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GH
Systems Developer at a financial services firm with 51-200 employees
Real User
Frees up our employees to do more meaningful work

Pros and Cons

  • "Previously, we would receive a file from a vendor, then we would have to go through and make changes to individual accounts in our core system. There are probably between 10 to 20 accounts any given week. It probably took around five minutes for it to run through the report and make all the changes, and that was if there was nothing complicated with all very straightforward changes. Now, that is done in 30 seconds."
  • "What can get complicated is if you're doing anything more than just the built-in jobs. If you're using the more advanced features, troubleshooting becomes extremely complicated."

What is our primary use case?

We own the solution ourselves on-prem, but our core system is cloud-hosted.

It runs all types of jobs to make changes to our database. From our end, we primarily use it to pull and push information to our cloud-hosted system: moving files around, making changes to files, and those types of things.

People use the tool in every job role that we have. Our organization is a financial institution, so we have people in lending, people in member services, people in operations, risk, and marketing. 

How has it helped my organization?

Previously, we would receive a file from a vendor, then we would have to go through and make changes to individual accounts in our core system. There are probably between 10 to 20 accounts any given week. It probably took around five minutes for it to run through the report and make all the changes, and that was if there was nothing complicated with all very straightforward changes. Now, that is done in 30 seconds.

We receive a report once a month of bad email addresses. Someone would have to go through and search each one of those individually, and there was a time when there was 300 email addresses on that list as we were working through putting in tens of thousands of email addresses in our system. As we're working through those on marketing campaigns and getting bounce backs, we've been gradually removing them. That used to take an extremely long time for someone from marketing to go through, search each individual email address, and remove them from all instances and places where it resided in our system, where there could be 10 to 20 on any given account. Since implementing that process, it takes five minutes. Now, it does it all automatically. It looks at every possible location and removes it in all areas. We've been able to clear out that list and completely remove it from the vendor system, so we aren't getting charged for the bounce back.

This solution has freed up our employees to do more meaningful work. Some portion of everyone's job has been automated, and that's probably by two to three hours a week. So, that is 120 employees times two to three hours a week.

The change has all been positive. Employees don't have to do the simple busy work anymore. They are able to spend more time doing the stuff that impacts our members in a positive way.

IT is probably the biggest area of our organization that has seen incredible improvement, since we were the ones doing a lot of the batch jobs and running a lot of the group jobs that would impact multiple accounts. However, every department has had reports automated.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature and reason that we bought the solution is because of the RSJ connector, which we use to make changes to our database. 

What needs improvement?

After attending the pretraining as well as the advanced training that they offer, I would say that the product is very easy to use. What can get complicated is if you're doing anything more than just the built-in jobs. If you're using the more advanced features, troubleshooting becomes extremely complicated.

For how long have I used the solution?

We converted in 2016, so we have been using it for about three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We have had it go down one time, which was not related to the system itself. The server went down, which was an issue on our end. That is not OpCon's fault. Now, the only issue with this, which is OpCon related, was that it didn't send any errors except for one alert, one time. Then, because the server was down, it was unable to send us anything ongoing.

If there was some way that we could set up monitoring on a separate server that would look for specifically OpCon related tasks, then that would be more helpful. But, as for the stability of the system, we have never had it go down that was its own fault.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have automated hundreds of processes, if not thousands, since deploying this solution. We have 120 employees who are impacted by its use. They use the reports that it runs on a daily basis. 

In the terms of people administering it, I am the primary person responsible for setting up new jobs, making sure it's running, doing updates, etc. We also have five other people who may login to do basic troubleshooting on it. I am a systems developer, so I handle the development of OpCon as well as a couple of other systems. As for the other people who can login, we have four people on help desk along with our director of security.

We have not had to scale OpCon beyond the initial setup. We have the controlling server and two others that it is connected to setup. We previously had three, but we moved that third to a cloud-hosted solution. It doesn't matter how many people we have or how big our core system is, we don't need to scale it for that. 

We had some previously automated processes. In the sense, they had to be scheduled manually, but once scheduled, they would run through a list of things. So, that part was already partially automated. At this point, we probably still have 20 percent of our manual processes that cannot be automated because they require someone to go in and physically look at the information. We have maybe five to 10 percent left that can be automated or can be partially automated that haven't yet been.

If we wanted to move it to more servers, e.g. have multiple data centers, then I think it would scale excellently. However, we haven't had to deal with that yet.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support is always excellent. Having a network which can help you troubleshoot and build the best possible system is probably the most valuable thing that I have learned:

  • The value of a network of people working in the same system. E.g., being able to reach out to the support that they have as well as other credit unions, who use the same system.
  • Being able to troubleshoot and discuss different ways to accomplish the same thing. E.g., the different options that they have for moving things around and running things in a different way with all of the different tools that they have to assist you. 

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

We used Windows Scheduler before to automate some general file movements and stuff, but we couldn't do anything within our core system with it.

We switched our core system. Originally, we were using a system provided by Pfizer. We switched to a system provided by Jack Henry & Associates, and they were not compatible with Windows Scheduler. So, we were doing everything manually for a while, until we adopted OpCon. This solution overcomes limitations from our previous automation tool.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward. We set up the original server as well as the ones that we would need it connected to. The basic system has been in place since the initial setup.

We had folks onsite for two weeks, but we have been continuing to automate more new, existing processes over the last three years. So, we had the bulk of our official setup done within three months.

After deploying the solution, it took us 10 minutes to automate our first process. After we got it setup, creating a job is very simple.

In general, getting up and running is extremely easy. Once you get the basics installed, creating and running jobs is very easy. However, when you get into the more complicated, advanced features, then it becomes much more complicated.

What about the implementation team?

We had someone from the SMA team come onsite to help us set up the server. We installed and connected it to the appropriate additional environments. Once we did that, it was completely straightforward. It did help that we had someone come onsite to help us set up some of our more complicated jobs while we were still very new with the system.

Our experience with the SMA team was excellent.

What was our ROI?

We have seen ROI. We are becoming an automation forward organization instead of just a financial institution that does everything manually. We have been able to move so much reporting from paper. We are digital because of OpCon.

We don't have people manually doing processing anymore. The fact that I can do five minutes to three hours of work in 30 seconds is a significant improvement.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

OpCon was the only one that did exactly what we wanted. We needed something that integrated with Jack Henry's Symitar Episys solution. We wanted something that would be easy to set up and maintain, which offered a lot of training.

