and then we would take a weekend and deploy it to production. Of course, we would do testing there as well. Since it's VM, we just have the VM guys ramp up a new server, so it's always a new install and, if it doesn't work, we can always fall back to the old version and the old server.

For deployment, we usually bring two of us in, and that's it. For maintenance of OpCon, we only have one or two people, as backup. We have operators per shift who actually run it, but for maintenance there are only a couple of people. One of them is me, in my role as a data center manager, and the second individual is part of my staff.

In terms of the number of users of OpCon, the numbers have dropped now that we're moving off of mainframe, but we'll be picking back up. Currently there are about 100 programmers that could possibly have access. We don't have that many yet in Self Service. And there are 12 on our staff that use it, including a couple of admins, a couple of implementation people, and the rest are operators.

What about the implementation team?

When we first had it installed, there was a really great guy who came in, who doesn't work with them anymore. We had some training onsite while he was here. We weren't really involved at that point in time in installing it ourselves. It was always an OpCon representative showing up. Now, it's more the case that we install and get a hold of them if we have any issues.

What was our ROI?

We've always been on our own with this scheduler, so it's helped out our department and I feel it's helped out the programmers quite a bit. It has automated a lot of things, which should help our IT as a whole, because we haven't had to have the largest staff.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

At the same time that I'm trying to keep it in our company, everybody thinks it's very expensive. We haven't looked at other schedulers or what they can do for us, but that's what I'm always told.

Aside from the standard licensing fee, there aren't any other costs that come with it. We have the enterprise option so it's one annual fee for whatever we can do with it. You have to have the enterprise level for the mainframe, and that gives us room to grow.

What other advice do I have?

It's awesome to have the automation and to let it do things for you, but you need to stick with it and really figure out how to optimize it.

I'm still working on trying to explain to others in our organization that when it comes to server reboots and things like that, OpCon can do that for them too. They may not be interested in that as they have their own third-party software. I haven't gotten a lot of them to hop on the bandwagon yet. Our VMware guys are still stuck to their guns. We'll have to find out how much we do go into the cloud or on-prem to see if we can't help them out in those areas.

We don't use OpCon's Vision feature yet. Our company is very conservative, so it's a slow process. Unless you can get a lot of people onboard, it's hard to get things pushed through. I'm hoping others will see how well it interacts with the various types of systems and how it processes the jobs back and forth, through the various versions, and that they'll see a little more use for it. Another aspect is budget, because right now we're trying to move to the cloud and a lot of people are being trained at the moment and having to run legacy, side-by-side, versus new. So there's a money-crunch thing.

It's a good product. They can run almost anything you need to run, as far as I am aware. And the staff is really great to work with. It's a plus on all sides, in my opinion.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
NR
Senior Core Systems Specialist at a financial services firm with 201-500 employees
Real User
Top 20
It has allowed more time for our staff to work on projects which affect our organization

Pros and Cons

  • "It has streamlined operations, specifically with the timing of our processes. We don't have to worry about if things are going to run at a certain time. The automation allows us to say, "Okay, we want this to run at this time, and this to not run until that is done." So, it has really streamlined the accuracy and timeline of when jobs run throughout the day."
  • "It does not have the ability to interact with third-parties via the web/Internet. We have certain processes where we have to interact with a third-party on a website, and unfortunately OpCon just cannot do that."

What is our primary use case?

Primarily, it is used for automation of our daily processing with our core system, Symitar. There are the jobs that we run every day. We also have weekly and monthly jobs setup. These jobs have to do with different departments or reports run on specific days of the week or month. 

We process all of our ACHs and shared draft or check processing in OpCon. Also, VISA credit card processing is all done through OpCon.

We are running anywhere between 400 to 500 jobs a day, on average.

How has it helped my organization?

The biggest benefit, as a department, is it has allowed us to move away our focus from manually processing all daily processes with our ACH and shared drafts, reports, etc. It's allowed us the opportunity to work on different projects and upgrades within our organization. It's given us time back from needing to have someone onsite manually processing everything from 6:00 am until 10:00 pm at night.

We are about 92 percent automated right now.

It has streamlined operations, specifically with the timing of our processes. We don't have to worry about if things are going to run at a certain time. The automation allows us to say, "Okay, we want this to run at this time, and this to not run until that is done." So, it has really streamlined the accuracy and timeline of when jobs run throughout the day.

Employees have been very positive, as far as the changes in their tasks are concerned. For example, our payment services and accounting department use Self Service. This has helped them from their old manual process of taking anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes for a job started to a simple click, then the job is done. So, they have been very excited to not have to go through such a rigorous process just to run one step.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable process that we use is just the basic automation with the use of Enterprise Manager, which is their user interface. We also use a bit of their Self Service product, but not as much as we want to. Our primary feature is just the Enterprise Manager, which is essentially their basic version. This feature allows us to create, modify, and test different automation processes. It also allows us to be notified in the case of jobs failing to finish, or if for some reason the job doesn't finish in time. It can tell us that information as well, but it gives us a good overall view of OpCon processes and where we are at for the day.

