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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.
ElizabethTinajero
IT Operations Systems Analyst Lead at Credit Human Federal Credit Union
Real User
Top 20
Dramatically reduced our nightly processing times and integrates into Windows, VM, AIX, and SQL

Pros and Cons

  • "The most valuable features are its integration into Windows, into VM, and into AIX, as well as SQL."
  • "We have not explored the possibility, but one of the areas for improvement would be more integration into Active Directory, to where it could do the creation of user accounts and the additional work to integrate third-party systems into payroll systems."

What is our primary use case?

We use it throughout the enterprise, company-wide.

How has it helped my organization?

Utilizing OpCon has enabled us to achieve almost 98 percent automation throughout the enterprise. We have over 15,000 jobs in OpCon.

The solution has also streamlined operations. We were utilizing six people to do our processing and sustain our environment prior to using OpCon, and now we are only utilizing one person for that. And that person, who is currently working primarily on OpCon, has been freed up to do other work, other scripting. He's also able to do additional admin work within the IT environment.

OpCon has taken employees out of day-to-day, manual operations and given them an opportunity to grow in other areas of IT. They have been dispersed throughout our IT department in various other functions and roles where we needed additional staff, including our client services PC area, our server support area, and some of the other admin work areas. They no longer have to do repeatable, menial tasks just running batch operations.

In addition, nightly processing would take about 10 hours prior to OpCon. Now that we're running on OpCon, it takes two.

What is most valuable?

  • The most valuable features are its integration into Windows, into VM, and into AIX, as well as SQL.
  • The job automation and ability to run scripting are also important for us.
  • It's relatively easy to use and utilize. If you have knowledge and understanding of network technologies, it makes it much simpler.

What needs improvement?

We have not explored the possibility, but one of the areas for improvement would be more integration into Active Directory, to where it could do the creation of user accounts and the additional work to integrate third-party systems into payroll systems.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been using OpCon for almost eight years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is a very stable product.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

So far it's been scalable in our environment. We haven't had any issues with the scalability of the product.

We have plans to increase the Self Service capability and to integrate it into additional business units. As far as some of the other environments go within our infrastructure, we do have plans to add automation to our document imaging system and any other new or auxiliary products that we purchase.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support staff is knowledgeable about their product. We have had a turnaround time of less than four hours in most instances where we've had to call in for support. But the product in and of itself is very stable so we have not had a lot of technical support calls. Contacting them has been more for when we've had to implement new products or new services and we were making modifications.

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

We did utilize another job scheduler prior to OpCon called JFS, which was not robust enough to do everything that we needed done. That's why we opted to look at the OpCon solution as a replacement. JFS was more tedious in terms of implementation. It was not robust enough to do individual calendar scheduling, nor did it have the ability to do a lot of these single transfers or to initiate any scripting for SQL or AIX. It was very limited.

With JFS it did not take long to implement automations; a couple of hours to automate a process and to be able to add jobs to it. It's just that it was very tedious and we had to consistently manipulate the schedules to fit our needs because it did not have a calendar system like OpCon does to be able to manipulate jobs and do schedules by date.

Overall, JFS was not scalable. It didn't meet our needs. It required a lot of manual intervention. We had outgrown that product very quickly. We had been on that product less than four years before we decided that it just was not good enough to sustain our environment. Currently, our environment has over 240 servers and there was no way we could have managed that with the old schedule.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was pretty straightforward. The SMA group came out onsite to assist with the implementation. It was done in two phases, upon our request, because we didn't have the man-hours to be able to do it all in one shot. They came out and did some initial training with us and then we asked them to come back four weeks later. Upon their return, because of the training we received, we were able to tackle a lot of the automated processes and they helped us with the more complex schedules.

The deployment itself took a couple of hours.

The implementation strategy for us was to tackle the nightly process first, and the second item was to tackle all FTPs. The third was to tackle the complex scripting for all other SQL or AIX. The last step was to do Self Service.

What was our ROI?

We reached our return on investment from the first year that we purchased the initial product, simply because of the number of man-hours saved. We were paying $200,000 in personnel costs to sustain our operations environment. We removed that from our budget as far as salary is concerned, from the operations area, because we didn't need as many personnel to run operations on once we implemented the product. We ended up adding new roles to take on new initiatives and we were able to expand our IT area into other things.

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

Our annual maintenance costs are $45,000. The initial cost is separate.

Initially, we purchased just the standard OpCon solution. We upgraded to the OpCon elite solution, the enterprise edition. That did include some Self Service licensing. But if we want to expand to more Self Service licenses, we will have to purchase them. We may look at that in the near future.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I don't recall which other options we looked at. We did attend an educational conference where this product was offered and we decided to explore its capabilities. Because we had a job scheduler in place prior to purchasing OpCon, we didn't weigh it against many other products. We looked at some of the features that it had and the robustness of the product and we liked the presentation that we were given, as well as the possibility for expansion. That's why we took it on as a job scheduler.

