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OpCon OverviewUNIXBusinessApplication

OpCon is #2 ranked solution in top Workload Automation tools. PeerSpot users give OpCon an average rating of 10 out of 10. OpCon is most commonly compared to Control-M: OpCon vs Control-M. OpCon is popular among the small business segment, accounting for 66% of users researching this solution on PeerSpot. The top industry researching this solution are professionals from a computer software company, accounting for 25% of all views.
What is OpCon?

OpCon is a robust and flexible platform capable of scaling up to meet the needs of clients running 140,000+ daily jobs across multiple environments and operating systems. Our proven migration framework helps clients painlessly transition from outdated or cost inefficient platforms thanks to our deep organizational expertise, REST API, and extensive library of legacy connectors. We have a variety of consulting options available for clients and offer no-cost training for the life of the contract.

OpCon Buyer's Guide

Download the OpCon Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: April 2022

OpCon Customers

LOHR, Carnival Cruise Lines, Herbalife, Digital Federal Credit Union, Synergent, Frandsen Bank & Trust

OpCon Video

Archived OpCon Reviews (more than two years old)

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NickWilcox - PeerSpot reviewer
Senior Applications System Analyst at Frandsen Financial
Real User
It streamlined our processes allowing full-time employees to be repurposed
Pros and Cons
  • "We recently did a branch acquisition of another bank, though not a full bank. With that, we had to convert all of their ACH transactions. It was a very complicated product that we received from our core provider, Fiserv, for some translation programs. It was very cumbersome to run through the process, convert it out, get output files, etc. Without anyone touching it, I was able to automate the full process from pulling in the files from this other bank, converting everything needed, and posting it to our customer's account 24-hours throughout the day."
  • "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."

What is our primary use case?

We are an in-house Fiserv Premier bank. This solution allows us to automate a lot of the core processing. 

How has it helped my organization?

This is outside a bit of the day-to-day. We recently did a branch acquisition of another bank, though not a full bank. With that, we had to convert all of their ACH transactions. It was a very complicated product that we received from our core provider, Fiserv, for some translation programs. It was very cumbersome to run through the process, convert it out, get output files, etc. Without anyone touching it, I was able to automate the full process from pulling in the files from this other bank, converting everything needed, and posting it to our customer's account 24-hours throughout the day.

We run the ACH process around the Fed window about four times a day: 2:00 am, 10:00 am, 2:00 pm, and 7:00 pm. We are not staffed all those hours. If someone were to actually run through all those steps, it would take maybe 15 minutes per each file.  This is if someone were to manually do it. So, that adds up. The main thing is we can let it run at two in the morning without staff.  It of course ran in less than 10 minutes, since it was automated. 

The product allows our full-time employees to be repurposed, not eliminated. We turn ourselves from operators who used do everything to reacting or being proactive. 

We have a night operator whose whole evening was just initiating, running everything, and watching it. My predecessor and I have been doing a staggered approach, taking these tasks out of the night operator's hands and putting them into OpCon. This still gives her the control where she can initiate via the Self Service portal. Now, we're hitting that phase where I can start to let it run on its own. She's become more reactive with the handful of things that she's still doing.

Our night operator loves it. Granted, she is one of those people who is always up for change and improving things. The way that she used to run things in the IBM mainframe was more isolated. She would see the output as a whole: That process A and process B were running, but she didn't actually know the details. With OpCon, she likes to have it up to watch it (not that you have to have someone watch it closely). She uses OpCon because it is easier for her to troubleshoot if something were to come up by seeing where things are at, what step it is on, and observing colors change.

The team members' reaction to the change has all been positive. Everyone has a different feel for it, but everyone sees the positive. I do my best to put a positive spin on it. It's not so much taking anything away from anyone. It's just converting it into OpCon, running it, then determining, "Is intervention needed? Can it run on its own?" 

What is most valuable?

Anything that is file movement related is awesome. Whether you are outsourced or an on-prem in-house bank (like us), you're not just fully in-house anymore. There are so many different third-parties that you work with now. With the amount of files going back and forth between end users or simply from the core to different vendors, this is the best part about the solution, streamlining and letting it run. Whether that's constantly throughout the day, certain times of the day or month, or a specific 16th day of the month, that's probably the most helpful because there is no operator that you have to wait on. We can just push it through a traditional FTP or SMTP.