The biggest difference between OpCon and Windows Scheduler is that Windows Scheduler does not work with our core system. It didn't really work with the old one or the new one. Originally, we were only using it to move files around, so we could have continued to use it in that sense. But, when moving to a new system, we wanted to have something that would interact directly with that system.

OpCon offers a lot more complicated criteria when scheduling the types of jobs that you can run. OpCon is a complete automation solution, where Windows Scheduler is just a scheduler.

What other advice do I have?

Pick the right team and send them to training. So, pick people who are going to invest in and use the system on a daily basis. They should also be curious and creative. Then, send all of them to training, both the free and advanced training. They also offer a certification now, which is also extremely useful.

I would rate the solution as a 10 out of 10.

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.
LM
Manager at a financial services firm with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Top 20
Enabled us to significantly reduce manual touches in our system, but testing automations is difficult

Pros and Cons

  • "The core system is the most valuable part: being able to view the processes that we've never really been able to view as a whole before. That is super-helpful, as is being alerted when issues arise."
  • "The process of getting automations done and the process of testing them is a little complicated."

What is our primary use case?

We're using it to automate our nightly processing work, such as transfers and the actual integrations into our core banking system. We do a lot of file transfers and complicated job processing. We have a lot of processes that have two jobs that have to run before other jobs can run, and based on the output of one job it may need to do one thing or another. OpCon allows us to build complicated workflows that handle all of that.

It performs flawlessly. We were able to go live the first night with zero problems.

How has it helped my organization?

We're able to complete our nightly processing about 10 percent faster. We've also been able to eliminate manual touches on our systems and we're down to five actual touches to make nightly processing go. The ideal is for us to become a "lights-out" organization at nighttime. We're really close to that. Before OpCon, there was a team of five that was doing nightly processing, almost through the night. It's always difficult when you're changing people's processes and you're changing their work, but they've been able to handle the differences in their jobs. Overall, the reception has been positive.

We've automated hundreds of processes since deploying OpCon. We're up to 78 percent automation of nightly processing. Being able to automate the nightly processing is super-useful. It has been streamlined through the process of automation, which is great. The nightly processing is easier.

For daily processing, we haven't seen results yet when it comes to freeing up employees to do more meaningful work, but eventually we will. It's just a matter of getting through the process. Once we get this down we'll be able to free up more people to do more work in different places.

OpCon has also reduced daily processing times; not as much as I would have expected, but that's because we haven't really optimized anything.

What is most valuable?

The core system is the most valuable part: being able to view the processes that we've never really been able to view as a whole before. That is super-helpful, as is being alerted when issues arise.

For example, we've had problems with a vendor that has not been providing files in a timely fashion. OpCon actually alerts our teams that this file has not arrived yet and that allows us to get on the phone with the vendor, make sure we get the file, and get all of that working so that we have accurate records to start with the next morning.

We use SMA as a managed-service provider to actually build automated processes. It makes it easy for us to build work orders for them to execute. That is useful.

What needs improvement?

The process of getting automations done and the process of testing them is a little complicated. Anything with daily processing and nightly processing, which is something that's very critical for our organization, is always going to be tough. The testing of it can be really difficult.

The navigation could use some work to be able to get to the flow charts. Coming from the high level, all I want to see are the flow charts and where we are at with the workflow. Whenever I go in there, I have to remember how to do it again. It's not intuitive, at least for me.

Also, we could not use the FTP agent it has. Their protocol and that piece has been difficult to work with. It has definitely been a little bit weird. They did figure out a way to get to ServiceNow, but having some plug-and-play integrations to different ticketing systems would be good. They've been responsive. They did put together that ServiceNow integration, but they had to build it.

For how long have I used the solution?

We started the OpCon project in January and it went live about five months ago in June.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

OpCon has been incredibly stable. We haven't had any issues with the core OpCon system. It has not died.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We haven't dealt with scalability yet, but I think it would scale relatively well, beyond what we have.

We're continuing our automation process. Any sort of data processing will go through this system. Once we're done with that, then we get to look at anything else that could work with it. That's our plan.

How are customer service and technical support?

Tech support is amazingly responsive. We've had multiple times where they've responded within 20 minutes when we've had an issue with a workflow at night. I've been happy with that.

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

I've used many automation tools in my career and the time to implement OpCon, compared to some of those other tools, is about the same. This is a specialized job-automation tool, instead of a generic automation tool. The way it works is a little bit more job-like than some of the other automation tools. That's really the difference between OpCon and a full-blown orchestrator-type of tool, like Automation Anywhere. It's important to keep those separate and use OpCon for what it's good for and other tools when you need things to be a little bit more diverse.

Other job-automation tools are not specific to credit unions and financials. There are some hooks that OpCon has that other tools don't, which is why credit unions go to them.

Tidal Workload Automation sits in between OpCon and full orchestrator tools. It's not as fully functional as some of those big automation toolsets, but it does some things very well.

The total cost of ownership of OpCon is quite comparable to other automation tools I've used. For a financial institution, in particular, OpCon makes a lot of sense. We're replacing another tool, Automic, that would have been comparable. There are certain things you can't do in Automic, or it's costly to do.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is complex. The first pieces of it, while they weren't really easy, went off well. When we got into the FTP processing, it got a little bit more bumpy. The deployment, overall, was an iterative process. We started in January and went live with the first step in June.

It was pretty easy to put our first processes together. It was just a matter of making sure they were fully tested and that we had the right test environment to make it work.

We have about five people who are working on it right now, since our deployment is ongoing.

I would like to have seen a little bit more of a plan at the beginning. SMA should have been guiding us through the process of automating these things in the most efficient way possible.

What was our ROI?

It's going to reduce the time that data processing takes, certainly. We're also going to see a quality improvement, meaning fewer human errors. I expect we'll see a meaningful difference in another year or so.

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

It's not cheap. It's a licensing system. It costs money to put it in and it's a subscription-based system. The managed service costs money on top.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked into a tool called Jantz, which is a competitor. They're great as well. But this made the most sense financially, considering our size.

What other advice do I have?

The biggest lesson I've learned from using it is plan really well. Line up your resources and don't be afraid to do a big cut-over to it. It's a stable system. But definitely be cognizant of the fact that there are agents involved, and whenever you have agents involved you need to make sure that the agents continue to be stable.

Consider how well you understand the processes that you're looking to automate. This is going to work the best if you have more traditional types of automations that you need to do, like batches. Make sure that you've already detailed what those processes do, because the more detail you have, the quicker you can actually get to automating the work. And make sure you have complete buy-in by everybody in the organization.