What other advice do I have?

Step back and look at your enterprise and purchase enough licensing to cover all of your servers. When we first went into the product, we only purchased the minimal, standard licensing. It was just the 10 licenses. Fewer than six months after the purchase of the product, we had already used up all the licensing that we had purchased. If we had really taken a look at our overall infrastructure and seen the number of servers that we had, and taken into account the utilization of this product — because it's so robust it can be used for many things — we could have made a better decision on the purchase and gotten an enterprise version of it instead of just the standard.

I have about 15 users of the product. Three of them are operators, about five of them are in the development realm, and the rest are batch users who initiate schedules using the Self Service feature. For deployment and maintenance of OpCon we require two people. They do monthly security patching, which is normal maintenance, as well as yearly upgrades.

The biggest lesson I've learned in using OpCon is that you get your money's worth. The robustness, scalability, and expandability of the product are things that every company should invest in. OpCon is a very good product.

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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RonBroaddus
Systems Director at a financial services firm with 51-200 employees
Real User
Top 20
It's reduced our workload drastically

Pros and Cons

  • "The solution has freed up employees to do more meaningful work as a result of automation. They don't have to sit there and wait for files to download. They don't have to stare at the screen while a process is running. It all runs in the background, doing it for them."
  • "The initial setup was fairly complex."

What is our primary use case?

We are using it for automating our core processing system.

Probably 65 to 70 percent of our operations have been automated by OpCon.

It currently runs all of our primary operations throughout the day, as far as we schedule everything through it. Our plan is to continue to automate the remainder of our processes, which are not automated, so we can get as much automated as possible.

How has it helped my organization?

The solution has streamlined operations. A good example is our ACH processing. We used to have somebody come in early in the morning to do all of our ACH processing (our incoming items processing). They had to be here early and run all the jobs manually. They did all the processing by hand. Now, it runs automatically at three in the morning. When they come in, all the work's done. They come in later and don't have as much work. It's reduced our workload drastically.

The solution has freed up employees to do more meaningful work as a result of automation. They don't have to sit there and wait for files to download. They don't have to stare at the screen while a process is running. It all runs in the background, doing it for them. When it's ready and prompts them, they know that they're ready to go on with the next part of their job which requires them to do something. A lot of employees love OpCon because it was a very mundane, cumbersome task to sit there and download files, waiting while it was processing. It was not exactly fun and exciting.

It's not so much that we have freed up an employee or gotten rid of an employee. It's just that they have more time to take on more duties. We haven't really had to add employees.

What is most valuable?

The overall ability to automate all our processing is the most valuable feature so we don't have one scheduler doing this, while another scheduler is doing that, and somebody doing this manually. We are able to automate our processing completely.

For how long have I used the solution?

About a year and a half.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's rock solid. We've never had any issues with it.

There are four of us who do the deployment and maintenance of the system, but that is not full-time. We work on all the systems.

We are planning on upgrading to version 19 in January.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We've yet to exceed its scalability. OpCon would appear to be able to handle a lot more than what we're doing. We are continuously finding new ways to utilize it.

We have four people in the IT department who are the primary management users of OpCon. However, we also utilize the Self Service portion of it, and the majority of the organization has access to that. There are 20 to 25 users of the Self Service, which allows them to execute jobs without being in the scheduling software. It's actually a web based portal where they can go, and there is a button there they can press to execute whatever job they're trying to execute.

How are customer service and technical support?

We have had really good results from the technical support. Every time we needed anything, they have been right there. They usually have a really good answer or solution to the problem.

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

We find it very simple and easy to use. We had a previous product that was a scheduler which was overly complex and extremely difficult to use. We're very pleased with this one.

When we changed our core systems, the new core system supported OpCon. It didn't support our older product. As part of our conversion, we changed over to the OpCon product. This was one of the better things that we did.

One of the things which has really helped us is the time it takes us to build jobs and automate things. For example, if we decide we are going to go out and do a new process tomorrow, our previous system would take a week to 10 days, then require assistance from a third-party support company to get it to work. With this solution, we can do it in a matter of minutes without additional support.

I am coming off of a system that was so cumbersome to use that we couldn't even get it to do basic things without having to involve support all the time. Whereas, we've had to involve support very little with OpCon.