It's very helpful, as we can move quite a few files all at the same time from a server level instead of having someone at their workstation downloading a 100 files. E.g., I created a process with our recent branch acquisition that we did early last year, where files were moving between the acquiring bank (us) and the selling bank. I put on our Self Service portal buttons for execution, that said, "As file's become available..." Then, my conversion team could have access without waiting on me to pull in stuff. If they knew that the selling bank put out some large conversion files, they can go out and simply hit a button. It would go out, grab it, and in a matter of minutes, be available to them on our public shared drive versus trying to pull that down via a secure site. 

What needs improvement?

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.



For how long have I used the solution?

A little over two years now.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability is good. The only time we've ever had an issue was simply due to internal system issues. For example, we recently had something where our SQL Server had connection issue.  All systems were down. I've never (knock on wood) had an issue with any of the agents or application itself. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

70 percent of our manual day-to-day processes have been automated by OpCon. 30 percent of the overall daily and nightly processing take more time to do. Taking individual processes that were standalone and putting them in was one thing, but then taking and tying them altogether is that 30 percent. Basically, if you're taking the human element out of it, you have to build it so you are comfortable with it and can rely on it. That is where the time comes into it. I'm very thorough. I go through it and make sure I can cover common outcomes. For example, "Is this going to make sense? What if this happened?" You build in all this stuff so the way you rely on it, you do not have to worry about it. Whereas, with that human element, they know what to do and where to jump around. Someone who is seasoned will know how to make decisions along the way, and you have to sort of program some of that in. This doesn't apply for everything, but in some cases, it does. 

To get it expanded out to that additional 30 percent, it will probably be done in the next year with everything that is going on. Though, I would love to have it done in the next couple of months, but when an acquisition comes in, that is the priority.

I like going out throughout the entire bank and finding behind the scenes processes that other people are doing which we could help with. If it's just file movements, taking data that they are manipulating, moving things around, or simply just triggering a process, that is the fun side of my job. To sit down, look at a process, take it, and if I can, free up a quarter of someone's day by automating it, that is fun. Working with other departments in the bank, getting to learn a bit about their areas is a fun learning opportunity. Their tasks don't have to be automated either, it can be streamlined by giving them Self Service buttons. It is about making the task more efficient for the user.

The more things that are new and introduced in our environment, they go right into OpCon. It's more understanding, "How do does OpCon help us do that?" and, "Is there a tie in for it?" 

The scalability is huge.

I am the primary who maintains it. There are also two other individuals who are in a similar role to me: my immediate supervisor and another colleague. They both have access. My supervisor just relies on me to train him as needed, then the other colleague is able to jump in and interpret a lot of my stuff. However, we're divided. He's in charge of this and I am in charge of that, but we do cross-train. Beyond that, there is a night operator. She is Tier 1 support. She can help react to job failures and work on smaller things. If it's above her, then she defers it to me.

There are three different departments who use the Self Service besides us. They don't use the automation side of it, though. They use the Self Service to run a process or generate something. This is mainly our accounting department. They are very tied into it, but they don't see the automation side of it. They just know that they need to push a button and things happens. Also, our item processing area and the conversion team use the Self Service.

How are customer service and technical support?

You have to put the effort into the training and learning. SMA is big on free training. They do monthly training down at their headquarter office. As long as you own the product, the only thing you pay for is your employees' travel expenses. The training is free. They are willing to train people and give them the knowledge. That way, you are equipped to do what you need to do. Then, obviously, they're available for support and assistance from there, but it's only for what you need above and beyond on that.

The technical support is good. I don't use it that often because they're very good about training you. It's more if I have a question, or something small comes up, then I can open a case. Otherwise, I have what they call blocks of hours. E.g., if I'm scratching my head or trying to think through how do I want to develop something? Then, I tap into my block of hours with a dedicated specialist who is assigned for our bank. It all depends on what's going on. If it's something brand new or different that I'm doing, then I'll touch base with them and run it by them. Otherwise, the block of support hours is mainly for upgrades and stuff like that.

