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reviewer1657857
IT Manager at Pioneer Federal Credit Union
Real User
Top 20
A powerful product that helps reduce human error with great technical support available

Pros and Cons

  • "Often times there are criteria that cannot be determined by the system, which allows a human to make the determination and use the Self-Service Solution Manager to trigger a job."
  • "The products are extremely powerful and capable. Anytime you have such capability, the programming/configuration that goes into making it work can be complicated."

What is our primary use case?

The primary use case for us is automation. This platform has the ability to automate tasks between different operating systems (AIX, Linux, Windows, Apple). We use the products to automate tasks that interact with the Federal Reserve Bank, downloading files to be processed into our core banking solution, which is in an AIX-based environment. 

The system will also move human-readable report files to a Windows-based server, for reporting and historical-based purposes. The Self-Service Solution Manager allows users to initiate a task after other criteria are met even when that criteria cannot be determined by the automation system. 

How has it helped my organization?

Creating automation enables users to put their time and effort into areas more important than mundane tasks. In addition, automation reduces errors, by removing human mistakes. Automation tasks can be scheduled around the clock, so tasks can be set to run in the middle of the night (when system resources are more available or will less likely cause an impact to users). 

Errors can be reported in a variety of ways. We can set errors to be reported via text message (SMS) if the error is critically urgent or via email for errors less critical and time-sensitive. 

What is most valuable?

Self-Service Solution Manager enables automation to be triggered by a human, but still provides the benefits of reducing the workload of the user, and reducing the possibility of human error. 

Often times there are criteria that cannot be determined by the system, which allows a human to make the determination and use the Self-Service Solution Manager to trigger a job. 

This also helps restrict the permissions of the users that have Self-Service Solution Manager access to only areas or systems that they need. 

What needs improvement?

The products are extremely powerful and capable. Anytime you have such capability, the programming/configuration that goes into making it work can be complicated. 

Fortunately, the professionals at SMA Technologies are always willing to help. The technicians at SMA Technologies are available via telephone call or email for issues. Their response time is always in line with the critical nature of the issue. If I have a big project that needs dedicated support, I can request one of their consultants to provide assistance. 

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been with my company since September 2015 and have been using the OpCon automation solution that whole time. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We've never had an issue with the stability of the platform. For example the platform/server itself has never been the point of failure. The only issues we've experienced is when the in-house human created configurations were done with errors. Even when errors are identified, the system produces an error output that helps determine the point of failure, so it can be resolved. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The server is based on a SQL database, so it has tremendous capabilities and the system can be scaled up by adding additional resources to the single server, or by setting up multiple servers to operate in unison. 

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is the best! They always prioritize the urgency of our issue, with the impact it has to our production environment. Their top priority is not allow our production environment be be offline. 

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

When I came to the company, they were already using OpCon. I had used this solution in a previous job, so I was thrilled to see it being used. In my opinion, there's nothing better. 

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was complex, however, the SMA Technologies consultants are there the whole time, guiding the process, and making sure you'll have success. 

What about the implementation team?

We worked directly with SMA Technologies. 

What was our ROI?

We've saved thousands of man-hours with automation and reduced errors significantly. It's been money well spent.

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

This tool, like any other quality product, fits the idea of "You get what you pay for." The SMA Technologies consultants will help you get your money's worth of the products. 

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We did not evaluate other options.

What other advice do I have?

SMA Technologies provides great products with extraordinarily great service. 

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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RC
AVP of IT at a financial services firm with 51-200 employees
Real User
Unhelpful documentation, unhelpful support, and the failover doesn't work

Pros and Cons

  • "It seems like it would scale well."
  • "Licensing would be the first part I would overhaul. Each time a new licensing paradigm comes out, more features are removed and costs are added. They "add" features that are rarely used and increase charges for the number of jobs run. I'm sure someone in finance got a raise for their brilliance but the end-users won't thank them one bit. Expect price hikes and threats when you hold them to account at every opportunity."

What is our primary use case?

OpCon is used as our primary scheduler for our Epysis core and related systems. We make use of user-initiated jobs from the web-based dashboard in addition to the core features of OpCon. A number of agents are installed on systems allowing OpCon control of tasks on those systems such as Powershell and SQL.