OpCon overcomes limitations of our previous automation tool. Our previous tool didn't work well with anything other than the particular core system that we have. For example, it didn't work well with Microsoft Servers, moving files around, and doing things like file transfers. Whereas, this system does that very well.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was fairly complex, but we had great support from OpCon. They came onsite and helped us set everything up. From that aspect, it was very easy because we had them here helping us and working through all the issues. Once we went live with it, they were available again to help us make sure everything was working okay, and that moving forward, everything stayed working.

The deployment of OpCon took about three to four weeks. This deployment was tremendously faster than our previous automation tool, which took almost a year to get in place completely. Even then, we still struggled with issues (with our previous solution).

We did the deployment of the solution at the same time that we were setting up processes and automating it. We went live with OpCon about two months after we'd finished the implementation.

We were in the process of converting, not just our scheduler, but all of our core systems at the same time. So, we were doing everything at once. Our plan and schedule was to get it to work as fast as possible, then move onto the next thing that we had to get working.

What about the implementation team?

It was internal on our part, but staff from SMA came out to help us set it up. They were actually onsite. We sent a person back to their facility for training. Then, after that training was complete, they then came back and helped us complete the onsite part of the installation and configuration.

What was our ROI?

It has reduced our processing times.

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

The total cost of ownership is about the same to our previous product. The costs are relatively similar.

The purchasing price was in the $30,000 or $40,000 range, but I don't remember how much of that was licensing or installation and how it was broken out.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked at a couple of different solutions. We looked at keeping the product that we had. We look at OpCon. We looked at another solution, but weren't impressed with it at all. It came down to OpCon or trying to figure out if we could interface our existing product with the current system that we had. We determined that wasn't going to be feasible, so we decided to change over to OpCon completely.

One of the problems that we ran into with our existing system, and why we were looking, was the overall technical support. It was very poor. It was a foreign product from Germany, and their technical support was not particularly strong.

What other advice do I have?

Make sure that it fits well with your environment. Understand that it's not simply a single product automation tool. It can automate everything.

We were not utilizing automation as fully as we could. Once we got on the OpCon product, it really made a huge difference in that.

Because there is always room for improvement, I would give it 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.
MikeAbbe
Manager of Remote Services at Dow Chemical Employees Credit Union
Real User
Top 20
Enables us to increase our job count and process in real-time instead of waiting until the next day

Pros and Cons

  • "OpCon has also reduced our data processing times because of the way you can build out workflows. It can run things in sequence. It's not restricted to a linear process, so you can run multiple jobs at once, allowing for multi-threaded jobs."
  • "The biggest area where there is room for improvement would be integration with their code. They've got a function for embedded scripts and it would be nice if that worked with a code or versioning management system, like GitLab."

What is our primary use case?

We use it for automating business processes.

How has it helped my organization?

We're currently running 900 daily jobs in the system and OpCon allows us to do more because we don't have the human resources to run that many jobs. Now, with a system that can automate things, we are able to add a lot more volume to our day and to increase our job count. It allows our business to process a lot quicker. We can process more in real-time instead of waiting until the next day. It has enabled us to move from traditional batch processing to more real-time processing with a lot of our processes.

We've automated close to 250 tasks. In our IT space, we've automated 100 percent of the jobs that were running manually. We have also automated some tasks in our accounting and our item processing department. The automation on the accounting side drastically changed their jobs. I know because I was involved in working with their teams. And on the item processing team, close to 75 percent of the manual tasks around the core system have been automated.

OpCon has also reduced our data processing times because of the way you can build out workflows. It can run things in sequence. It's not restricted to a linear process, so you can run multiple jobs at once, allowing for multi-threaded jobs. As a result, we have been able to cut our nightly processing job from three hours to two hours.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is its integration with our core system. There is a very limited number of vendors that integrate with our core system. OpCon allowed us to reassign three part-time people who were running jobs manually. OpCon is running those jobs automatically and those people now work in general IT support, instead of running manual jobs all day. Those people were very receptive to the changes because it was a lot of tedious and error-prone work and they were pretty happy to get it off their plates.

OpCon is also fairly easy to use, as long as you have some kind of process background for understanding workflow. If you understand workflows at a very basic level, you can use OpCon.

What needs improvement?

The biggest area where there is room for improvement would be integration with their code. They've got a function for embedded scripts and it would be nice if that worked with a code or versioning management system, like GitLab.

Overall, we haven't run into too many roadblocks where we tried doing something and we couldn't do it.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been using OpCon for four years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We only have it running in a single instance, but they do support a failover cluster. It is supported to run in a high-availability mode. I wouldn't see any problems with the application's stability. We've never had issues. We run it on a virtual machine.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It scales easily. The only thing you have to be mindful of is licensing, because you pay per task. Other than that, it has handled as many jobs as we've thrown at it. We tried a few thousand in one day. It scales nicely.