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

Before, we did use file transfer stuff, which was a bunch of "if" and "then" statements. We were executing with that. But, that was very limited to what the application could do. Whereas, OpCon is a whole different game changer of what you can do from an enterprise level.

As a bank, there used to be a lot of full-time employees who would just run checklists all day doing manual steps. Whereas, with this product, we can automate the full day to a certain extent. There is still some intervention or items that are more user driven. Instead of our operators running the day-to-day, they just initiate certain phases of it. Then, we rely heavily on the Self Service portal and building out that stuff for our operators to use. They very much enjoy that.

Prior to OpCon, the organization used a lot of scripting in its own server. A big selling point for OpCon was its automation on an enterprise level. Converting everything to OpCon moved everything to one place. 

The nice thing at Frandsen is management sees the need and results of all the automation. They took an investment with my predecessor buying the product and we continue to see great results.

How was the initial setup?

I was not here for this bank's initial setup, but I was previously involved with the setup of OpCon at another bank.

I've worked at five different banks and each bank operates differently in the way they have things locked down or how things are completed for projects. The setup was pretty straightforward. You just get the database and application up and running, and then, the mainframe agent up and running, which is especially important for a bank,. 

The database and mainframe side of the setup are always sort of tricky no matter what application you're working with, but it was pretty straightforward. It was up and running, then we trained and helped start to set up things for how we wanted to move forward. So, I thought it was good.

The deployment took about a day, but the bank that I worked for was very locked down when, e.g., trying to get things to open up and the right resources from SQL DBA. But, the actual application on the mainframe side, that's a no-brainer and seamless.

It took a couple weeks to deploy our first process because you have to test and get comfortable with it. We only automated a couple core things at the time because the main focus of getting OpCon in the bank was that they wanted a very cumbersome process streamlined.

At my current organization, I know that deploying the first process took them a couple months because they wanted to a lot of testing before they implemented it.

My implementation strategy is going for the easy stuff first to get a feel for it. Then, I can quickly turn things around on a small scale. Afterwards, I will graduate to that larger scale. With each implementation that I did, I evolved myself and how I wanted to do it, what I learned, etc. Because the other bank versus this bank were on two different mainframes, I had to translate a bit and think through things differently. I like doing the smaller things first, but now that I'm two and a half years into it overall, I can chew off the big things right away too. I'm not afraid of them, and they're fun, exciting, and more thrilling than the easier stuff.

What about the implementation team?

We deployed it ourselves.

To deploy OpCon, you just need someone who is fluent on SQL DBA. SMA tells you there are two different approaches: If you want a whole group of people to help or if you want a train the trainer approach. 

What was our ROI?

When you take the human element out of it, someone is not interrupted nor are they delayed. They are not hung up on another thing that they are already working on. That's the nice thing about OpCon. We have the time to react to things and are not holding things up. So, if you add up those 10 minutes 15 times a day for our processes, that's quite a bit, especially for the repetitive stuff. It's easy to automate it, then it just does what you need it to do. It just runs. 

This has overall reduced our data processing times in our environment by approximately 50 percent. The nice thing is we can spread work out. If you need to have employees onsite for the ACH processing, someone has to come in early, then probably stay a bit late on that end of the shift. Now, we're spreading it out. With the ACH, if you're doing it with just an employee, then you're only doing it during working hours. Now, we can run things over a 24-hour span, spreading it out. 

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

There are different add-ons, like the Self Service or Vision model. It all depends on what agents you have in your environment. We have a mainframe and Windows, and while I think SQL is free, SAP or anything beyond that has different connectors that might need a license.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

At my previous company, we did not look at other solutions because we knew SMA was the most well-known within our industry. 

At my current bank, they did look at HelpSystems. It was between HelpSystems or SMA OpCon. Ultimately, they went with OpCon.

What other advice do I have?

Take your time. Think about it. Once you start to create different concepts and learn them, come up with naming conventions, your own rules, and go by them. This way, everything is similar. It's easier for me to train my operators if it all looks the same.