I would definitely rank basic ease of use as very high. It is very user-friendly. There are some processes and functions which are a little more advanced. Overall, it's something that is very user-friendly, as they have designed it to be that way.

What needs improvement?

I don't think there's a change that needs to be made other than little minor bug fixes here and there.

There are limitations to this product and certain things that it just can't do. It does not have the ability to interact with third-parties via the web/Internet. We have certain processes where we have to interact with a third-party on a website, and unfortunately OpCon just cannot do that.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using OpCon for 11 years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability is amazing. Because everything is on-prem, we control the network environment from OpCon to other servers within our networking environment. As far as the product goes, there has only been one time in the 11 years that we've been using it when the product has gone down. It was due to our networking going down, so it wasn't even the product. It was an internal issue.

Deployment and maintenance really only needs one person. OpCon is that user-friendly. With the right support, one person should be able to build, maintain, and administrate it. This is actually my primary role.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Our department isn't very big. As far as people that this would specifically affect, we only have about four employees. As far as overall in the organization, it has really helped out a lot with our accounting, payment services, and card services departments. Including those departments, we are looking at 45 to 50 employees that OpCon has affected as far as automating their processes.

Its users are primarily in our IT department. We have five in our IT department, but then we also have our payment service and accounting departments who use the Self Service feature. We have about 25 actual users that have hands-on contact with OpCon. Most of those are with the Self Service. Internally, with IT and the Enterprise Manager solution, there are only about five of us who really touch that part of the product.

We are not one of their bigger clients, but OpCon definitely has the opportunity to grow. We have increased substantially from when we first started. We were only running about 200 jobs a month, and now, we are running anywhere from 400 to 500 jobs a day. The allotment for growth is there. We have just gone to enterprise licensing, which allows us to install the agent anywhere on different servers. We are just getting ready to install it on another four or five machines. The scalability is definitely there. With our program or agreements, we have that ability to grow exponentially.

How are customer service and technical support?

They are absolutely fantastic. Since I've been the primary administrator, I've worked with OpCon support multiple times. Every single time I've worked them, I've not had a bad experience. They've been able to resolve any type of situation that I may have or help with any technical assistance needs. They have been very consistent. Even with changes of support reps there, it's still been very consistent as far as the quality of support that I've received.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

OpCon was our first workload automation tool.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was quite complex. Because we have been on it for quite some time, the process to initially establish and build OpCon was substantially different than it is now. Now, if we were a new customer going onto OpCon, the process would be much simpler.

We weren't familiar a lot with the solution at the time of the initial setup. Also, it was more of a scripted program when we initially installed it. Whereas, now, even though the scripting is still there, the process of installing and upgrading is much simpler even for an initial install. A few years back, we upgraded from our really old version to a newer version. The upgrade only took a couple of hours. The initial install was two weeks of hands-on writing jobs, scripting jobs, and doing all of that. Now that they've built job functions into the program, a lot of that scripting isn't required. It's already built in.

Our first processes were automated during the initial install, but we were extremely limited at that point. We only automated maybe five percent of our daily processes. As far as regular implementation and automation of those processes, we really started getting into that and getting stuff active from a testing environment within a month or two. After a couple of months, I was familiar enough with the product to where I could start just going in and building automation. To get comfortable with the product, it took about two months.

As far as implementation strategy overall, after the initial install, we really tried to focus on the standard daily processing, such as ACHs and share drafts/checks. From there, we expanded into daily reports running for different departments. Now, we are even to the point where all of our credit card processes are automated. This is an ongoing strategy in which we try to automate as much as possible to alleviate the need for manual processing. The manual processing of files, or even file transfers, is a really big thing that we've been doing a lot recently, e.g., uploading and downloading files from third-party vendors.

What about the implementation team?

Their consultant came onsite and performed the install. We did an initial training on it as well.

What was our ROI?

We have absolutely seen ROI. It has allowed more time for our staff to work on projects which affect the organization on a greater level than just daily processing. This has allowed us to expand our base. It has really helped out with that.

As far as data processing in the manual entry, we are saving overall two hours a day. This would be instead of manually going eight hours. Therefore, it has saved about 25 percent of data processing time.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Annually, we pay $29,000. This is for a blanket policy that covers everything, like licensing and support. 

If we choose to purchase consulting hours, that is an additional cost. However, we've been lucky enough that we've not used all of our allotted consulting hours. Therefore, that is not something that we have had to purchase a lot of. The last time that we purchased consulting hours was roughly two years ago. We purchased a block of 10 for $2,500. It was $250 per hour.

What other advice do I have?

It's definitely worth the cost. It will help with your time management. It helps take the human error out of some of the day-to-day or mundane things, such as processes that have to be done manually. It gives you peace of mind to know that something that you scheduled will run, and if for any reason it doesn't, you have the support to help get you back on track and troubleshoot any issues.