It handles all of our critical-to-business processes. It handles all our ACH, our check-processing, our nightly processing, and various other daily tasks. We'd be in rough shape if we didn't have OpCon running.

Our plan is to always increased usage. We have a "continuous improvement" mindset here. If we can implement something in OpCon, we do.

How are customer service and technical support?

SMA's technical support is excellent. They've always helped us out.

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

We did not have a previous automation tool. The reason we went with OpCon is that it has an integration with our core system.

How was the initial setup?

The vendor handled most of the setup but it's more complex than other systems. We had some issues with setting up our service users with the domain. There is still some complexity with that — with which users have to run which jobs on which servers — because of permission models. That was the only thing that really was complex about the install. Actually installing the application is very straightforward, but the permissions model behind the service accounts is complex.

The complexity is because they allow you to do things in so many different ways. They didn't want to make an out-of-the-box setting for how you do things. Some of it is left up to the user to figure out the best way to handle things. In our case, we decided to use an Active Directory domain user and it was a little more complicated to do that because of security issues.

The installation itself, to where there was a usable product, took about two hours with their support team. Our experience with them during the initial deployment was very good.

After the initial deployment, it took about 10 minutes to automate our first process.

As for our deployment plan, we had all our manual jobs in a checklist and we ranked them all with a complexity rating. While the OpCon support was on site for our implementation and we had their attention, we worked through the more complex issues. After they left, we picked up the low-hanging fruit.

What was our ROI?

We have absolutely seen ROI. I don't have any way to measure it, but it's probably the most critical system to our organization, after Active Directory and email.

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

Yearly, we're paying about $62,000. OpCon has an all-inclusive feature and module license, but you pay per task. We have a 500 daily task count. Recurring tasks only count once. There are only additional costs if you want consulting hours for working on new projects. I think that cost is $250 per hour, a pretty standard consulting rate.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated one other solution, but I don't recall its name.

What other advice do I have?

My advice would be to definitely involve the business units early in the process and get them all onboard, because you don't want to buy a tool that the business isn't ready for. They should be involved in process mapping.

The biggest lesson I've learned from using OpCon is not really about the tool itself, but more from going through the process and mapping with other departments. There's a lot of room or potential for OpCon, because the users in your company are definitely doing more manual processing than you could ever imagine. It made us realize how much manual work we are doing. It put eyes on that. We became hyper-aware of everything going on and would say, "Oh yeah, let's put that and that in OpCon". That went on nonstop for two years.

It's ongoing. We're still definitely growing the tool. There's always new stuff. Some teams were a little apprehensive at first and now they're more interested in it. When you talk about automation, it's always about someone's fear of being replaced by a machine. That wasn't the case with the core team for the critical pieces. All of those teams were willing to move their stuff because of availability and the criticality of what they were doing. They realized that automating it was a good move.

In our company, OpCon is primarily run by the IT department. The only other team that interfaces with the tool is accounting, and they use the Self Service feature. We have 12 users using OpCon on a regular basis. There are two people in IT who maintain it.

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.
CW
Senior Analyst at iQ Credit Union
Real User
Top 20
Integration with Symitar is the main reason we got it, but we're also able to automate everything

Pros and Cons

  • "We haven't freed up a full person's job using it, but there are a good handful of people for whom it has freed up about half of their time. And those employees love it. A lot of tasks are based on certain times, and they're no longer stuck doing those things at those times. We don't have to have anybody coming in early anymore. They can focus on the processing part of their jobs instead of the file moving and downloading."
  • "I don't really think anything needs to be improved within the functionality. The only struggle I had, when I first started using it, is that it depends a lot on the command line and I didn't have that experience. So more built-in, basic commands or more education on commands would be good."

What is our primary use case?

We use it for automating with our core system, Symitar. We've automated some 100 processes with it. Of what we can automate, about half is now automated.

How has it helped my organization?

Before OpCon, it was a person's job to just manually run a bunch of things, like file transfers. And someone had to set up nightly processing within our system. Now, nobody has to do those things, and nobody forgets to do them. It just does them. It has improved our efficiency. We don't have to log in and download files and transfer them.

We haven't freed up a full person's job using it, but there are a good handful of people for whom it has freed up about half of their time. And those employees love it. A lot of tasks are based on certain times, and they're no longer stuck doing those things at those times. We don't have to have anybody coming in early anymore. They can focus on the processing part of their jobs instead of the file moving and downloading.

The solution has also reduced our data processing times by about 20 percent. We're still in the building process. We have a lot more to go.

What is most valuable?

For us, the integration with Symitar is the main reason we got it. But we're also able to automate everything. We don't have to do things manually anymore. It takes out that human error.

