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OpCon Room for Improvement

Senior Applications System Analyst at Frandsen Financial

The solution is what you want out of it. It's not something you can just quickly grab, try, run, and play with. You have to get the knowledge and train yourself. It was easy for me, but I also took the time to throw myself into it. There is a learning curve to a certain extent. You have to learn the rules. There are so many different ways that you can do things in it. If you were to survey five of my peers and me, I'm sure we all work on it differently. There is no one outcome of it. This is not to say that you can't pick it up out-of-the-box, but the way SMA trains you is on their standards of using it. You have to know the concepts of it, the different terms, and how you apply things. If you are using Windows, patch scripts, or mainframe things, it's not always an apples to apples thing. There's a bit of different translation into the product.

There is a current way to help hone in on detail that you are trying to visually show. For example, they have an add-in product (Vision) that we haven't purchased. The way the add-in product works is taking tagged data and categorizing it into a tiled report view.  It's actually live and constantly updating.  I like the visual / workflow side of OpCon, since I take the time to make it viewable from a visual standpoint.  Right now, I have a hard time if I want to translate what I'm doing to show folks who aren't users an overview. While I know SMA has an option for this, it's just more data. How can I show everything without my CIO needing to login to OpCcon and having me showing him the flowchart? A different way to report visually for other people to see processes would be my only improvement.

I would like to see more connectors to other various things. However, this has more to do with other vendors holding back with their applications.

Custom Templates for common jobs.  I do a lot of copying and pasting for jobs, that it would be easier if I could have my own templates.  Also Custom Documentation, that could flood to multiple job types vs. similar documentation on the same job being typed up.



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Director of IT at Frontwave Credit Union

As you're doing a scheduler, oftentimes you end up doing some of the same things over and over again as you define jobs. There are generally some well-used use tools available that the system can interact with. My suggestion is try to find ways to have built-in interactions with those pieces of software. As an IT person, and I say this with caution because I know what it means to code something to a piece of software you have no control over, I would like to have an interface with PowerShell.

PowerShell has a lot of functionality. We use it a lot because we're a Windows shop. Having a built-in tool or interface with PowerShell would go a long way. At the same time, it's not like I can't do it externally. This is probably more like a suggestion than it is a complaint. 

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EL
Director of Core Application Services at a financial services firm with 201-500 employees

It would be great if you could create physically separate "clients," as I call them. I wish I could have a production client and a testing client and that they would be separate. We have since upgraded our license model with SMA which allows us to license a test server, which will give us better flexibility for separating prod from dev.

I know that SMA is making a push to move everything into Solution Manager, a web-based interface with OpCon. Frankly, I will be sad to see the Enterprise Manager go away. Enterprise Manager is difficult to learn at first, but once you learn it, it's very powerful and very quick to get solutions in place, to troubleshoot, and to observe your production. I really like it.

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Learn what your peers think about OpCon. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: November 2021.
554,586 professionals have used our research since 2012.
TF
VP IT at a financial services firm with 11-50 employees

It is a complex product to use. Programming the schedules is complex. It does require training from OpCon. As an example, I went away for a week of training. The week after I came back from that, OpCon was onsite to set up our initial schedules. At that point, my systems administrator really took over. I should have sent him to the class, but it was good for me to learn the basics. A year later, my SA ended up going to an advanced class.

I haven't been on their website in a while, but I would like to see some online training, some videos. When I bring in a new employee — as an example, my helpdesk person is going to be moving into some network tasks, and she'll be working within OpCon down the road — it would be nice if there was some basic information for her to look at to understand this program. Even for my systems administrator, it would be helpful if there were tips and tricks available. We're always looking for more learning and more education on how we make the most out of this product. Whether it's online videos or periodic webinars that are accessible online at a later time if necessary, that would be great.