There is not a whole lot that needs to be changed with the program. I think it's a fantastic program. I wish that we, as an organization, were utilizing it more to its full functionality. Otherwise, their functionality and processing are fantastic. Overall, it's a great product and doesn't need to change.

The biggest lesson that I've learned from using it is to not underestimate it. They have recently changed their slogan to, "Yes, that's possible." That's one of the things that I've really learned and have accepted with this program. There have been multiple times where I was quite resistant to what it could do. It opened my eyes to how powerful it is and what it really can do.

I would rate OpCon as a nine (out of 10). Nothing is perfect, but it's as close to it as you can get.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
SR
System Administrator at a financial services firm with 51-200 employees
Real User
Allows us to run everything through a central point, making troubleshooting much easier

Pros and Cons

  • "The automation of processes is the most valuable feature. One of the major hurdles for us over the last few years, before we found OpCon, was to make our nightly process happen automatically. Being a bank, we have nightly update processes that have to happen for posting transactions, for example, and it was a huge load off our department to have that automated."
  • "I think that they're working on this, but I wish that there was a more centralized area to be able to see what other people are doing... They have a community platform for OpCon users, but I want to see more of where somebody is doing this process in that way. They have a great community platform right now, but I feel that it could be developed."

What is our primary use case?

We use it for automation of our nightly workflows as well as automation of our internal processes that are happening all day, including moving files, and running jobs on our core system. We also interface it with a lot of the database servers. We use it for a lot. 

How has it helped my organization?

We automated our nightly update process and, in doing that, we freed up employees to be able to do something else and not have to worry about that. In my area, we have six or seven who have been freed up, and I've also expanded it out to more of our operations. For example, before, people would tell us that something was ready to be run and we would ask somebody to actually run that job on our core. By using the Solution Manager that OpCon provides, employees can kick that job off themselves. So it has freed up even more people. The employees involved have embraced the changes. They are happy to be able to focus their time on more meaningful tasks. Giving them that button via Solution Manager, they are happy to hit that button and that they don't have to wait on anybody else. It has saved us time. It's more efficient.

It's just streamlined our entire IT operations. Before, we had batch files running on certain servers and they were all over the place; this server did this, another server did that. But now, everything is streamlined into one. All the automation, processes and moving, is happening straight through OpCon. The run of a day is all happening through this one server. In the past, when an issue would arise, we'd have to troubleshoot and figure out where it was running, what's happening, why it was not working. Now we have a central point to focus on to be able to know what's happened and move forward.

We are running 13,935 daily jobs through OpCon, which represent approximately 1,200 daily schedules that we're running over the course of a month. We have automated about 75 to 80 percent of our manual processing. And we're still building and adding things to it every day.

In addition, if a process used to take 20 minutes to do, it may only take 10 minutes now because somebody has the whole process in their control. The nightly update process, that used to take at least a few hours, now that it runs automated, runs in an hour-and-a-half or so. So there are some significant gains. If I had to estimate, I'd say our data processing has improved by 70 percent.

What is most valuable?

The automation of processes is the most valuable feature. One of the major hurdles for us over the last few years, before we found OpCon, was to make our nightly process happen automatically. Being a bank, we have nightly update processes that have to happen for posting transactions, for example, and it was a huge load off our department to have that automated.

It's pretty easy to use. They have help information built right into the program so anytime you're trying to build something and you need help, you just hit F1 and there's documentation on what you're trying to do. OpCon does offer training, and I did attend both the basic and the advanced training, which were very helpful. But if you understand PowerShell and things like that, you could, potentially, build OpCon without going to formal training. I do think it is easy to use.

What needs improvement?

I think that they're working on this, but I wish that there was a more centralized area to be able to see what other people are doing and use the OpCon community, per se. I went to their annual conference and I gained a lot of contacts from that. I keep in touch with them and we talk, but it'd be nice to have more of that be more readily available. They have a community platform for OpCon users, but I want to see more of where somebody is doing this process in that way. They have a great community platform right now, but I feel that it could be developed.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been using OpCon for almost three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution is very stable. I haven't seen any stability issues with the product to date. They tell you what exactly what is to be expected. They provide documentation of updates and what you should do and what you shouldn't do. I feel that as long as I follow the guidance from them, I won't have any stability issues.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We started using it as well for running our database maintenance at night. We have multiple database servers running in-house and we were able to start doing that with OpCon. There are many solutions that it interfaces with and, while we're not leveraging all of them, we're using a good number of them.

How are customer service and technical support?

Their technical support is very good. I called them more in the beginning when we were doing the implementation, but I'll call them anytime. For any of the processes that I'm trying to work with, they always have somebody who will help. It's been a very good experience using their support.