What needs improvement?

I don't really think anything needs to be improved within the functionality. The only struggle I had, when I first started using it, is that it depends a lot on the command line and I didn't have that experience. So more built-in, basic commands or more education on commands would be good.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been using OpCon for two years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Overall the stability has been great.

We've had a few issues but they're not because the system isn't stable. They have been more a case of known issues, but, until something broke, we weren't notified that we should fix things. That was a little frustrating. They knew it was happening, but they didn't tell us, "Hey, this is happening. You should do this before it breaks."

One issue had to do with pulling a file, because you can't use wildcards for file names all the time. SMA had a different FTP solution that they gave us, one that one of their programmers wrote. We're using it, but it's outside of the core OpCon system. Since we got it, things have been good. It just would have been nice if we could have done it all within OpCon instead of having to have a separate process.

How are customer service and technical support?

SMA's technical support is great. They've been very helpful. What has been a little difficult because is the time difference. They are in America but they're two hours ahead of us. Sometimes things happen at the end of our processing day and their tech support is closed. But other than that, it's been great. Their online system is good and when we call it's good.

There is on-call support, but they make it very clear that unless processing has stopped, there's a fee for that level of support.

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

We had MOVEit before. The time to implement that solution, versus OpCon, was about equal. But OpCon can do much more than the other one could. In terms of automating processes, they are similar. MOVEit did not depend so much on command lines, so it was a little more straightforward when we wanted to work with dates or file names. But it didn't integrate with Symitar. For us, that was the huge part.

OpCon's TCO is a lot more but we didn't have support with the other solution.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was complex. There's so much it can do. But we had a lot of support from SMA, so we got what we needed. That complexity goes back, in large part, to the command-line issue. The simple things, like downloading a file and saving it, are really easy. But if you want to do more stuff, it takes a little while to get through that and to understand how it works.

SMA came onsite for the initial week and set it all up. We went live right away with several things at that point.

Our implementation strategy for OpCon was to get the nightly processing stuff set up. That was the most important initial goal. Then we made a list of all the things that were run by people manually and we went down that list.

What about the implementation team?

Our experience with the SMA techs was great. They were onsite and that was helpful. They're very knowledgeable. They explained everything and they gave us best practices.

What was our ROI?

We have seen ROI in terms of people being able to work more efficiently, which helps with the cost of employees.

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

We just switched to task-based pricing, instead of annual agent pricing. There are the licensing fees and a maintenance fee. And we have costs for maintaining servers, our main server and our DR server.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We didn't really evaluate other options because OpCon is endorsed by Jack Henry. We were able to talk to other Symitar clients to get their experiences. OpCon was the logical choice.

What other advice do I have?

The biggest lesson I have learned from using OpCon is that we do a lot of things manually that we don't need to be doing manually. Also, as we're automating people's processes, we're able to analyze what they're doing and find a more efficient, better way to do things.

My advice would be to learn about the command line. Also, start early on making a list of all of the things you want to automate and write out the steps for each process. That's been taking a lot of time: Trying to get people to explain the different steps they do and then trying to figure out the best way to set that up in OpCon. Starting on those things early will help speed up the implementation.

There are about 10 people using OpCon's Enterprise Manager and the Self Service, in our company. There will be more. We're slowly expanding. Among the users are our systems analyst, our system administrator, and some of our accounting, operations, and compliance people use it. We also have a network specialist who uses it for file cleanup on different servers.

We have three people involved in maintaining the solution and each has a role. Some of us create, some of us upgrade it, as needed, and some of us monitor it daily. We don't have our developers using it. They develop something and then we usually incorporate it for them.

Our usage of OpCon is still pretty moderate. We have a lot of plans to increase it. It's just a matter of time. It touches all departments, but we want to utilize it more within each department.

I would rate the solution an eight out of 10. It's pretty good but I don't think it's miraculous. It's definitely better than our old solution and I'm pretty happy with it.

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.
BS
Information Systems Architect at Cornerstone Bank
User
Great self-service with a useful script repository error handling

Pros and Cons

  • "The end code response allows us to evaluate how a process finished, set the termination/end code appropriately, and then trigger further processing based on how it ended."
  • "More functionality within self-service would be greatly appreciated."

What is our primary use case?

OpCon has primarily been used to automate our backend IBM and Windows processing. Largely, this involves file transfers, IBM i job submissions, Powershell scripts, and SQL queries. 

We use OpCon to build workflows of related processes to ensure that things are run in the correct sequence. Logic is in place to ensure errors are handled appropriately, and often automatically. OpCon's Solution Manager is also used to empower other users to initiate processes, where previously tech involvement was needed. 