Automating file downloads is another area that is useful. Additional support for FTP clients outside WSFTP Pro would be a great boon to the software. There are a few others I wouldn't mind being able to test out.

How has it helped my organization?

OpCon has assisted in automating many tasks. Any number of task schedulers could also have performed the same function likely for a lower cost. This was the bundled scheduler with the system.

As users don't have access to the back end of OpCon (obviously) all issues that are automated become an IT problem. Plan to train your IT staff in all areas that will be automated.

The user-side web interface is nice, yet it l lacks read-only capabilities that are on the road map. Users will want to know the progress of their job but unless you're willing to give them admin control, they won't see it.

What is most valuable?

It schedules tasks.

What needs improvement?

The user-side web interface generally works but fails for more complicated tasks. Self-service buttons that are paid for to be created by OpCon support are not tested and left in a non-functional state. After four different SMA reps "fixed" it only to find when it was used that it still didn't work we simply gave up on some of the functionality.

Expect a lot of "the documentation says this will work" only to find it doesn't.

Failover is another feature that would be exceptionally useful if it worked. The database was corrupted and support has been unable to resolve it.

Licensing would be the first part I would overhaul. Each time a new licensing paradigm comes out, more features are removed and costs are added. They "add" features that are rarely used and increase charges for the number of jobs run. I'm sure someone in finance got a raise for their brilliance but the end-users won't thank them one bit. Expect price hikes and threats when you hold them to account at every opportunity.

Support could also use additional training. It is a bit of a crapshoot if support will be able to help or not. Seems they've been told to push their automation as a service which reduces the value of paying for support significantly.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using OpCon since 2019.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

OpCon is relatively stable once running. We will give it credit there where it is due. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It seems like it would scale well. We are using an on-prem deployment with a failover.

How are customer service and technical support?

Tech support was excellent. It has since degraded in quality noticeably as the best techs were moved to automation as a service. 

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

I am unaware of the previous system used for our other core. It was prior to my tenure here.

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

Licensing was initially far better for small to mid-size operations. SMA has a need for additional funds so licensing went through a rather large hike. The setup cost was high but relatively fair if all the things in the setup worked. However, they didn't.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We purchased a package that included OpCon, unfortunately. We are now looking at other options and would advise others to do the same.

What other advice do I have?

Carefully consider all available options before settling on OpCon. Account managers were non-existent until new ones were hired that specialized in high-pressure sales. The best automation specialists were moved from support over to automation as a service, so expect lower quality support going forward unless you're shelling out for someone else to write the automation.

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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reviewer1661889
User at a financial services firm with 501-1,000 employees
Real User
Reliable and easy to link processes monitor items

Pros and Cons

  • "Reliability is always important, and the reliability of the system is outstanding."
  • "A way to select multiple jobs in the UI for a quick change or to hold, release, et cetera, would be nice."

What is our primary use case?

The primary use was to automate and schedule batch processes for a banking core system. As OpCon is more capable than our previous job scheduler, we have automated more jobs. 

We quickly found it was capable of doing much more, and expanded the uses. As the ability to schedule processes is so flexible, we now use that to start SQL agent jobs, SFTP processes, file transfers, and backups. 

We also have automated daily processing on a loan servicing system as well, which lets is run batch processes during low usage times overnight without having staff scheduled for those times.

How has it helped my organization?

The biggest change was having a robust way to schedule critical processes. Once it was set up, things just worked. Input errors were eliminated and we can quickly see the status of jobs, with instant error reporting in case we have an issue. We were able to automate processes and increase productivity so staff could focus on more complex tasks and project work that move the organization forward. That, and the peace of mind of knowing things run on time, are the biggest improvements for the organization.

What is most valuable?

Reliability is always important, and the reliability of the system is outstanding. The ability to link processes, have dependencies, and monitor things like file arrival has let us automate some fairly complex processes that previously involved a lot of user time.   

Being able to do this, and present it to staff as a self-service button that takes one click to submit was a big win. We have a large number of files, from multiple vendors, that must be accessed through FTP, and being able to get these files, unencrypted, and process for reporting or ETL processes overnight has streamlined our mornings and lets us deliver reports much earlier than we would otherwise.

What needs improvement?