When people are working with the SMA product teams it's really important for both sides to be really clear on what the testing scenarios are like. You need to make sure you're really good at writing your work orders in an accurate fashion and recognize that, as a credit union, or any sort of enterprise, you've got things that you need to do as well to make it work. Any time you deal with agents that are sitting on multiple systems it's going to be problematic because you're always going to have agents that fall apart or something happens to them. Keeping on top of that type of thing is important in order to be successful.

It's not easy to do. I've never seen these types of things be easy. You need to put a lot of effort into it. It requires working a lot with the teams who have some of these processes, who need these types of files, to make sure that everything you automate works and that the output works for them. It definitely isn't simple to implement.

In our organization, there are about 200 people who specifically work with these types of things.

I would rate OpCon at seven out of 10. It's taken a little bit longer than we thought to get it done, but the team on their side has been great.

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: November 2021.
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MF
Core Application Programming Manager at a financial services firm with 201-500 employees
Real User
Top 20
Replaced a mess of paper schedules and freed up employees to focus on the important aspects of their jobs

Pros and Cons

  • "It's very scalable. Right now we're barely scratching the surface of what it can do. I've looked at Symitar's instance of OpCon and they're running something like 13,000 jobs a day with all the clients that they have. So it can go from small use cases like ours to enterprise-level."
  • "It would be nice to go to a fully thin client."

What is our primary use case?

We use OpCon for job automation for our core financial software. The majority of it is pushing files between vendors and our core, for processing, marketing mailers, and reports. We also have their Self Service software, so employees can kick off a job manually and it fires off certain jobs in our core. It then pushes and pulls files and sends them off to vendors. It could be processing file maintenance. There are a whole host of things that we use it for.

We're on Symitar's cloud software, EASE, and they have their own OpCon that our OpCon, on-premise, talks to.

Before we migrated to EASE, we were running about 2,000 to 3,000 unique jobs a month. Now, we're running about 1,500 unique jobs a month or about 300 jobs a day.

How has it helped my organization?

When we first got the solution in 2009, we were on-premise for our core vendor as well. We had two operators, full-time positions, who would run our Good-Night. Over time, probably within a year or so, both of the operators retired and we didn't have to hire new staff. So it replaced those FTEs.

We used to have to process all the ACH warehouse items manually. Now, with EASE and OpCon, it's just done through notifications and all we do have to do is correct exceptions on a daily basis. That's allowed us to be more "deep-disaster-recovery" ready. Personnel don't have to be onsite to do that now, they can do it remotely.

We definitely have been able to repurpose employees and free up a lot of the busy work and let them focus on the important parts of their jobs. I would say 30 to 40 employees have impacted over the years. They have reacted very positively. Our queue is always full of new ideas about what to implement. The well is deep in terms of what we can do with OpCon. It's just getting the man-hours to automate.

We're 10 years into the software. It's hard to gauge how it has affected our data processing times, year-over-year. But at first, kicking off jobs and scheduling jobs was entirely manual and we had all these different holiday schedules we had to keep track of. It was just a mess of paper that our operators would use. OpCon was able to just have all those frequencies built to the point where we can just review them on a daily basis. At that time, it improved things almost 100 percent.

What is most valuable?

  • Being able to automate jobs and have a central location where we can see how the day is progressing.
  • Getting alerted when something fails, and be able to escalate that with our employees.

Those are the most valuable features for us.

Also, while there's a learning curve to get your mind around how their schedules, jobs, and frequencies of the jobs operate, it's a pretty fast tool to learn. There's a lot of depth to it, so you can really get down in the weeds and become an expert in it. It's a fast learning curve. It took about a month to be able to get a pulse-check and see where we were at in jobs. Being able to create and modify jobs and schedules takes about three months, tops, to be able to do them comfortably. You could probably do it from the onset, but it's always shaky learning something like that.

What needs improvement?

I know they're getting ready to remove the thick client. It would be nice to go to a fully thin client.

Also, it takes something of a learning curve to learn the interface. Some of it isn't quite as intuitive as it should be. They definitely have roadmap items that they're working on to improve that.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been using OpCon since 2009.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I would rate the stability high, with our situation. They've got a lot of baked-in support with Symitar and they're very much a VIP partner in how we run our business.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It's very scalable. Right now we're barely scratching the surface of what it can do. I've looked at Symitar's instance of OpCon and they're running something like 13,000 jobs a day with all the clients that they have. So it can go from small use cases like ours to enterprise-level.

How are customer service and technical support?

Their standard technical support is very helpful. They're very quick to respond. They're quick to set up a WebEx and look at a problem. I've never had any problems with getting support from them, both technically and from Professional Services.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was pretty complex. By nature, it was complex. They had to sit down with us for a few weeks and go over how we ran our jobs. We were building that into OpCon and verifying it, and we were doing that while learning the software. It was a lot to take it on, but they were with us every step of the way and they answered all our questions. From an implementation standpoint, I don't think it could have gone better. They also had staff present from Symitar, our core, so it was like a hand-in-hand operation.

The implementation took about a month.

At first, there were a lot of meetings over the phone to go over how our infrastructure was set up and to outline all the different jobs and processes we were doing. They had different experts that we talked with to set up each part of OpCon. It was many meetings and then, onsite, it was a full week to get us ready to go.

What about the implementation team?

We consulted with OpCon's staff onsite. 

Our experience with them during the deployment process was great. They were very helpful, very friendly. There wasn't a stupid question that we could ask. They were quick to answer and provide us reference material. 

And over the years, they've been that way. We occasionally contract hours with them if we want to do something that's a little bit more complex than our staff can handle. They're very patient over the phone. They always offer onsite consultants as well, for a fee, but their remote consultants are great. We always buy contract hours, dedicated support, when we want to add something new. That's not to fix something that's busted.

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

On a yearly basis our cost is between $25,000 and $30,000. I don't know if our contract is different from what a new client would get, but we have unlimited users with our Self Service. That gives us a lot more scalability. We can spin up different machines and different servers all over our network.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I wasn't involved in the discussions, but I don't know of too many solutions that would have the same level of features. OpCon is the only one that I know of that has a connector to the EASE environment.

What other advice do I have?

My advice is to set aside as many resources as you can — personnel and time — to make sure that your implementation goes smoothly. Involve everybody in your organization who might find a use for it. Also, have a good communication plan for when you implement it so that people know that things are changing and, if there are issues, who to contact. And make sure you have staff trained and ready to put out any fires. If you don't have the staff, then make sure to set aside budget items to have OpCon Professional Services ready to go, after the fact.