OpCon is the glue that joins numerous processes and various systems into a single cohesive and centralized experience. 

How has it helped my organization?

In my department, OpCon has largely removed the human error from our nightly processing. Clicking or launching the wrong program is a thing of the past, now that OpCon has taken over the processing. When employee turnover occurs, items that have been handled by OpCon are no longer a concern, due to the fact that the process will continue to function as expected. 

Error handling and reporting have also been a great benefit. Often when things in our environment break, OpCon will generate a notification to us of the diagnosed problem. We also heavily use OpCon's IBM Message Management system to identify messages displayed on our i Series and respond appropriately. This ensures critical messages are seen as well as tracked when required. 

Self-service has also been a great benefit to us. We're able to build processes within OpCon and give the end-user the ability to initiate them with inputs. Where previously this couldn't be done due to the security concerns of giving the end user that capability, now we can grant a batch user used by OpCon those permissions. This enables us to keep tight control over permissions, but grant some extended functionality through Solution Manager. 

What is most valuable?

The self-service is great as it enables users to initiate processes within OpCon without giving them access to more functionality than required. It relieves stress off the technology department, as more users are able to facilitate their own processes without a call to tech.

IBM LSAM has a very robust set of tools to monitor and run the various processes on an IBM i mainframe. It has the functionality to mimic operator input and capture data off of the screen for evaluation. The two most heavily used features of the LSAM in our environment are the Message Management and Scan Spoolfile functions. These allow us to capture information from message logs as well as spool files and launch further processing through the LSAM or OpCon itself. 

The smart email allows us to retrieve emails from a specified account and triggers further processing. Again, it allows another avenue for external users to initiate processes without needing to contact us. 

The script repository enables us to hold "scripts" that can be run on various machines - Windows in our case. It supports versioning and documentation.

The end code response allows us to evaluate how a process finished, set the termination/end code appropriately, and then trigger further processing based on how it ended. 

What needs improvement?

It's a pricey product. The new license model gave us access to a lot of functionality that we're not likely to use any time soon. The cost of the product is now also determined by the number of jobs you run through the software. There are pros and cons to this method, but now I have to evaluate if a simple function is worth the cost to automate before doing so. 

More functionality within self-service would be greatly appreciated. We're needing to look at other solutions in conjunction with OpCon as the number of user inputs available within self-service doesn't always meet our needs. If self-service could be improved to pull information from OpCon to "pre-fill" inputs, that would also create a much more seamless and powerful experience. 

It would also be fantastic if we could create our own job subtypes. There are quite a few that come with the software, but being able to create your own would mean you could standardize how parameters are provided to executable programs/scripts. 

For how long have I used the solution?

I've used the solution for more than 4 years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Very rarely do we experience anything that would make me question OpCon's stability. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It's very scalable, especially given the new license model which allows installation on "unlimited" Windows machines. However, detailed knowledge of the product may be required to make use of it properly. It takes time and experience to make great use of the software. 

How are customer service and technical support?

Usually, this is a positive experience, however, occasionally I feel like we're getting the run-around or being offered solutions that don't appear to be applicable to the issue. Very rarely is an issue not resolved within a week. 

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

We did not look at anything else of this caliber. We made heavy use of Windows Task Scheduler and the IBM Job Scheduler. The process worked, but everything was scattered and we really needed a centralized point of contact for all our automation.

How was the initial setup?

SMA was onsite to implement the software initially. Largely, this was straightforward and any bugs or issues that came up we were able to work through shortly after SMA left. 

What about the implementation team?

We had an internal team that worked with our implementation team from SMA to set up the product. SMA was incredibly knowledgeable of the OpCon ins and outs. Particularly the IBM contact with SMA was extremely impressive in their ability to provide robust solutions and bug fixes to problems in a very quick manner (often within a few hours of reporting the issue). 

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

In our environment, OpCon is much more expensive than it used to be a year ago. Licensing changes no longer allow us to automate to our heart's content in our "small" environment. Now, the cost to automate needs to be evaluated as new items are put into the software because it's likely you will be charged for them. 

Getting a good handle as to what SMA charges can also be helpful so that new processes can be created in a way that incurs a smaller expense. As an example, using a single script to accomplish what multiple jobs could do otherwise. 

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Yes. We looked at Help Systems Robot.

What other advice do I have?

Overall, OpCon has been an amazing addition to our automation toolbelt. While current prices sting a little, given past pricing, it has been well worth the cost and peace of mind. 