They have very knowledgeable resources. Everybody that I talk to over there has always been a big help. I went out to the conference and met a lot of people that I hadn't necessarily talked to on the phone and they all were very knowledgeable and helpful.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We did not previously use an automation solution. We had done things like using PowerShell and doing scripting on the servers, but we had not used those things exclusively as an automation platform.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was pretty straightforward. We knew what we were getting. When we finally made the decision to purchase it, our rep reached out to us and told us exactly what was going to be happening with the implementation and when he was going to show up. We got that all scheduled, he showed up, and everything took off from there.

Our experience with the SMA tech during implementation was awesome. He was very knowledgeable. He had years of experience in the field that we are in. The gentleman who came out to us had worked in IBM for many years as a programmer, so he knew what we were doing and how we were trying to do it. He was able to take the processes that we were already doing and develop them after we got OpCon in place. He came out for one week of just implementation of OpCon, and then he came out for a second week to develop these things. He was very resourceful and knowledgeable, and if he didn't know the answer, he found it within a reasonable amount time.

Technically, OpCon was up and running on the first day, but we were still moving things into it during that first week. Within a week we had processes that were being automated. It wasn't long at all. We already had a good understanding of what was happening. We just took what was happening and moved it into OpCon. As long as we had file permissions, it wasn't an issue.

Our major focus was on our core processing. Our core has numerous file moves and transfers and hundreds of jobs that run every day. We wanted to automate the nightly process and include the jobs that were running on the core all day. We took those processes and migrated them over from the IBM Advanced Job Scheduler into OpCon. That was our immediate focus. From there, we branched out and started doing the stuff that was happening on the Window Servers. We moved all of that over into OpCon, including FTP from our core vendor, as well as the moving and posting of files.

What was our ROI?

We have absolutely seen ROI in terms of having our update process automated. That was costing our IT department quite a bit of overtime, because employees were working their normal schedules and then they would have to be responsible for the nightly update process. They would be on a rotation of course, but overall, the overtime expenses have gone down as a result of installing OpCon. And the processes that we no longer have to focus on, on a daily basis, allow our employees to be more efficient in doing other things.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked at a couple of solutions a little bit before we found OpCon. We found OpCon at a user group meeting for our core provider. We had looked at others and we hadn't found one that was suitable for all the uses that we'd need it for.

One solution we looked at was iRobot, but that was strictly IBM-driven. It was just running on the core but it didn't have any logic within it. OpCon has the agent on the IBM that can look at like dates and interpret them and give it an answer based on whether things line up or not. And the iRobot program had the ability to kick off jobs, but it didn't have any logic built into it.

What other advice do I have?

The biggest lesson I have learned from using OpCon is that anything is possible. There is literally nothing that I have found yet that it can't do. I've called support and shared with them what I think is a crazy idea, and they'll say, "Oh no, we can do that." We talk about it and figure out a solution and go from there.

When you first look at it and look at everything that has to be done, you need somebody who is going to be dedicated to the product. It looks like there is a lot to do, but the reward far outweighs what it looks like upfront.

There are about 10 users of OpCon in our company. Half of them are in IT and the other half are in operations. In terms of our frontline retail staff, only one person there is using it. The rest are the operations area. They're the ones who kick off the processes through Solution Manager. In terms of maintenance of OpCon, there are three of us who work together exclusively on OpCon.

I have to give it 10 out of 10. It's done great things for us and it continues to so every day.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
EJ
System Analyst at a financial services firm with 51-200 employees
Real User
Top 20
Improved our consistency on how batch jobs are run and their schedule

Pros and Cons

  • "Manual processing has been automated 99 percent by OpCon. With new processes, we give it at least two weeks manual so we can write down the details of how to do the steps, then we automate it. Within a month, it has been automated, then it's no longer a manual process."
  • "There is some difficulty with the ease of use when I don't have some of the templates that were already created. More templates would be great. Non-core featured templates are my biggest struggle."

What is our primary use case?

The solution is for our core system processing, which runs our scheduled programs. We are a financial institution, so it does our postings, reporting, nightly processes, and file transfers for anything which needs to go in and out of the core going to designated places. OpCon now does any type of repetitious work that we would have an operator do.

I have it implemented in our accounting and card departments for their processes, our payment systems, and HR for the onboarding/offboarding of employees. We also have it in IT.

How has it helped my organization?

It improved our consistency on how batch jobs are run and their schedule. It used to be left up to me or another operator to do the postings of these jobs. They were not always done on time. If it was supposed to be done at 8:00, then it'd be done at 8:10 or 8:15. Now, 8:00 is 8:00. Jobs are more efficient, and with the schedule, there is no variation on the time. These things will be run.

The other part is some of these jobs have prompts in them. You had to answer those prompts and make sure you were consistent in your answers. If you rely on a person to do it, sometimes those answers are not done correctly. Whereas, with OpCon, it will always be a consistent response to those answers. There is no deviating whatsoever. This reduced the responsibility of another operator who can be moved over to do something else. It went from that person doing the job to monitoring what is going on in OpCon. It also has expanded their job responsibilities to other things that need to be done.