The biggest lesson I have learned from using OpCon is what's possible. It's still a learning curve even after 10 years. You hear what people are doing, at conferences, and you didn't even think that that was something that could be done. Recently I heard about a situation where a credit union wanted to monitor social media. They had a use case where they could set up an Azure listener that would go out there and aggregate anytime somebody mentioned that credit union, and then it would pull in the comments. Then, it would build a report that would go off to the credit union's marketing department. That way it could escalate. If someone said something negative, they could respond quickly.

Automation is a work-in-progress. There's always room to automate. You get a lot of people who are a little nervous when we approach their department and ask for automation ideas because they don't want to be automated out of a job. But every year we tackle new processes. There are some things that are still done on paper, here at the credit union, things that are hard to give up.

OpCon has features that we haven't had time to even use, so I'd say we're happy with where they're at when it comes to the feature set.

In IT, there are three programmers and I who use it at a high level. There are another 15 to 20 people who use it with the Self Service portal, where they can fire off a job manually that we set up. We have 350 employees and most of the stuff is behind the scenes for the departments. It's like the plumbing in the wall. They don't really see it, but they know they can turn the faucet on and get water.

I would rate OpCon a 10 out of 10. I'm very pleased with the product.

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.
JL
Engineer at CONSEIL DÃPARTEMENTAL 83
Real User
Top 20
It has improved our scripts by making them more reliable and precise

Pros and Cons

  • "I have been pleased with the support that we can get from the European partners. I think they are very good. All the time, when we have a question, they have an answer. It is very reassuring to have that support every day. Then, you can concentrate on your job and OpCon is just there to work. For us, it's perfect."
  • "It was hard to automate in the beginning because there were a lot of concepts. I had to learn a lot of things, as I never used such a software before. I learned a lot of the concepts and ideas behind it in the beginning."

What is our primary use case?

It is designed to schedule jobs everyday. We now have 750 automated processes.

Primarily, we use it for everyday jobs spread out among all our IT. Apart from all the benefits that we have from OpCon, the biggest advantage is having a centralized point to check everything happening under IT. Mostly, it is for scheduled tasks, not manual tasks.

How has it helped my organization?

A year ago, we had an issue with our financial software and another software. While the two tools were still working together, we were not able to find a solution to manage night jobs without OpCon. We found a definitive solution because we have jobs running during the night. Without OpCon, we would have not been able to make all our jobs work. After five years, it's hard to remember what OpCon wrote because it has changed our everyday jobs. 

The solution has streamlined a lot of our operations. Seven years ago, our everyday tasks were manual with their scripts. After four or five years, this was not so really reliable. The way OpCon is built, it has helped us to improve our scripts, making them more reliable and precise. It was easier for us to assure our colleagues that everything is working. Our everyday view is more precise now. We know precisely what is running and what will be running for our IT. OpCon helps for when we have to manage a shutdown for our systems, which happens once a year, by improving the way we prepare for our shutdowns.

What is most valuable?

When we have a problem with a job or something else, I always tell my colleagues, "It's not OpCon, it has to be something else." All the time, it is something else. So, we are very pleased with OpCon and how it works. It is really reliable. For us, that is a major point: reliability. 

We are also very pleased with its reports for jobs every day. We don't use monthly or weekly reports. Though there are some requests in the tool for these, we don't use them a lot. To follow our everyday jobs, it's perfect.

What needs improvement?

The web version has room for improvement. I am still waiting for full web administration in OpCon. While the web part is not the tool that I use every day. My colleagues use the web version, which is great because it is much easier to give them access to OpCon. They can check their jobs way more easily. Overall, the administration of the website could be better, but for everyday life, it's great.

It was hard to automate in the beginning because there were a lot of concepts. I had to learn a lot of things, as I never used such a software before.I learned a lot of the concepts and ideas behind it in the beginning. Now, I find it much easier to create jobs and schedules. I can manage it. I helped other people internally to get access to OpCon after five years of not really having problems with the tool.

For how long have I used the solution?

We started using it five years ago.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

OpCon is really reliable. We take a lot of value from OpCon. It has improved our everyday jobs by a lot.

There are two people needed for OpCon's maintenance because we want a full backup when one of us is not in the office.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We don't scale because we have just one server. We use it with virtual servers, so we have full backup of our database. Because we can miss jobs and it is not a big problem for us, we don't really need a backup server for OpCon.

There are two people working right now on everyday jobs with OpCon. Five of our colleagues use OpCon to check all the jobs being worked on. They check the logs to see if there is something wrong. We have two people assigned for the scheduler, five for everyday operations, and around 20 people who check the jobs to ensure that they work during the night. They are just looking for reason codes or through the logs. They don't do anything apart from making warnings around possible problems. If it's a big problem, it come backs to my colleague or me to correct.

All the people using the solution are part of the IT team.

How are customer service and technical support?

I have been pleased with the support that we can get from the European partners. I think they are very good. All the time, when we have a question, they have an answer. It is very reassuring to have that support every day. Then, you can concentrate on your job and OpCon is just there to work. For us, it's perfect. 

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

It was used to replace chrome.tabs or Windows Task Scheduler.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was a bit complex, but we had great support which helped a lot. I made a lost of mistakes in the beginning, so I learned the hard way. But now, I think I manage OpCon quite well. We aren't make beginner's mistakes now. OpCon used to be quite difficult but there was a lot to learn.

All the ideas and concepts behind the solution can be difficult to understand. E.g., I hadn't used a scheduler before. This was the first time. But, we had a lot of help, so it was okay. I tried to learn it myself using trial and error. This was quite a good way to learn and understand how it works.

The full deployment was around one year because I didn't want to move everything since nothing would have worked afterward. So, we took our time and did our mistakes, which was really important. After one year, we were fully operational. Our IT moved during that time, so some jobs needed to be canceled or removed and new software needed to be included in OpCon. By the time we had OpCon, all the new jobs were included. We talked with software editors and told them we had a scheduler to run jobs daily.

Every new software is included in OpCon, so it just works. All my colleagues know it's there and rely on it.

Our initial implementation strategy was to start big, but we went slowly. We took the biggest server that includes our biggest data and started to process those jobs. We took time to look at whether the solution was working and to correct our mistakes. After one month, the server was fully integrated with OpCon. We had monthly schedules, so we had to wait for one month to have everything run. So, it took one month for our first big steps.