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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SP
AVP Operations at Dickinson Financial Corp.
Real User
Top 20
Our daily processes are running smoothly, so we have more time to devote to other tasks

Pros and Cons

  • "It allows us to organize everything into a process flow throughout the day for our different tasks that we have to run. So, it keeps everything organized. It is easy to monitor and adjust, if we need to."
  • "There is a learning curve. We had to go to class, learn, and take their training classes, then come back. We got assistance from OpCon as well to convert our processes on the Unisys machine over to the IBM. Now, when we add new products, it's pretty straightforward to write a new process and schedule it, then run it at a set time of day."

What is our primary use case?

We manage all the tasks run on the IBM.

How has it helped my organization?

We have automated 95 percent of our processes since deploying this solution. 

We use it to process our entire nightly update when we are running our updates for our DDA savings, CDs, and loans. It runs everything in order. We set up dependencies, where one job can't start before another. So, it's good for making sure that things stay in a good order and run the way that they should run.

The solution has freed up at least one employee to do more meaningful work as a result of the automation. We only have five FTEs in our group.

We can view what is going on with the system. We have better control of when things are run and how they are running their statuses. It just gives us a complete overview.

What is most valuable?

It allows us to organize everything into a process flow throughout the day for our different tasks that we have to run. So, it keeps everything organized. It is easy to monitor and adjust, if we need to.

Automating tasks is pretty easy for the most part, though you can get more complicated. For most of our tasks, it's relatively simple.

What needs improvement?

There is a learning curve. We had to go to class, learn, and take their training classes, then come back. We got assistance from OpCon as well to convert our processes on the Unisys machine over to the IBM. Now, when we add new products, it's pretty straightforward to write a new process and schedule it, then run it at a set time of day.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution since December 2016.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability is really good. It stays up. It is functional 99.9 percent of the time. Usually if there is an issue, it's on the server back-end or the SQL database.

OpCon requires three people for deployment and maintenance.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We run with a very slim staff for our group. We only have one employee, at most times, who monitors and oversees things.

Its scalability is pretty good. We are a lot smaller shop than a lot of OpCon clients, but we don't have any problems adding additional jobs. It doesn't seem to slow anything down.

There are two or three main users who write processes or jobs. I manage the computer operations and my assistant manager will write some schedules. We have another IT person whose function is to try and make automation processes better throughout the company, and he uses OpCon. It also has a Self Service feature where you can push out particular jobs to users throughout the company. E.g., if they want to start a job, they can do it on their own without contacting the IT department. So, it's a web GUI front-end. They have a button if they want to create a certain report, then they can at their workstation.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support is good. They will work with us and get issues resolved pretty quickly.

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

We were on a Unisys machine and used their workflow language to write automated jobs. But, it's sort of apples and oranges comparing the solutions, as they are pretty different.

We had a process in place before we switched to the IBM and were on Unisys, when we used to be on a different tool. It wasn't as consistent and would get things out of order, not running properly. Switching to OpCon, employees have found other things to fix their time on.

It is a lot easier to schedule things with OpCon than with our previous solution. We have jobs which run every 15 or 30 minutes, and it's easy to schedule those. You can use it to check and make sure other things are not running at the same time. 

How was the initial setup?

OpCon was much easier and quicker to set up than our previous solution because we could set up schedules and copy them over, using them for other functions easily. Overall, it was 50 percent easier.

We were still running things on the Unisys system on a daily basis. So, we would copy our files over to the OpCon system, then run them through a simulated update just like we had on Unisys and compare the results.

What about the implementation team?

We did use some of the OpCon consultants for the deployment. The main consultant who helped us was George Loose.

It took three to four months to get everything fully converted over. That is partially on the people who were in charge of doing the switch over. They were also in charge of running the daily operations on the Unisys machine and their time was not fully vested in the switch over.

In reference to the deployment being loaded, I wrote a process the week after I came back from the class. It didn't take too long.

What was our ROI?

  1. We are running with less full-time employees. 
  2. The daily processes are running smoothly. We don't find a lot of issues, so we have more time to devote to other tasks other than just keeping the system going.

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

This solution is slightly more expensive than our previous solution. Right now, we are paying about $40,000 a year. However, we think it's well worth the cost to keep things automated, reducing our staff.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

The decision was made before I moved into this department.

What other advice do I have?

It can get as complicated as we want to try to get it. We use it pretty extensively to run things on other machines and processes on other servers other than the IBM. So, we use the solution pretty well. It's fairly easy to use and straightforward.

Our data processing times are dependent on the IBM running. We switched to IBM at the same time that we went to OpCon.

OpCon is used fully on the IBM. We may increase usage in the future, as we always look for more automation opportunities as they come up. However, right now, it's just as we add new products or applications, then we'll add new schedules for those.