We don't have a lot of asks, and the limitations are typically in deficiencies of the APIs or interfaces on other proprietary systems. OpCon would let us, but some vendors don't have that attitude. 

A way to select multiple jobs in the UI for a quick change or to hold, release, et cetera, would be nice. For example, I was testing a process where after a job finished, a multi-instance job for splitting out 12 report runs. When I made my adjustment to re-run, I had to click on each job separately to restart. It was time-consuming.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've used the solution for about 5 years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution is very stable. We have had no outages that I recall.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is highly scalable. We can't imagine pushing against any limits.

How are customer service and technical support?

We rarely contact support. When we have had to, its typically a very fast single call resolution. 

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

We had a different product, and it was limited. OpCon was less expensive and did more.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward and the learning curve was that after a few days building things in our test environment we rapidly moved jobs to live.

What about the implementation team?

We had an OpCon person on site, and the experience was very helpful.

What was our ROI?

The ROI is hard to quantify as it is so much a part of what we do, however, it does the equivalent work of a few staff members, for much less than the cost of one person.

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

We found it was a better value than our other option. I'd advise users to ask a lot of questions when setting up as chances are there is a way to do it. Having a lot of examples of processes was useful in expanding. We could copy a job, modify it, and be off and running. 

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We compared this solution to our previous product ISE Enterprise Scheduler and spoke with other Opcon users.

What other advice do I have?

It always works and we rarely need support.

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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TitleSystem Administrator at a financial services firm with 201-500 employees
Real User
Removes tedious tasks, offers great technical support, and is easy to use

Pros and Cons

  • "MAS is by far the best feature, although not a feature of the software specifically. MAS has more knowledge than our employees, so we have been able to develop schedules that are far beyond our own skillset."
  • "The only downside to OpCon is that its features can be complicated and really must be taught. Most of our users don't have training beyond the free Basic Training that SMA provides, so for fresh eyes, it is kind of difficult to understand some of the language used."

What is our primary use case?

We are a mid-level financial institution. We specifically used OpCon to help schedule important tasks that could not be trusted to human error. We picked it up as a tool to make lives easier for all of our different departments. We began working with MAS a few months ago as our scheduled jobs became too much for a few people to handle while we were experiencing high turnover. We became bogged down with users who did not understand the system and did not have time to train them. MAS stepped in and made this transition a lot easier for us. 

How has it helped my organization?

OpCon has made our lives easier by taking out the guesswork and removing tedious activities from employee's workdays when their time is better spent elsewhere. OpCon also helps because it is easy to "read the job" to know what the job does, why, and how to do it manually if needed. 

Through the use of self-service buttons, we have been able to give the option to run jobs whenever the user needs without having to manually do an entire process. Many of our end users use this without any complaint. It is simple and easy to use. 

What is most valuable?

MAS is by far the best feature, although not a feature of the software specifically. MAS has more knowledge than our employees, so we have been able to develop schedules that are far beyond our own skillset. 

They have also helped with maintenance so we can be assured if something goes wrong, MAS is there to fix it. Our on-call schedules are easier and we get full nights of sleep. Our team morale has greatly increased since we began working with MAS. Another great feature is the exit codes which help us understand why things are failing so the jobs are easier to fix. 

What needs improvement?

The only downside to OpCon is that its features can be complicated and really must be taught. Most of our users don't have training beyond the free Basic Training that SMA provides, so for fresh eyes, it is kind of difficult to understand some of the language used. 

Another thing that is difficult to understand is that not all failures explain why they are failing. Some give generic exit codes. 

Otherwise, I have no complaints. Working with the MAS team has really simplified everything for us. They're easy to reach, knowledgeable, and quick.

For how long have I used the solution?

Personally, I have been using the solution for two years, but our organization has been using it for five or more years.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The software has many features that are even beyond my knowledge, having worked with it for two years. Working with the MAS team, I have learned even more. 

How are customer service and technical support?

You will often find that you speak to the same people over and over again so you develop a rapport. Everyone is always helpful and very nice.

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

We did not use a different solution. We were doing all of this manually. 

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup can be complex, however, transitioning with the MAS team was very easy and straightforward. 

What about the implementation team?

We used a vendor team. Our engineers developed a close relationship with them. 