After that, it was easy to incorporate all other tasks and jobs. Most of the time, it just took time because we had to rewrite the scripts behind the jobs. In the beginning, OpCon worked, but the scripts had to be improved. Therefore, we took time to rewrite them, making them more reliable and able to work with OpCon's written codes. We made great efforts to use the same way to write our scripts. Thus, it took time, not only for the jobs, but for the scripts behind it.

The first day that OpCon was working we had our first job working on it.

What about the implementation team?

I'm very pleased with the people who came onsite to install the product the first and second times. We waited almost five years to move to the version that we have now. The people who came to help us with the installation were very helpful and precise. They added a huge value.

What was our ROI?

As a regional organization, we don't keep track of ROI.

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

Our license is for 1000 jobs. Including support, the license and upgrades are 2000 euros a month.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I think we had contact with Parallel Universe and two other products. This was six years ago. We took around six or seven months to make our choice. What was important in our choice was being able to have a contact with people who are working in the exact area as us. So, we were able to go and watch what OpCon did for them, which was very good and important for our choice.

We were convinced by the product to choose it, but we were able to go and see what a client was doing. They confirmed what people from OpCon told us, which was great. Every company can say, "Our support is great. Our product is great." Everybody will say that. However, when a customer says it, then it's way more important.

Our original requirements were what OpCon can do. We don't have big systems. We have only Windows, Microsoft software, and a couple of Linux systems at the time. Now, we have more Linux. We wanted a scheduler that could be moved to a platform, and OpCon was able to do that. We wanted something that was reliable with good support, and I think we found it.

What other advice do I have?

If you are looking into implementing OpCon, go for it.

Scheduling is a proper job. You have to learn a lot.

I would rate OpCon as a nine (out of 10). 

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.
TT
Computer Operations Manager at a financial services firm with 501-1,000 employees
Real User
Top 20
Simple to use and allows us to schedule jobs with varying frequencies while preventing manual errors

Pros and Cons

  • "The greatness of it is the flexibility of the scheduling and the integration of all platforms and processes. We have integrated it with everything from AIX to Microsoft Servers; with pretty much anything that we can."
  • "Some additional logging-information reporting would also help. They have all the information there but you still have to search around and look back. It's not right there for you, where you click and can get the reporting. You have to know the system and do some additional searches. So reporting is another area that they can build on by simplifying it."

What is our primary use case?

We use it for batch job automation and batch processing automation.

How has it helped my organization?

It has reduced our manual processing times by a good 75 percent. We had over 500 processes a day, since we process jobs for over 40 clients. We were able to automate all that.

OpCon has definitely freed up our resources and allowed us to continue to bring in more clients without adding additional FTEs. Because we are a 24/7 operation, we have 13 employees. We have doubled our client volume without doubling our employees.

As far as streamlining, goes, the scheduling allows us to schedule jobs with different frequencies, and it prevents manual errors and eliminates keystrokes.

What is most valuable?

All of it is valuable. We've been very successful with it and really reduced our manual keystrokes and manual errors. The greatness of it is the flexibility of the scheduling and the integration of all platforms and processes. We have integrated it with everything from AIX to Microsoft Servers; with pretty much anything that we can.

The product is easy to use and it's simple to automate processes. It's a GUI interface. You don't require any special programming skills to use it.

What needs improvement?

If there is anything that needs improvement, it would be the file watcher. That could probably be simplified and easier to configure. To configure the file watcher you have to have a good understanding of OpCon. If they could improve the process of how it looks for a file, as well as the configuring, that would help.

Some additional logging-information reporting would also help. They have all the information there but you still have to search around and look back. It's not right there for you, where you click and can get the reporting. You have to know the system and do some additional searches. So reporting is another area that they can build on by simplifying it. 

Another area for our improvement is the upgrade process. We continue to need to bring in SMA OpCon to perform upgrades. If they simplified that and give more direction to the clients for performing upgrades, that would be good.

But other than that, we've been really happy with the product.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been using OpCon for over five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It has been a very solid system for us. We really haven't experienced a long period of downtime. And when there were issues, SMA support was able to come in and resolve them immediately.

There hasn't been a problem with the whole system, but there were certain releases that created problems. We got a temporary workaround from SMA. But it was nothing major or something that kept us down or made us divert to manual processing.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have been going from release to release with them and they've continued to add features and improvements. They have also added on products. So I think they are on track. They really have a solid system and I have confidence that they will continue to scale and bring in more features for our automation.

How are customer service and technical support?

Their technical support is excellent. There have been several times where I have had to reach out to them and they responded immediately. They always have the answers to my questions and come up with solutions. I haven't had an incident where anything was extended over a long period of time. They have definitely been very helpful and knowledgeable.

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

Autobatch was one of the solutions I used previously. It was a free product that we downloaded, and then someone wrote some scripts. We didn't get to the point of purchasing it. OpCon is more of a high-end product. You get what you pay for. I don't know how we would continue to grow our operation without the help of OpCon.

The limitations in Autobatch which OpCon overcame are due to OpCon's ease-of-use and the configuration. I wouldn't have been able to train my team to start building jobs on the other solution if they didn't have a good technical background. With OpCon, it's much simpler.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward.

When we first started, the deployment took about one week, and that includes training from SMA OpCon as well as Jack Henry Symitar. After that, all the upgrades take about two days.

Many of the other solutions I've used require a lot of scripting and coding. OpCon is more a GUI interface and I was able to get a lot of my team training on this with ease, without sending them to any classes. A lot of my team members can build jobs, from simple to complex, with SMA OpCon, without going to any additional classes.

It's very efficient and straightforward to implement a new job. If I get a request today, I can do it within the hour and have it ready to run. That's how simple it is. I don't need four hours' advanced notice. We started deploying things ourselves immediately after training. They came in and trained us, created some sample jobs for us, and we took the sample jobs and were able to recreate them. We just followed the steps and started applying them. That feature, where we can copy one job to another, is great.

As for our implementation strategy, we have a live system and we had a test system, so we built two systems. We started to build the schedule and the jobs on pre-prod system. Once everything was tested we went live, and we kept the test system for any other testing that we might need to do. Eventually, we got rid of the test system because we were able to do everything on the live system. We're able to test a job — not actually run it, but test it — before we deploy it.

What about the implementation team?

When the SMA technicians came onsite during the initial deployment, our experience with them was good. They were very knowledgeable. They had a good understanding of the system and they gave us very good pointers. They were very efficient and on-schedule. The whole implementation process was seamless and very smooth.

What was our ROI?