Ease of use depends on how you set it up. It is there, but it all depends on what you want to do with it and how much time you want to put into it. If you just want to move some files around and keep things looking the same, it is easy to use. But, if you want to do some tricky stuff, you have to put some time into it, making it look clean and understandable for you and everyone else. You also have to document a bit, but that is sort of case by case.

I come up with rules, trends, conventions, prefixes, etc. that I'll find sometimes six months later. Then, I'm like, "Ah, I like this a lot better. I'm going to set this as my own standard going forward." I am evolving myself and constantly making it easier for me to use.

The solution expands my creativity when looking at processes.

I would rate the solution a nine (out of 10). It is in its own league. OpCon makes my job so much easier. SMA is a great company and partner.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: PeerSpot 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.
Operations Analyst - Primary OpCon at a financial services firm with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Customers are happy because jobs are not missing that they wanted run at specific times
Pros and Cons
  • "It makes everything simpler. Once OpCon is in, it just repeats itself day after day. We don't have to worry about whether a process will be missed. It will run every single time. We are not dropping jobs or missing stuff. When you have multiple institutions, it's very easy to miss jobs. You get on a roll, start doing things, and then forget somebody. With OpCon, everything is done."
  • "There is room for improvement needed around setting up the calendars and frequencies. I would like more flexibility in what jobs run. Sometimes, with frequencies, I can't find what I want to without putting a little more labor into it."

What is our primary use case?

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

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

How has it helped my organization?

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

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

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

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

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

What is most valuable?

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

What needs improvement?

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

For how long have I used the solution?

Since 2007.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

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

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

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

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

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

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

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

How are customer service and technical support?

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

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

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

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

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

How was the initial setup?

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

It took us minutes to automate our first process.

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

What about the implementation team?

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

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

What was our ROI?

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

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

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

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

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

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

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

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

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

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

What other advice do I have?

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

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

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

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

Disclosure: PeerSpot 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.
Buyer's Guide
OpCon
April 2022
Learn what your peers think about OpCon. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: April 2022.
595,546 professionals have used our research since 2012.
Nicolas VERNOUX - PeerSpot reviewer
EMEA Datacenter & Network Operations Manager at a wholesaler/distributor with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Versatility enables us to schedule everything we want in many kinds of environments
Pros and Cons
  • "When a lot of jobs are scheduled on different platforms, without any interaction possible between them, it's very difficult to manage things. With OpCon we avoid this difficulty. It's very visual."
  • "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."

What is our primary use case?

We use OpCon for scheduling production tasks in many kinds of environments. The main ones are located on i5 i-series, OS/400. But we also use it in our Windows environment and on SAP. It handles around 10,000 jobs a day for us.

A lot of the jobs that are now in OpCon were already automated, but they were on other platforms and systems. For example, the world production batch that is running on OS/400 was automated on OS/400, with OS/400 programs. We moved the automation of the system to OpCon. We improved some of the parts, but we kept the main core of the production plan.

How has it helped my organization?

Using OpCon has brought us better visibility into our world production tasks. This is the essential point in my opinion, because when a lot of jobs are scheduled on different platforms, without any interaction possible between them, it's very difficult to manage things. With OpCon we avoid this difficulty. It's very visual.

Many of the tasks of one of our ERP systems, the invoicing and so on, are managed by OpCon. All the BI jobs that run on a daily, weekly, or a monthly basis, launch from OpCon and it gives us the capability of doing very clear follow-up.

We are a small company so we don't think about it in terms of how much it has freed up employees. But it has helped us to share responsibilities with a third-party in charge of the 24/7 monitoring of our system. In that way it has saved time, at least for our infrastructure team.

In addition, because we can manage each type of trigger differently, that alone helps save time.

What is most valuable?

  • It's very scalable.
  • We have experienced very few lags or issues, so it's very stable. 
  • It's a very versatile product. You can schedule everything you want in many kinds of environments. We have never faced a limitation in this regard.
  • The support is very responsive as well. They have replied to all our questions on time.

What needs improvement?

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.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using OpCon for about eight years.

How are customer service and technical support?

We have a very good relationship with them. We have known them now for a lot of years and they always reply to our problems and questions. They always have a solution, although we really haven't had a lot of problems with the product.