The solution has streamlined operations. E.g., we have at least 20 different jobs in our nightly process. These have been streamlined within OpCon using one master job that does each one of those different batch jobs for us.

It has freed up my time because the other operator and I use to tag team. It also helps because I don't have to come in for month-end or nighttime processing. We don't need a nighttime operator, which is nice.

You can sleep in and get notifications if something fails, which was a nice part of it. If something is processing, and you want to make sure that it processes okay, this is probably one of the best things about the scheduling and automation of the solution. It does free up your employees to do other things. You no longer have to worry about them missing a step or not posting on time.

It gives me more time to program. For others, they now work on other things that we have in our IT department. This goes to some of the networking things that we have going on, help desk situations, and looking at what is the latest and greatest in things out there that we can dive into in terms of home banking products, e.g., if we can add things to those features.

What is most valuable?

Being able to copy what we already have, then apply it to another task is one of the cool features. It saves time. When I know there is another new process coming up, I can copy an existing one and just change a couple of things in it that need to be changed for it to run the new job process. The nice part about the copy part is I don't have to go back and look at what I had to call it, put in those settings, etc. I already know what those settings are, which is great. I just need to tell it the new job has to run, then schedule a time, and if there is a different time for it.

I am getting into the self-service part of it, which means I can then assign users to kick off odd processes which are not on a true set schedule. They can pretty much initiate it themselves. That is one of the features that I really like. 

I like the notifications of when jobs have completed or failed. This is a big plus because you can either have an email or email and text sent to you. That is very helpful.

What needs improvement?

There is some difficulty with the ease of use when I don't have some of the templates that were already created. I know they have to make general templates across the board for everyone to use with different types of systems, but it is good to have the templates done. Then, the solution becomes very easy to figure out, and I know that I will always use OpCon in this way or in this different scenario, as it will work for me with these usages.

More templates would be great. Non-core featured templates are my biggest struggle. For example, the PowerShell functionality is really cool, so I dove into that a bit where I wrote scripts using PowerShell for our Active Directory.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using it since 2013.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's a stable solution.

We require one person and a backup for deploying and maintaining the solution.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It's capable of working with other system, which is very good. It is very scalable.

We have about 4,328 daily jobs with 897 daily scheduled. We probably had about a hundred jobs when we first started. We have been adding them here and there as we go along.

We have at least 15 employees using the solution, plus another employee and me.

OpCon has been implemented 100 percent for IT in what we do at our core. For the rest of the departments, this solution is around five to 10 percent of what they do.

Besides our core, we're trying to see if we can branch out to other types of things that can be automated. There is always room for growth. I think we have tapped out on what OpCon can do for our core. It is now what else can it do for us that is not core. That is why we are looking at our HR department and networking stuff, and being able to automate some of the system processes there. E.g., pinging network servers to make sure they are online, up, and available, and also scheduling any type of tasks that they might have.

How are customer service and technical support?

They are average for technical support. I still have to do my own research on some things.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I have never used an automation system other than Windows Scheduler, which is probably the best way. You go into Windows, restart your computer every day or run updates at this time. Whereas, OpCon gives us more prompts and things to do where you can set up different PCs or servers to do certain things.

How was the initial setup?

I was involved in the initial setup, but that was back in 2013. I was excited at the time, but wasn't sure what I was getting into. The initial setup was complex because it was something I knew I wanted, but didn't know what it was.

When we first set it up, we requested a book of jobs to be done for us. This was like a set standard of batch jobs that would need to be automated. I have been able to elaborate and expand on those.

It took us a week after deployment of OpCon to automate our first process.

Our implementation strategy was to first start simple, then go into our complex processes. 

Simple for us would be running a batch job that has maximum three or four prompts in it. Then, we go complex with the RACH process, where we receive files, process those files, and schedule times for them to post. Then, we run intermittent jobs in-between to produce a return file that goes back out. 

What about the implementation team?

We had an onsite person come for a week from SMA. Our overall experience was great. He was a nice guy who handheld us through some of the processes, making sure that we were good and explaining everything to us. That was probably the best thing of having him here onsite, and not remotely, because he could see where our questions were stemming from and why we were asking certain things. He then helped us set up the different templates for our processes.

What was our ROI?

Manual processing has been automated 99 percent by OpCon. With new processes, we give it at least two weeks manual so we can write down the details of how to do the steps, then we automate it. Within a month, it has been automated, then it's no longer a manual process.

It has freed up my time. I don't have to stay late at night. We don't need a nighttime operator, which is one of the biggest things, at least for me. Some places I know, they need to have other employees besides the two basic ones during the day do operations. Now, we don't need an extra person for that. 

It has freed up our time for other things. We get to program a little more.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Our licensing is on a yearly basis.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We did not evaluate other vendors. 

I had seen OpCon a few years ago before at a conference for Coresystems and they were the only ones there. Jump to 2013, I find out that our executives had said, "Yes, we're going to go with them." I was very happy with this.