We have definitely seen a return on our investment with OpCon. As I mentioned, we have doubled our client base without needing to increase our workforce. 

We are able to take on additional projects. Our operators are not just running batch jobs, they're monitoring batch jobs and it has allowed us to use them as resources for other things. They have been happy to be assigned to other projects, and they also like to learn more about OpCon. They enjoy building the jobs and doing the automation.

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

The pricing is over $100,000 for our credit union and I believe it's $89,000 for our clients, in total, annually.

There are additional costs with some of the upgrades. When we need to do upgrades, we will have Professional Services help and we have to pay for that. But the cost is maybe a few hundred dollars. Upgrades usually require two to four hours of their time.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I've used other job schedulers before and the flow of the automation wasn't that efficient, where OpCon's is easy. It's a lot of drag-and-drop. You can copy one schedule to another. You can copy one job to another. It's very easy to use and does not require heavy, intensive knowledge of OpCon.

There wasn't much else out there, at the time, for our core system. OpCon partnered with Jack Henry Symitar, so it was a product that was recommended by the maker of our core system. We didn't really do a search for an automation vendor. We were using one that was out there for free and when the opportunity came for OpCon, with the right pricing for our budget, we took advantage of that. Since then, we've been on OpCon.

What other advice do I have?

What I have learned from using OpCon is that everything is possible within OpCon. Each time we have a new process, that's what we look at first. We try to build everything around the automation.

You will definitely see the efficiency and improvement in your day-to-day operations by using OpCon. My advice would be, during the implementation, to try to build as many sample jobs as possible so that you can reuse them.

OpCon is now managed by my computer operation team. Right now don't share it out to other users. We use it to automate our batch processing for over 40 credit unions that we support. When I say support, that means we do their core processing, their batch processing.

In terms of deployment of upgrades and maintenance of the solution, it's normally just one or two of my team members, or myself, working with SMA's support. They come in and we work with them and we get the upgrade completed and then we go live.

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.
PhilippeLLORET
Manager Applications Operation Group at Groupama Supports et Services
Real User
Top 10
Scheduling functionality enables us to optimize jobs and reduce the number of jobs

Pros and Cons

  • "One of the advantages of OpCon is the ability to use the API and web services. We couldn't do that with our previous solution. We have been able to change our procedure for ticketing. When a job is down, we can immediately create a ticket from OpCon in our ticketing solution, which is ServiceNow, using the web services."
  • "I would like to see them improve the Solution Manager for the web application. It's the future for us. Our customers need a lot of functionality, but there isn't that functionality within Solution Manager. So they have to develop and improve it."

What is our primary use case?

We started using the OpCon product with a contract management application doing migration between Dollar Universe and the OpCon solution. The first time we used the OpCon product for scheduling programs we had around 7,000 jobs running on this application. Today, we have around 41,000 jobs per day. We have around 4,000 host computers in production and we have 618 applications running on the solution.

We have migrated about 90 percent of our information systems to OpCon. We have to finish the project and finalize the migration for the remaining 10 percent or less.

How has it helped my organization?

OpCon has streamlined our operations. With OpCon, we have reduced the number of jobs by about 17 percent and we have execution times running on a schedule. It's a good way for optimizing and automating the scheduling of our programs.

One of the advantages of OpCon is the ability to use the API and web services. We couldn't do that with our previous solution. We have been able to change our procedure for ticketing. When a job is down, we can immediately create a ticket from OpCon in our ticketing solution, which is ServiceNow, using the web services.

What is most valuable?

One of the valuable features is that we are able to automatically manage problems with jobs. The system automatically tries to restart jobs when things go down. That's a good way for us to quickly manage and resolve all problems automatically, without creating tickets.

It is really different than the product we used before, Dollar Universe. The interface of OpCon is really modern and fluid and simple to use. It's really a framework for the user who doesn't see all the complexity behind the product. We have a lot of functionality with the product that we didn't have before. All our users find it simple to use and, after working with it a few times, it does not take them long to know how to use it. We've had no difficulties using the product.

And the web solution, Solution Manager, enables easy access to the application to quickly see if we have problems with our programs. Immediately, with its color code, we know if all is okay or if we have a problem. The web interface is really simple to use and we can put it on a screen on our desks and look. It's really useful for us. When we click on the screen we can immediately see which job is the problem that we have to analyze or restart. It's really easy to identify that and to restart or go quickly to the problem, without having to find or analyze where the problem is. It's efficient for us.

What needs improvement?

I would like to see them improve the Solution Manager for the web application. It's the future for us. Our customers need a lot of functionality, but there isn't that functionality within Solution Manager. So they have to develop and improve it.

The visualization module needs to be more open for parameters, such as the color of the job status information. For example, when a job is canceled, the color on the visualization module appears as orange and we can't change that color with a parameter. We can't decide, for example, to display the jobs that were canceled in green. I'm expecting from SMA that they will create parameters and give us the opportunity to choose the colors we want for job statuses.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been using it for two years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We didn't have any problems for the first few weeks. When we got to a big volume of jobs, we started to have some response delay. We called SMA's French support and U.S. support to analyze our problem. SMA's solution was that there was a difficulty with the large history. We hadn't deleted and had too many days in history. We had to purge some history and close some days. Today, we do that regularly and it's okay for us now. We have a good response time from the product.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Whenever we upgrade the solution we have support to help us, and we have never had great difficulty in upgrading the system. It is not a difficulty for us today. 

We have not hit the limits of the product. We have a lot of new projects starting on OpCon to develop new scheduling programs. We don't use OpCon for only part of our information system. We use OpCon for our entire information system. OpCon is used for all our scheduling jobs.

How are customer service and technical support?

A really big change for us was that SMA has French support in Europe. That's a big advantage for us because we are not all fluent in English. And they are open night and day. Whenever we call, we always get support. Support is really good.

One of the good things we have found with SMA is that we have a partnership. They really help us and we are working with them. We really want to optimize the product and give them suggestions for new functionality that we need. We help them to develop it and to optimize the product. They work interactively with us and are quick to develop the functionality for developing our business.

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

We used Dollar Universe.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is really easy. Installing the product is not really difficult.

For all our infrastructure development, integration, pre-production, production, training — for the whole environment — it took about six months, including specifying all the parameters and starting the product, doing the pilot migration, testing the application after migration, and moving it to production. The first migration started immediately after we finished configuring the product.

What about the implementation team?

We had a contract with SMA for support and to help us do the first migration of the pilot application, which was contract management. After we finished configuring the product's parameters, testing the product, and doing the migration on this pilot application, we managed the migrations alone, with SMA's support if we had difficulties doing something or needed help to optimize the product.