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

It is not the cheapest solution on the market, but it is relatively easy to use. I absolutely recommend splurging to hire the MAS service to make the transition easier. They can help teach your users how to use the program and they are able to quickly build jobs so you see an immediate impact. 

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I am not entirely sure if there was an evaluation as this was before my time, however, knowing management, I assume that they had many demos with other vendors as well but eventually chose SMA.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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DO
Data Management Services at a financial services firm with 51-200 employees
Real User
Great on-demand access with helpful email notifications and good File Water features

Pros and Cons

  • "File Watcher can run jobs when files are made available in a folder."
  • "We would like a display of the created date, created by, and last modified date, as well as modified by."

What is our primary use case?

We primarily use JHA SYMITAR Episys (Currently running through EASE). Our Episys server is now hosted at Symitar and they run most of our OpCon schedules, and we run a version of OpCon in-house and connect to the Episys server at Symitar through OpCon "Ease Connector". We've used Episys Batch/On-Demand in-house job scheduling (2014-2019) and Episys Batch/On-Demand Ease Connector job scheduling (2019-present). We also use OpCon to schedule non-related Episys jobs, such as file transfers to/from vendors. Everything is automated.   

How has it helped my organization?

It has eliminated the need for a full-time Operator. All Batch jobs are automatically scheduled. We do not have IT Operators overseeing Batch jobs. All FTP's are done through OpCon also. We have OpCon set to notify the team by email if any job fails, or notify front office staff when a job is completed. Some jobs are scheduled with the OpCon feature "File Watcher" and will run a job when a file is present in a Network folder - eliminating the need for intervention by staff. If files are not present when they should be, OpCon can be set to let you know a schedule is past normal run time.

What is most valuable?

On-Demand access allows the front office to run jobs on their own, making it unnecessary to contact IT when they need on-demand reports run.

We get email notifications for failed jobs, jobs completed, schedules past run time, etc.

File Watcher can run jobs when files are made available in a folder. 

What needs improvement?

We would like to keep a previous version of a job/schedule just like UC4 used to do. 

We would like a display of the created date, created by, and last modified date, as well as modified by.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've used the solution for 7 years, since September 2014, and I have used 5 OpCon in-house and 2 OpCon EASE Connectors.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability is excellent.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is excellent.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is excellent.

How was the initial setup?

The setup is a little complex. We couldn't have done it on our own. You must work with SMA to get set up and have training, but once you become familiar with it you should be good to go. The only time we consult them now is when we are upgrading to a new version. The instructions have never allowed us to do it on our own.

What about the implementation team?

We have an in-house team for the in-house version.

We needed the Symitar OpCon team to work with us when we switched to Symitar Ease and to document all the schedules/jobs. 

What was our ROI?

We could not work efficiently without OpCon. It eliminates the need for full-time operators.

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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reviewer1658715
User at a financial services firm with 51-200 employees
Real User
Removes tedious work, has a great workflow designer, and offers amazing service

Pros and Cons

  • "Having the jobs laid out while attaching dependencies is a nice addition to the program."
  • "The logs are a little daunting to look at the first few times, however, as you begin to understand what you're looking at, it becomes easier."

What is our primary use case?

We currently use Opcon for our daily job scheduling. We also use it to transfer files after jobs have been processed. Being able to let Opcon run these jobs and file transfers have saved us time daily.

How has it helped my organization?

It has saved our morning and evening shift time by processing tedious jobs so they're able to get more involved in other tasks. Soon we'll be able to roll it out to other departments and handle some of their tasks.  

What is most valuable?

The workflow designer is a wonderful feature to show to users. It seems so simple - and yet there's a lot going on which can be easily explained. Having the jobs laid out while attaching dependencies is a nice addition to the program. 

The service that they offer is amazing. Ryan Compton has helped me more times than I can count. He does a great job of explaining things and it has gone a long way.

What needs improvement?

The logs are a little daunting to look at the first few times, however, as you begin to understand what you're looking at, it becomes easier. 

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been using Opcon Since February 2021.

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

We switched to a different core and Opcon was definitely a better replacement for the solution that we were using. 

What other advice do I have?

For anyone interested in Opcon, make sure you have a few users in your company attend the training classes.

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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