What other advice do I have?

Have a list of items that they would like to have automated. That way they can sit there, and say, "Yes, I did accomplish what I wanted with the system." Then, what do I want to expand on afterwards? 

The work upfront is great. In the long run, it makes your life a lot easier. You will have to do some work upfront, which is knowing your manual processes, remembering them, and knowing what they are step-by-step. Once this is mapped out, it makes it easier to implement OpCon. You also have a template that tells you where you might have missed a step if something fails within OpCon.

It has made my life very easy. In a way to me, it is an AI. Though, we still have to tell it what to do, it is one step closer.

OpCon is probably about a nine (out of 10). There is always room to grow.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
Rani Jackson
Manager, Computer Operations at a financial services firm with 501-1,000 employees
Real User
Top 20
Keeps business flowing and with proactivity

Pros and Cons

  • "There are a lot of valuable features. The version that we're currently casting, Self Service, is going to be the most valuable to us. It is going to allow us to open up the doors, broaden our automation capability and help other business units to be able to automate a lot of the little things that they do from day to day. I'm really looking forward to being able to help other areas with their automation needs. Self Service is really key."
  • "Enterprise Manager is a little clunky which I know they're addressing in the solution's manager."

What is our primary use case?

We have OpCon in our test environment, we're testing that right now and putting it into production next month.

Our primary use cases are for our core system that does batch processing for our core system, which is Symitar. We have automated about 90% of our daily processing. And we have started to branch out to utilize it more for Self Service where our other business units can automate some of their processing as well.

How has it helped my organization?

The fact that if you automate your core processing, in our case, alleviates the need to make sure that if somebody is running late or somebody calls in sick, your jobs are still going to run, they're still going to be on time. It has notifications built-in to let you know if something has failed or has missed the start time. It really keeps your business flowing and with proactivity. That's been the biggest example for my institution. It's the fact that we're a 24-hour shop. There's no downtime. It keeps us running and moving. We're about 90% automated if we look at our core processing. 

The automation of manual tasks has reduced human error by at least 40 hours a week. It's essentially saving another person. 

It has saved our IT team time by automating things a lot less wait time for people waiting for my team to actually run processes or transfer things. There's no delay in between the time when something is supposed to happen and when it happens.

We are able to move forward with business needs. My team is now able to learn, do additional training and other facets of IT. Rather than spending the time blending jobs, transferring, and doing things manually, they're now able to work on other projects within the organization. They're learning more about different areas of how other things function within IT. We become more project-oriented than process-oriented. We're able to identify things within the business that we can automate or that could be changed. We've gone from reactive to proactive

We are at least 80% more productive. 

What is most valuable?

There are a lot of valuable features. The version that we're currently casting, Self Service, is going to be the most valuable to us. It is going to allow us to open up the doors, broaden our automation capability and help other business units to be able to automate a lot of the little things that they do from day to day. I'm really looking forward to being able to help other areas with their automation needs. Self Service is really key.

OpCon is pretty easy to use. I'm not a programmer, I had no formal training. They offer some basic training courses. They also have a lot of documentation online and their support staff is super helpful. So it's pretty easy as long as you can take the time to familiarize yourself. It's a pretty easy application.

For the Enterprise Manager, the UI is okay. It puts your processing in alphabetical order instead of the actual processing order, but they are building a new UI. They really are on track to make it even more user-friendly. It's like they're listening to some of the common complaints from their customers, or they started to build out what we need or what we are looking for.

We are setting up the Self Service feature right now. That's going to be our biggest list in our organization. We just installed it and went through our training a few weeks ago. My team is building Self Service buttons in our testing environment right now.

What needs improvement?

Enterprise Manager is a little clunky which I know they're addressing in the solution's manager. 

It's annoying that our processes are listed alphabetically. It should be listed in dependency order or order of processing. That's one thing that drives me crazy. That's my biggest issue.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using OpCon since October of 2010.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

They've gone through some changes recently with the owner, but I know that they're on the right track. I feel that they're very stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

They see that there are other competitors out in the market that do what they do. So they want to make sure that they stay relevant and are able to keep up with changing technology. They put a lot of stuff in the new release from 19 to 20. The team has been working really hard to take that stuff into account, like how to future-proof and make this more flexible. I think it's very scalable.

Currently, six of the admin users are me and my team. And we are primary users of OpCon, which means that we are monitoring and setting up. And then we have our Symitar administrative, our core host system administrative who's also involved. We also have our payments team who used to do ACH and draft returns. They are primary users as well.

For deployment, you really only need a couple of people, but I'd like to ensure that my entire team is well trained. You don't necessarily need seven people, if one or two people have a backup is plenty. My team's official title is Computer Operators. They're basically responsible for batch processing and file transfers within the credit union.