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

Our system analysts requested it, so it was easy for us. They are happy now to have it available and to use it on a daily basis.

How was the initial setup?

We had the help of the Professional Services of SMA, but the setup was not difficult. The technical installation did not take more than one day.

Our strategy was to merge all activity, from everywhere in our environment, and to have everything running from the same place.

What was our ROI?

Our ROI is that it has saved about 10 percent of one FTE.

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

The cost is based on the number of jobs. You pay for what you use. For us, the support cost is between €20,000 and €30,000 per year. It's too expensive.

There are no additional costs.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

There were only two solutions on the short-list. We did a lot of research on the internet about other companies, but a proof of concept was only done with Dollar Universe and OpCon. We choose OpCon because Dollar Universe had some issues regarding OS/400 at the time we tested it. That was close to 10 years ago, so maybe it's better now.

What other advice do I have?

In terms of the extent of use of OpCon, I could see us using it for other stuff, but for the moment it's complete, as far as our production plans go. We don't have new directions or a new environment planned. Maybe, if it is possible to schedule things in the cloud, for example, in the future, we would do so. I don't think it's possible now to schedule things in the cloud, like Office for 365.

The ease of use depends on the person who is using it. For me, I learned it very fast. I found the product very user-friendly because it has the ability to add jobs for OS/400, and not all products have that kind of functionality. And that's true for SAP, for example. It's relatively simple to use if you have time to manage it on a daily basis. If not, it's very difficult to understand how it works.

Although it is possible with the product, at this time we haven't given access to the solution to all our people, those who are on the functional teams. For now, it's restricted to the technical team only. There are 10 or 12 people using it out of 2,200 employees. The majority of the users are system administrators.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: PeerSpot 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.
AVP Operations at Dickinson Financial Corp.
Real User
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: PeerSpot 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 - PeerSpot reviewer
Core Operations Analyst at a financial services firm with 201-500 employees
Real User
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: PeerSpot 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.
National Monitoring, Capacity and Availability at a government with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Job dependencies, auditing, and notifications are the key features for us
Pros and Cons
  • "We have found it scales very well. We run thousands of thousands of jobs every day, and sometimes thousands of jobs in a few hours."
  • "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."

What is our primary use case?

We use it for batch processing and online processing.

I work for a government department which represents 43 sub-departments, so our department literally has thousands of systems. We have about 25,000 automated jobs set up in OpCon, but I don't know what percentage that would represent, overall, of the jobs in the 43 departments.

How has it helped my organization?

I can't really provide many metrics showing the way OpCon has improved our organization functions because we have been using the product since 1997. So any metrics we would have had before we started using the product would be relatively useless because of how much we've increased our production loads since 1997.

The solution has definitely streamlined our operations and makes onboarding of new applications very easy. And OpCon has most certainly freed up some 50 to 75 employees to do more meaningful work as a result of automation.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features for us are

  • job dependencies
  • auditing
  • notification
  • robustness. 

Those are things we rely on all the time.

What needs improvement?

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.

For how long have I used the solution?

I was involved in supporting the solution for about 14 years. When I stopped supporting it, we were on version 16. Our organization still uses it and we're into version 18, in production, now. I installed and fixed any issues with OpCon and was a liaison between the vendor and the users.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's extremely stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have found it scales very well. We run thousands of thousands of jobs every day, and sometimes thousands of jobs in a few hours. We do use it extensively, and we use it for mission-critical processes.

How are customer service and technical support?

The tech support has been excellent. They're the best that I've dealt with in 25 years of supporting software.

We've had a close relationship with SMA, the vendor, and they've been very attentive. We have made requests in the past for added features, and they've been very responsive and put them in.

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

We didn't have a previous automation tool at an enterprise level.

How was the initial setup?

Back then, the setup was complex because of the number of processes that we initially automated. Our initial deployment took about five months. The installation of the software took a day, and then we spent several months creating our automation, within the tool.

What about the implementation team?

We had the help of SMA and used our internal resources.

What was our ROI?

We have seen a return on investment from OpCon.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We did an RFC and had vendors bid, but I was not part of that process.

What other advice do I have?