What was our ROI?

We have seen ROI. In the first year, we paid less than the previous solution and, with OpCon, we have reduced the number of incidents and we have an improved quality of service for our customers.

There is also less cost for our teams to analyze and deal with program scheduling. We haven't needed more people to explore the solution. We can have fewer people and do other things. We can invest in projects and not just in running activities.

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

It costs less than our previous solution, Dollar Universe. We pay annual maintenance but we don't pay anything additional until we hit a certain number of jobs per day.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

In 2016 we started to analyze different solutions in the marketplace. We had meetings with vendors of a lot of solutions, with demonstrations, and we evaluated every product. At the end of the analysis, we chose three solutions. We then met with customers using those solutions. Only then did we choose the SMA solution. It's a more complete solution for us and more open and scalable for our needs.

We evaluated the IBM solution, the Automic solution, a French product, and so on. There were other solutions too, but those were the main solutions we analyzed.

What other advice do I have?

Start with a lot of training and develop a good familiarity with the functionality of the product. Do that before starting development on OpCon. Normalize the codification of the schedule of the jobs. Write that clearly and define the rules to develop the objects before starting with OpCon. That is very important because if you start to develop immediately in the product, without doing that phase of analysis and normalization of the codes, you will have difficulties.

We have a team of about 10 people whose job it is to create the scheduling programs. And we have another five external people to reinforce that team. For everyday exportation of the project and all our schedules, we have about 16 people. They schedule jobs and analyze issues or responses from our clients for building jobs.

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.
Tom Gibson
IT Analyst I at REDWOOD CREDIT UNION
Real User
Top 20
Easily scalable with excellent technical support and good stability

Pros and Cons

  • "Last year, we added a second environment and the OpCon Deploy product. This has allowed us to build a testing environment. This has been a great addition for us as we can work through our workflows without disrupting our production environment."
  • "Upgrading to newer versions remains complex."

What is our primary use case?

We primarily use OpCon to manage daily activities, generate reports, and handle FTP jobs for our full-service credit union.

How has it helped my organization?

OpCon improves our daily operations by automating many manual functions. OpCon's ability to run jobs in our host system allows us to create simple, effective automation that requires minimal employee interaction - thus helping improve our efficiency and reducing errors. We also use it for many other systems and also to trigger various scripts such as PowerShell and Python.

The automation of manual tasks using OpCon has reduced human error. In any place that we implement OpCon Automation, it removes the ability for inputting something incorrectly, and/or it will throw out an error. If we are asking for input, if they put it in incorrectly, it doesn't then attempt to run the process. It stops and says, "You did this wrong." We have that ability to kind of put those parameters in there as opposed to entering something incorrectly and then not finding out about it until the next day like, "Oh shoot, we updated a parameter and we missed a zero." OpCon definitely gives us a better feel for that. We have on my self-service alone probably 40 jobs in here. Then in our daily list running, we have over a hundred schedules running different things on a day-to-day basis. So I don't know how I can quantify how much it's reduced but it's over 50%.

OpCon has saved time for our IT team overall. In just over the years that we've done it, we keep adding new things to it. As an example, we're getting better at writing scripts that we can then execute with OpCon to alert us to various things that might be happening either in a host system or something like that. Thereby that then reduces research time to try to figure out when something went wrong. You can get a little bit deeper into it if you start using the advanced failure criteria where you can then have it so that you can say, "Hey, if you see this exit code, do this." Doing a little job output parsing, finding some different ways to push out notifications that let us know that something's gone wrong well in advance of a department coming back to us and saying, "Hey, this report didn't print the way we wanted." Or, "This process seems to be off." It definitely reduces the time that we spend looking into these projects or into these problems.

With IT time freed up, our organization has been able to move forward with other business needs. The company is learning that the ability to automate some of these things is freeing up time. Even if we're doing short-term stuff, for example with the PPP loans, the loans that financial institutions were giving out to businesses during the pandemic to help out. There's a ton of work and paperwork that goes along with that. I've been working with them to help them build some automation so that to flag loans on particular loans for particular reasons, or to pull data to send to our main house, to send out letters. That's a small example of what we're working on there.

OpCon increased our organization's overall productivity. It's hard to quantify it from my position in a company of 758 people. I don't have the statistics for all the other departments.

What is most valuable?

Last year, we added a second environment and the OpCon Deploy product. This has allowed us to build a testing environment. This has been a great addition for us as we can work through our workflows without disrupting our production environment. 

Our users use the self-service features. We have a number of them set up and their self-services are actually called Solution Manager. My accounting group uses it and my payments group probably uses it the heaviest. A lot of times we use it for daily postings, either GL postings or we have various different payroll postings that the payments group has to process based on some accounting groups that we work with and things like that, that have to be done a little bit separately than the regular payroll postings that we do. That's just the tip of the iceberg, I do have it set up for a few other groups just to do things like upload or actually transfer files via FTP to other vendors. It's a one-step process where they've created a file and that file needs to be consumed in some way, either via our host system or sent out to a vendor.

The self-service feature reduces the complexity of the technical aspects of workload automation. We've been using OpCon since 2012. Being able to give somebody a self-service button that they can press to consume a file to run a process within our host system was a huge advantage. Before, somebody had to go into the host system, run a particular batch job, manually type some things in that could also then be typed in incorrectly and create problems. It's taken a lot of steps away from what used to be a very manual process. People in other departments are not always technically minded like we are in IT, it helps them to focus on what their job is as opposed to having to do their job and then understand how to run this whole major IT process.

The self-service feature definitely increased our user's productivity. I can remember when we had an eight-page checklist that we had to go down each item and run each of these, "Step one, do this. Step two, do that." And when we brought OpCon and that clearly reduced all of that daily having to go through a checklist. We actually had one person in IT, and their job for the day was to run the checklist. Once we went to OpCon automation, whether self-service or just fully automating some things, it reduced that checklist to basically nothing at this point.

What needs improvement?

Upgrading to newer versions remains complex. I am not sure if this can be streamlined however, as when the enterprise needs to be updated, typically, all associated agents throughout the environment also need to be updated. Also, all agents, connectors, etc. all need to be on the same version for compatibility. Good documentation of your environment as it grows is very important.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been using OpCon since 2012.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

OpCon is a very stable enterprise. We have had very few downtime issues.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Due to the fact that OpCon works with Windows and UNIX commands, it can be expanded into many areas along with embedding PowerShell scripts, etc. We continue to find new ways to utilize OpCon.