Right now 90% of the usage is my team with a small bit with our payments team. So one thing we've been able to do is learn more about the product, go out to our business and see what their needs are. With the new version and the Self Service features, we plan on branching out because Self Service allows business partners not to have to log in to either our core system or the OpCon system, it's through a UI or URL. And so the thought there is that we will be able to branch this out to accounting collections. The payments team has the other items and the card services team as well. There are certain processes in the run in our core and we would like to automate those so that they can just either run automatically or they control when they run them through.

How are customer service and technical support?

We will start with Symitar and sometimes Symitar will refer us back to SMA. They work really well together and we're able to come to a resolution, but sometimes it's both systems in OpCon and Symitar that have an issue.

SMA support is super helpful. They're a great team.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We also looked at DMC. OpCon has a relationship with Symitar. That was a selling point for us because they have a close relationship and they already have several Symitar clients using OpCon and they came with great reviews. DMC had several other core systems that they were automating but Symitar wasn't the main system. So we just felt more comfortable going with SMA.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was pretty straightforward. We had a great team. We had both SMA and Jack Henry, which is our core vendor. They were both on-site. They worked really well together. They were very hands-on in training and had me and my team involved in the whole process.

The deployment took us two weeks. We wanted to implement it in the test first so that we could see how it interacted with our core and our other systems within our network. So that's where we first installed it so that we could do our basic setup and testing. And then once those testing passed, then we set aside some time to set it up in a production environment. Because we obviously didn't just didn't want to gung ho and go back into production.

What about the implementation team?

We use Jack Henry. They are our Symitar, which is our core processor, our integrator.

They told us about SMA because SMA has a relationship with Jack Henry as a core processor. They did a lot of their automation. Jack Henry told us about SMA, which is how I came to bring them on board. Because they had already built a lot of automation for our core processing. They already had a business relationship. 

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

We currently renewed with one of their new technology bundles. It's around $36,000 annually. We run a query of our SQL in our SQL database to see how many jobs we run. They're charging us per usage and whatever add-ons you want to use with OpCon.

What other advice do I have?

My advice would be to ask a lot of questions. Make sure that you involve your entire staff from beginning to end. OpCon was a really easy experience. Having them on-site, sitting next to you with hands-on experience, you can't beat it. They're not hiding anything. I really appreciated the amount of effort that they put into showing up, training, and following through as well. Whenever something did go wrong, they're always there to support you.

We consider OpCon to be one of our tier-one applications, meaning it's almost as critical and important as our core host system. We haven't done any vendor comparisons in ten years because we're very happy with them. 

Typing matters. A lot of what you enter is manually typed. So watch your spacing, watch your fat fingers and copy and paste or copy schedules wherever possible. And then the other trick is eventually you always have a frequency. Those are the few things that I mess up on that really make my whole deployment delayed because I can't find why it's not working and it's always usually because I have an extra space somewhere or character I didn't need. Watch your typing and have a second set of eyes.

I would rate OpCon a ten out of ten. 

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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JoeRocco
Operations Manager at a construction company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Top 20
I've gained back two full-time employees to use in other areas

Pros and Cons

  • "The stability of this solution is awesome. It's the only product I've ever seen that you can actually build to fix itself if it has a problem. You'll build something and, if you find an issue, you can say, 'Hey, if this happens again, do this to correct it.'"
  • "At first, it's a little clunky, but once you learn it, it actually is very simple. You have to get over that initial learning hump."

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case is file movement.

How has it helped my organization?

It cuts down on phone calls from other departments because they can monitor their own work, once we set up their projects.

I've got eight individuals who work for me and, before we had OpCon, I lost about two of them a day to processing our Check 21 files. That whole process is now completely automated. Instead of performing the work, they're just monitoring it through OpCon. I've gained back two full-time employees to use in other areas. Instead of being "button-pushers," they now monitor the processes. Five of my team members, and me, have been through the OpCon training, and they're getting more and more involved every day. They're slowly rolling out some new jobs and learning how to tweak and manage it.

With ACH, I get about a half an FTE back. I haven't had to add anybody to my department, whereas without OpCon, I would have had to add one or two bodies.

In two weeks, OpCon has done 15,677 jobs that an operator would normally have had to do. It has significantly streamlined operations, and it does things right, every time.

What is most valuable?

All of its features are valuable. We use the heck out of it. I just went to a conference and there were only three of us who had our hands raised every time they asked about a different level of OpCon and how we have it deployed.

One of the things we like about it is that you can open it up to other departments so that they can see their own tasks running. We were one of three at that conference that said they had it deployed to other departments.

What needs improvement?

At first, it's a little clunky, but once you learn it, it actually is very simple. You have to get over that initial learning hump.