My advice would be to invest in education on use of the product and I would recommend planning the deployment, and administrating users and roles, carefully and thoughtfully. A careful implementation of roles and responsibilities for the users of OpCon will save you some issues in the future. 

We don't have a high number of users of the product, although we have a high number of processes that are defined within it. Our actual user base is closer to 50 specialists. 

In terms of deployment and maintenance, we have about two-and-a-half employees involved. Their roles would include upgrading the software and installing the agent software throughout the organization. They are also responsible for identifying any software bugs, memory leaks, or issues within the software itself. And because they know the product so well, they're often called on to troubleshoot automation logic.

The biggest lesson I've learned using OpCon is that you can automate more than you think you can.

Overall, I would rate the solution a nine out of 10. If somehow they could improve the user interface to be somewhat more intuitive, that would help. Our users find it overwhelming and it has quite a fairly steep learning curve to begin automating jobs. It's like sitting in the cockpit of an airplane: You're doing something complicated.

But I love the product and I love the company.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: PeerSpot 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.
Senior Analyst at iQ Credit Union
Real User
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: PeerSpot 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.
RonBroaddus - PeerSpot reviewer
Systems Director at a financial services firm with 51-200 employees
Real User
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: PeerSpot 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.
Senior Core Systems Specialist at a financial services firm with 201-500 employees
Real User
It has allowed more time for our staff to work on projects which affect our organization
Pros and Cons
  • "It has streamlined operations, specifically with the timing of our processes. We don't have to worry about if things are going to run at a certain time. The automation allows us to say, "Okay, we want this to run at this time, and this to not run until that is done." So, it has really streamlined the accuracy and timeline of when jobs run throughout the day."
  • "It does not have the ability to interact with third-parties via the web/Internet. We have certain processes where we have to interact with a third-party on a website, and unfortunately OpCon just cannot do that."

What is our primary use case?

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

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

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

How has it helped my organization?

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

We are about 92 percent automated right now.

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

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

What is most valuable?

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

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

What needs improvement?

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

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

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using OpCon for 11 years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

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

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

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

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

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

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

How are customer service and technical support?

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

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

OpCon was our first workload automation tool.

How was the initial setup?

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

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

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

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

What about the implementation team?

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

What was our ROI?

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

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

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

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

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

What other advice do I have?

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

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

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

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

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: PeerSpot 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.
AVP IT Operations at a financial services firm with 501-1,000 employees
Real User
Metrics on how long automations take enable us to rearrange them rapidly to get them completed faster
Pros and Cons
  • "The ability to chain jobs together allows us to create complex interdependencies between our jobs, and the integration into our core system is important because it allows us, through an automated system, to do a huge number of things that used to be done manually."
  • "I'd like to see the product include a view where you can see everything about a specific job on a single screen."

What is our primary use case?

We use OpCon as our central scheduling system. It runs a bunch of automations for our core system as well as for any automated system that needs to be scheduled.

How has it helped my organization?

OpCon has eliminated man-hours spent doing repetitive things, and it's also made our execution much more reliable. To do what we are doing currently, it would take at least four or five people, full-time. Clearly, we've cut a bunch of FTEs out of the equation, so that has been a big deal. They have been reassigned to other things. Everybody loves it because they're able to now work on higher-value things.

It also allows us to see metrics of how long our automations take, and control or manage to that to those durations, so we're able to reorganize and rearrange things at a rapid pace to get them completed faster.

We have automated thousands of processes using OpCon. I believe we've automated 100 percent of our processing. I can't think of anything we're doing manually.

In addition, OpCon has reduced our data processing times by, as an estimate, 25 to 30 percent.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features are 

  • the ability to chain jobs together 
  • the integration into Symitar. At the end of the day, that's what makes the big deal for us.

The ability to chain jobs together allows us to create complex interdependencies between our jobs, and the integration into our core system is important because it allows us, through an automated system, to do a huge number of things that used to be done manually.

It is as easy to use as it should be. There is a learning curve, but that's because it's a powerful system.

What needs improvement?

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

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been using OpCon for more than 10 years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability of OpCon as a solution is excellent. We never have any issues with its stability.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have had no issues with scalability. 