The only thing that OpCon cannot do is the following. OpCon runs a batch job on our core system that creates a file. That file needs to go to a third-party vendor. The only way to get it to that vendor is through their website which has a secure login. OpCon cannot log into a website. It only uses secure FTP. So every Wednesday morning, one of my employees has to take that file and manually log in to the website and upload it. We're waiting for that third-party company to come up with an SFTP solution. Once they do that, then things will be completely automated. I don't know how complex it would be for OpCon to log into a website, but pretty much everyone uses SFTP for file transfers these days.

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MT
Director of Production Control and Operations at NYSDOT

There's a large learning curve which, for some of our less technical staff, has been an issue. It's still new to us. Every week we're finding new ways of doing things with the product. What we miss the most is having an in-house expert whom we can call upon every single day. Literally, every single day, I or my staff have to go to the documentation and work out how a certain function works or why it reacted in a certain way. And that can take a lot of time and effort. But what has been beneficial is having SMA's 800 number which we call if we can't work it out ourselves. But many times we try to work it out ourselves rather than calling them up five to ten times a day.

We're converting 200 jobs at a time or 500 jobs at a time. We'll find out, once they're in place: "Oh, wow. There's a better way that we could have done that." And then we have to go back a little bit and figure out if we should have done it this way or scheduled it that way. It's a very powerful tool and we're not always choosing the right choice the first time through, when scheduling our work. That's why we miss having somebody onsite to say: "No, you really shouldn't have done it this way." We're actually finding out sometimes the hard way.

The calendar interface and the frequency interface is a very powerful, yet complex, section of OpCon in which all our staff have made mistakes. They have implemented what they believed was logically correct and then afterward discovered that their logic was flawed because OpCon did it a different way. That part, which is incredibly useful, is also incredibly dangerous. The interface or the ability to directly do more functions within the frequency definitely has room for expansion. As good as it is, it can be a lot better.

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IT Manager Business Solutions Delivery at CBC Federal Credit Union

Usage is a little complex. It's not like you can bring somebody in and they can just use it. They have to be trained. Our main OpCon person left and it's a lot harder for a lot of people. Once you have somebody leave, the next person has to step up and it is a little difficult. As far as complexity goes, it's right up there.

Once you get to know the platform, you do know how to troubleshoot. But there's just so much to learn. If you are properly trained, it is fairly easy to figure out problems and troubleshoot. SMA does offer certification and they also offer consulting hours, which we are using right now.

There is always a percentage of jobs where the batch automation doesn't work or something critical happens within the OpCon server that causes something to stall, and we have to troubleshoot.

Another area for improvement is within the notification and alerts. I'd like to see it get smarter with script-writing within OpCon to make it do more. There is some room for improvement there and that's why we got the consulting hours.

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MR
Operations Analyst - Primary OpCon at a financial services firm with 10,001+ employees

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

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RB
Vice President of Information Technology at a financial services firm with 201-500 employees

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

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

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ML
Data Center Manager at a insurance company with 1,001-5,000 employees

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

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

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

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NR
Senior Core Systems Specialist at a financial services firm with 201-500 employees

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

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

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SR
System Administrator at a financial services firm with 51-200 employees

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

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EJ
System Analyst at a financial services firm with 51-200 employees

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

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

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Manager, Computer Operations at a financial services firm with 501-1,000 employees

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

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

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Operations Manager at a construction company with 1,001-5,000 employees

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

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

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GH
Systems Developer at a financial services firm with 51-200 employees

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.

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LM
Manager at a financial services firm with 1,001-5,000 employees

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.

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MF
Core Application Programming Manager at a financial services firm with 201-500 employees

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.

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JL
Engineer at CONSEIL DÃPARTEMENTAL 83

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.

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TT
Computer Operations Manager at a financial services firm with 501-1,000 employees

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.

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Manager Applications Operation Group at Groupama Supports et 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.

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.

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IT Analyst I at REDWOOD CREDIT UNION

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.

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SE
IS Operations Manager at a financial services firm with 201-500 employees

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.

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IT Operations Systems Analyst Lead at Credit Human Federal Credit Union

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.