How are customer service and support?

I have worked closely with many technicians at SMA and all have been excellent and committed to finding solutions that work.

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

OpCon is an expensive and complex solution that will take time to learn. However, once it is in place, it removes many manual processes throughout the organization. It would be best to start small with the some of the main functions first and then build up from there.  

What other advice do I have?

We do not currently use OpCon's Vision features. Mainly because I've been doing it for so long and I learned through the older enterprise manager, that's where I spend most of my time. I do know that SMA has made a point of really moving the operational side of OpCon to their URL and more into the Solution Manager, which would then force us to really start using the Vision more.

It's like any other enterprise system, as they grow and we move things more to a more visual GUI type interface, then you kind of have to just grow with however the vendor grows. I'm looking at Vision like, "Do I really look at this? No." I don't even know if this is connected. We're not really set up for Vision yet so it's probably a while. It's down the road before we start using this.

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.
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SE
IS Operations Manager at a financial services firm with 201-500 employees
Real User
Enables us to give our business users a level of self-service and automation for themselves

Pros and Cons

  • "Since we got it configured, it has just done the job day in, day out. Being able to rely on it and know that it's going to happen, whether there's a person over it or not, is really good."
  • "I might like to see a little bit more of a seamless user interface. That would be good. They're moving towards a browser-type interface, rather than the Java application that we currently use. Also, a little bit more built-in self-service would be good, rather than a standalone product."

What is our primary use case?

We have it running batch processing across our mainframe and Windows Server environments. OpCon also integrates with a third-party SFTP tool and through that we have OpCon driving all of our file transfers as well.

We've automated hundreds of processes with OpCon, representing a good 80 percent of our processing.

How has it helped my organization?

One thing that we had to introduce about three years ago in our bank was exchanging high volume monetary files with other banks on a mission critical hourly basis. We would start doing the exchange at about 9.30 a.m. every day and it would go through until 2 a.m. the following morning. It was very time-driven. Our customers were heavily reliant on it because it was money that was coming to fund their accounts. OpCon allowed us to fully automate the process, right down to when it went wrong for any reason, it would alert us. Rather than having to employ three staff members to manage the process over the period, it just runs. It tells us what has gone wrong.  Every day, every hour, we do two full exchanges and they just happen.

Another thing we've been able to do with OpCon is to give our business users a level of self-service and automation for themselves. We don't have to be here to do things for them. OpCon will just do them for them. OpCon has absolutely streamlined our operations. We went from getting requests to do something and the end-user waiting for however long it took us to get around to doing it, to their being able to do it for themselves.

We actually got rid of our third shift with one of the operators going off to work in another part of our IT division. Now, the third shift effectively goes on unmanned. We allow OpCon to run things for us.

In addition, with the automation, the solution has definitely sped things up enormously. There's less human interaction that has to go on now.

We just wouldn't be without OpCon.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features are the 

  • automation 
  • repeatability.

Since we got it configured, it has just done the job day in, day out. Being able to rely on it and know that it's going to happen, whether there's a person over it or not, is really good.

The ease of use and simplicity in automating processes are good. They get better every time they put out a new release. When we first got it, a long time ago, it wasn't as intuitive as it is now. That also comes, a little bit, with our having used it for so many years, so we're more used to it. But I have a guy who started working with me about three years ago, for example. He had never touched anything like this but he was able to pick it up and run with it. And he absolutely raves about it. He thinks it's the best product he's ever worked on - this from a person with many years of IT experience.

What needs improvement?

I might like to see a little bit more of a seamless user interface. That would be good. They're moving towards a browser-type interface, rather than the Java application that we currently use. Also, a little bit more built-in self-service would be good, rather than a standalone product.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been using OpCon for around 15 years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability gets better all the time. Where we've had problems with stability, it's been partly our fault. We run it on a VMware server but we haven't recognized that the workload has increased and haven't increased the capacity of the server it's running on. It's because of things like that that OpCon has had the odd issue. But in general, the product in and of itself is pretty reliable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It's absolutely scalable. It will just take whatever you throw at it. As long as you make sure that the hardware it's running it on will cope, it seems like it has endless possibilities.

It does all of our batch processing. Absolutely everything is run under OpCon. As we add more processes, it's a no-brainer; we put them into OpCon. We only use it for our ClearPath mainframes and Windows Servers. If we were to move to another operating system, we would definitely take OpCon with us. It has that flexibility to run on different platforms as well.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is really good.

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

I brought OpCon into the company. Prior to that everything was done manually by people.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was pretty straightforward. We were a very small IT shop when I first came here and OpCon was one of the first SQL databases that we had that had any great importance in our world. We had local New Zealand support to help us. They were really good. We were a little bit wary of jumping in and using it, and they really helped us to step into the product with small steps to start off with. That allowed us to gain a comfort level. It was a good implementation.

We were a little bit shy and timid about automating things. We started out playing with it quite a bit. It took us a while from the time we deployed it until we automated our first process, and that was because I decided to approach it by rewriting a lot of the code that we ran, to make the best use of OpCon. We used to have one great big job that ran everything, and I really wanted to break it down and use OpCon to bring everything to the surface, rather than it being all hidden in one big job. My wanting to do that made it take longer; it was a few months to really get something going "in anger."

The game plan was to try and take away as much of the manual processing as we could. There was a lot of checking that was done every single day.

What was our ROI?

The fact that we were able to eliminate a staff member entirely from the area and move him to another area has definitely paid dividends in terms of what we pay for OpCon today.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I have worked in an IBM environment, so I've worked with Control-M and the old CA 7. OpCon was the only option that was available, at the time, for a ClearPath mainframe. But it's been a good option.

What other advice do I have?

The biggest lesson I have learned from using OpCon is: Don't try to do things manually. It's a really good automation tool. Really, really good.

Go for it. If your aim is to gain reliability and automation, and making sure that when you want things done they'll get done, then OpCon is a really good tool.

One of the very good things about SMA as a company is that they actively seek input from us as customers. Where it makes sense, they take our suggestions and they develop them and they implement them. There are a couple of features in OpCon I'm aware of which have come from a number of customers here in New Zealand, including myself. They listen and they improve where it's appropriate. There's nothing significant in the product that needs improvement. It's a really good product.

There are four of us who look after the production environment, and we have about 10 or 11 people who are using it in development work, running their processing. There are two of us who do maintenance of the solution. The only reason there are two of us is that people go on holiday. It really is easy to maintain.

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.