I would give the solution 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.
AaronWright
Core Operations Analyst at a financial services firm with 201-500 employees
Real User
Top 20
With file transfers and jobs being done automatically, the tool has freed up employees for other tasks

Pros and Cons

  • "It is so simplistic that it gives us peace of mind. Before, we had all these processes that were run manually, such as different file transfers and jobs running for our core at certain times. Now, all that stuff is done automatically."
  • "I would like more web-based training from SMA. That would be nice. Our primary OpCon representative is phenomenal, but we would like some training opportunities for learning on our own. When I started utilizing OpCon, the sheer breadth of it made for a very daunting task. I was almost fearful to start, not to mention fearful to go change things and possibly hinder a job."

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use would be for the enterprise data that we are utilizing, receiving files, and inputting jobs in and out of our core.

We have been using it quite extensively for important things: any ACH processing, remote deposit processing, file transfer protocol, and for any files that we need to send back and forth everyday.

My roles include anything with our core, things relegated to OpCon, and any ATM processing. These three things are my primary function.

How has it helped my organization?

It is so simplistic that it gives us peace of mind. Before, we had all these processes that were run manually, such as different file transfers and jobs running for our core at certain times. Now, all that stuff is done automatically.

We watch and make sure it's doing its job, which is mostly good. Basically, we go in and check multiple times a day to make sure jobs are still up and running, even though we get contacted as well. 

One of the manual processes that we moved to being automated is uploading jobs to our statement vendor. Previously, we would have to upload all of our statements manually and get the files physically, then transfer protocol them over to our statements vendor. When we built that into OpCon, we were able to build the job to run it at 7:00 in the evening on the days that statement needed to be uploaded. It will go into run the appropriate core job to pull the core member data that it needs, then pull it out and store it on one of our network drives. At which point, it will get moved, zipped up, and then moved through our OpCon FTP servers.

Our employees are freed up to do more things automation-wise. It also gives us the ability to look at taking on new tasks that we typically didn't think of because we just didn't have the time.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature would be the contact feature. You have this awesome automation tool, but then it also has the ability to contact and page you in the event something goes wrong. This is nice. It gives you the warm fuzzy feeling in IT, if you're not receiving calls, that everything is going well.

What needs improvement?

I would like more web-based training from SMA. That would be nice. Our primary OpCon representative is phenomenal, but we would like some training opportunities for learning on our own. When I started utilizing OpCon, the sheer breadth of it made for a very daunting task. I was almost fearful to start, not to mention fearful to go change things and possibly hinder a job. 

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been using OpCon for probably six years. I've been in this department for two years now.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is very stable. They have a great foundation. 

However, to increase stability, they will need to create more online learning. So, somebody who lives in San Antonio (in my case) doesn't have to drive to Houston.

OpCon takes six individuals to operate and maintain it.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The sky's the limit.

We have six users who are developers in our organization.

We have automated probably hundreds of processes. As a ballpark figure, I would probably say about 60 to 65 percent of our manual processes have been automated.

How are customer service and technical support?

They have good tech support when you call in. Typically, you can get the answer that you were looking for relatively quickly. 

You do run into people who are new there from time to time, but they still have a good core foundation. As far as their tech support, you can tell that they are good with teamwork because I've had calls where maybe somebody didn't understand what it was that I was referencing. However, they were able to reach out to somebody more senior and we got the answers that we needed.

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

I'm not sure if anything was used before.

How was the initial setup?

The setup looks complex, but it becomes simplistic relatively quickly. E.g., looking at a job to edit and change things, you have different setups. One of them might be running a core/FTP job, where you have essentially have three to four different selections within those or you can choose command line. 

What about the implementation team?

The implementation was internal.

What was our ROI?

The solution has very much freed up employees to do more meaningful work as a result of automation. It is really matter of having boots on the ground to keep working to automate more than that roughly 60 percent. 

Our department is relatively small. I would probably say five employee have been freed up.

The solution has reduced data processing times.

What other advice do I have?

We have some plans in the works as far as how we want to utilize this in the future. It really all boils down to just not having to do processes manually, instead making them automated. The only function we utilize it for in this case is to free up more manpower.

I would recommend doing this solution. In the beginning, it appears to be daunting, but it makes a lot of sense once you started utilizing the tool. 

After training, I learned through a sort of trial by fire. However, it didn't take long to pick up. With the scripting portion, everything was simplistic to learn. If I was going to rate ease of use from one being the hardest to 10 being easiest, I would probably rate it a nine.

There are tools like this out there. You don't realize what automation looks like prior to seeing it from the back-end. It's pretty cool. I often call it, "The middleman between two points," because it connects the bridge.

I would rate the product overall as a 10 (out of 10).

They are here to stay as a vendor.

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.