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Manager of Remote Services at Dow Chemical Employees Credit Union

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.

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CW
Senior Analyst at iQ Credit Union

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.

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BS
Information Systems Architect at Cornerstone Bank

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. 

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SP
AVP Operations at Dickinson Financial Corp.

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.

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Core Operations Analyst at a financial services firm with 201-500 employees

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. 

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CM
Application Support Analyst II at a manufacturing company with 1,001-5,000 employees

The system needs better communication, better advanced warning, and better stability with SQL database systems. The latter is the only Achilles heel to the software. The SQL database connections are the only time that we've had issues with reliability and stability of the software.

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AW
Unisys Infrastructure Support Specialist at a financial services firm with 10,001+ employees

The way to view a schedule is called perch view, and that's not always the greatest. It can be quite slow.

Any issues we did have with earlier releases have since been addressed in later releases.

We are looking at something called Solution Manager which comes with it, because we don't use that currently. This shows more performance and is an easier way to access them. You can also set trends and do more analyzing.

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EW
Systems Programmer at a insurance company with 1,001-5,000 employees

We cutover to OpCon from a previous solution approximately six weeks ago so we are still in the early stages of our implementation. That said it is difficult to ascertain what improvements could be made at this early stage.

If I had to select something I'd say that the web based interface, Solution Manager, should have more functionality. Enterprise Manager, the desktop interface is extremely powerful but SMA's strategic direction is Solution Manager. We have found it difficult to have people rely solely on Solution Manager.

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EMEA Datacenter & Network Operations Manager at a wholesaler/distributor with 1,001-5,000 employees

The SQL part could be improved. We sometimes have a large number of jobs on the SQL Server and we can experience a very light lag in job starts. The lag can be a few seconds. It's never more than one minute, but sometimes we can experience some lags. Maybe that could be improved.

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MB
Senior System Automation Analyst at a financial services firm with 501-1,000 employees
BH
Sr. Systems Programmer at a financial services firm with 201-500 employees

There are some limitations in the actual jobs that are created and how you're able to rename files. Suppose you're bringing in, say, 10, 15, or 20 reports from a core system, and you're using an "asterisk character" to identify files. For example, if you're grabbing files that start with this, end with this, but the characters in between could be different, it has to retain that same name in the destination. It won't allow you to rename them with a date stamp or the like.

We've gotten around that by writing PowerShell scripts that run after the files have been transferred, but it would be very nice if it had just the raw, built-in ability to rename multiple files with a date stamp added to them.

I've been pretty much been able to accomplish everything else with what it provides out-of-the-box.

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JP
AVP IT Operations at a financial services firm with 501-1,000 employees

I'd like to see the product include a view where you can see everything about a specific job on a single screen.

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PN
TitleApplication Specialist II at a financial services firm with 201-500 employees

I would like to see OpCon being accessible using a mobile app. This will increase the convenience for the administrator. Imagine it is a weekend and you are on call. A failure email was received. You will then need to grab your laptop, connect to VPN, and access the application to find out what is going on. If you are somewhere else, you will need to bring your laptop with you all the time. If the job can be fixed with few clicks, a mobile app will help the administrators to fix the job right away even if you do not have your laptop with you. 

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MN
National Monitoring, Capacity and Availability at a government with 10,001+ employees

I find the solution has quite a learning curve for beginners. It's challenging. I wouldn't rate it as super-easy to automate processes. It's medium-weight. I've used more complex software, but I've used simpler software.

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IT Manager at Pioneer Federal Credit Union

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. 

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RC
AVP of IT at a financial services firm with 51-200 employees

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.

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User at a financial services firm with 501-1,000 employees

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.

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CA
TitleSystem Administrator at a financial services firm with 201-500 employees

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.

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DO
Data Management Services at a financial services firm with 51-200 employees

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.

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User at a financial services firm with 51-200 employees

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. 

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Learn what your peers think about OpCon. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: November 2021.
554,586 professionals have used our research since 2012.