In addition, right now I've got two servers that are using 2008 and that's holding me up from getting to version 19.0 of OpCon. There are key products that I just can't ignore. I can't just upgrade. I wish SMA could go back a little bit further or give a little bit more support for older software, like 2008. I understand their point: The 2008 software is out of date, technically. But trying to get a vendor to update its application to work with something newer is out of our hands. I wish I didn't need to lock up my whole OpCon because of this process that probably does 600 jobs every two weeks. It's a big process that came in about three years ago and, when it came in, OpCon was key in getting it deployed into our bank. But the latest operating system it works with is 2008. I'm at the point now where I want OpCon 19.0, but I'm held to my current version because of that one application. It would be nice if they had a way that you could upgrade and still work with an older version a little bit longer.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been using this solution for four-and-a-half years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability of this solution is awesome. It's the only product I've ever seen that you can actually build to fix itself if it has a problem. You'll build something and, if you find an issue, you can say, "Hey, if this happens again, do this to correct it."

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scaling is pricey. We've got 20-something servers and six AS/400s tied to it. If I want to add another five servers, it would be pricey. 

We currently have about 40 users. All they're doing is monitoring. Only five operators and I are actually making the changes, adding new procedures, etc.

In terms of increasing usage of OpCon, at the moment we're okay. It just depends on new products that the bank says it wants to buy. Currently, we have enough work for the next five years to get OpCon built and up and running 100 percent.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is awesome every time I call. Now, when I call I'm asking more, "Hey, can I do this?" and they'll say, "Yeah, try this or this." It's really simple and I hang up the phone and away I go. At first, I was on the phone with them for quite a bit, but now I might make a phone call once a month.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We used to use Robot, but that was strictly AS/400. It had a lot of limitations. OpCon is way easier to use than Robot was, and OpCon goes across multiple platforms, which makes it an even better solution.

How was the initial setup?

At the time, I was number two in terms of setting it up. My manager was the key person in rolling it out. I was working to keep the lights on and to keep the business going while he was learning about OpCon and doing the setup. He got let go and it became my responsibility.

My manager worked on it for about one-and-a-half years before he was let go, and at that time we probably had 1,000 jobs running, in total, every two weeks. And out of that, we really didn't have a high success rate. He didn't share some of the key utilities with us so that we could work on it. When he got let go we got the entire, "Here's the product. Do it." We were able to figure out the problems. He had set stuff up initially but he had more test stuff in there than he had production stuff. Once I figured out what he was doing, it didn't take me a week or 10 days to start making changes.

He didn't have it working perfectly, and it took me about two months to correct some of the issues that he had and actually make it worthwhile. Now, I've got myself and five others trained, and it's really doing a lot for us.

We're up around 94 or 95 percent success on jobs that run.

We've done a couple of upgrades, and their upgrades are getting simpler. The more stuff that comes out, the easier it does get.

Given that it's running, eventually I'll have to have one person for each shift just to monitor it. When we do deploy some of the new SLAs and some of the new features that are in 19.0, we will be able to even better manage it. Eventually, someday, we'll be a lights-out organization.

What about the implementation team?

We used OpCon consulting a little bit. We paid OpCon to come in to help us with our ACH. When you're moving millions of dollars, you want it to work right the first time. So we had someone come in from OpCon and he was with us for a week. We got ACH to process about 95 percent through it. We still have a little tweaking to do here and there, but it's doing files every day now.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

We're licensed by the number of servers we have, and as long as we don't increase that, we just pay the maintenance on it. They've got a new pricing model out where you pay for the jobs. But looking at that, we'd pay a lot more than what we're paying today, so we'll just keep adding servers.

The TCO, compared to Robot, is a little bit more expensive, but it goes across many platforms, so we get more bang for our buck.

What other advice do I have?

If anybody were to ask me if they should buy this product, the number one thing I would ask them is, "Do you know operating systems? Do you know DOS?" If you know file structures, etc., this product will be easy. I started back with the old 8088 PCs. You had to do everything you could just to be able to use the computer. This is a great tool to use if you've got that knowledge.

If you are bringing OpCon in, make sure you have somebody who can spend the time on it to get it implemented. Our company brought it in and said, "Here is a tool you can use." They didn't assign any one person to implement it. If that was my only job, I could stay very busy. Part of my problem getting it rolled out is that I'm an operations manager. I'm running a department that is 24/7 and, for the most part, projects that come into the bank are about 90 percent of what I get to do on OpCon.

We still have a long way to go in terms of the number of processes to be automated. We have automated about 10 percent of our jobs, but we have some other factors that are holding us back at the moment. Our core software has just done a big upgrade, which is affecting the way that we use it. OpCon can work with it, but the screens have all changed. The security is being upgraded in our core product and there are going to be new menu options. This is Jack Henry's biggest security change in 20 years. It's called global security. It's supposed to be fully deployed by March of next year. We're still in the process of waiting for that before we can start building day-to-day processes into it, through our core application.

We probably do between 170,000 and 200,000 jobs a year. Some of those jobs take two minutes and some of those jobs take eight hours. We haven't quite got all our time back yet, but we have been working on key applications, trying to free people up to do other things.

Overall, I'd give OpCon 11 out of 10 if you'd let me.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.