We have plans to increase our usage of it. It's primarily used in IT and programming, but it is automating jobs that are requested by, and the results are used by, everyone else in the company. We have automated processes for the lending department as well as branching, account services; everyone.

We have five to seven people who use it on a daily basis. They are either OpCon developers or programmers who are testing new deployments. We need less than one person for OpCon system administration.

How are customer service and technical support?

SMA's technical support for this solution is excellent. They are responsive, they are knowledgeable, and they've always been able to address our questions, which is impressive.

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

We did not have a previous solution. Our company went with OpCon because it has a very tight integration to our core system.

How was the initial setup?

I was not around for the setup and it's been so long since it was done that I don't think our experience would be indicative for anybody else.

For the most part, upgrades are pretty straightforward. And they've been pretty solid too. We generally do them with the help of SMA consultants.

What was our ROI?

We have absolutely seen return on investment with OpCon. We've eliminated the FTEs. We have increased the speed at which our automations run, so we're in nightly processing for a shorter period of time. We've been able to run more fraud tests and to run control reports on the nightly run than we would be able to run manually, so that we can identify problem areas or fraud and address them immediately. We use it for all sorts of things.

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

I believe our cost is about $150,000 annually.

There are add-ons you can buy, which have an additional cost, including products and Professional Services.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We really have not evaluated other options. It is the state of the art for our core system, and we have been happy with it.

What other advice do I have?

The biggest lesson I have learned is that using an automation system like OpCon forces us to really understand the business object of a goal we are trying to accomplish and to be able to articulate it clearly and precisely.

Automating your operational tasks the way that OpCon does is absolutely a better way to do it than any manual system that you may have in place.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: PeerSpot 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.
JoeRocco - PeerSpot reviewer
Operations Manager at a construction company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
I've gained back two full-time employees to use in other areas
Pros and Cons
  • "The stability of this solution is awesome. It's the only product I've ever seen that you can actually build to fix itself if it has a problem. You'll build something and, if you find an issue, you can say, 'Hey, if this happens again, do this to correct it.'"
  • "At first, it's a little clunky, but once you learn it, it actually is very simple. You have to get over that initial learning hump."

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case is file movement.

How has it helped my organization?

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

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

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

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

What is most valuable?

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

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

What needs improvement?

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

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

For how long have I used the solution?

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

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

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

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

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

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

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

How are customer service and technical support?

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

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

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

How was the initial setup?

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

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

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

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

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

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

What about the implementation team?

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

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

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

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

What other advice do I have?

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

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

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

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

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

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Computer Operations Manager at a financial services firm with 501-1,000 employees
Real User
Simple to use and allows us to schedule jobs with varying frequencies while preventing manual errors
Pros and Cons
  • "The greatness of it is the flexibility of the scheduling and the integration of all platforms and processes. We have integrated it with everything from AIX to Microsoft Servers; with pretty much anything that we can."
  • "Some additional logging-information reporting would also help. They have all the information there but you still have to search around and look back. It's not right there for you, where you click and can get the reporting. You have to know the system and do some additional searches. So reporting is another area that they can build on by simplifying it."

What is our primary use case?

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

How has it helped my organization?

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

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

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

What is most valuable?

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

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

What needs improvement?

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

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

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

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

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been using OpCon for over five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

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

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

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

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

How are customer service and technical support?

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

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

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

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

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward.

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

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

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

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

What about the implementation team?

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

What was our ROI?

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

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

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

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

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

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

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

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

What other advice do I have?

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

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

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

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

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
TobyFinnegan - PeerSpot reviewer
Director of IT at Frontwave Credit Union
Real User
Reliable, consistent solution that simplifies our processes
Pros and Cons
  • "The solution has streamlined operations. We have written custom jobs to do particular things, but OpCon is definitely the one that manages running them at particular times. Often times, those jobs have to run after hours. So while we still develop and spend time and man-hours writing code, once it's done, OpCon is running that in the afternoons or evenings. This is usually done during off hours when a person would normally be required to be here and do it. Instead, OpCon is available, consistent, reliable and easy to get things in and working quickly once we develop and get them working. OpCon takes care of the entire process, including notifications that we define if something were to happen so we know what to do next. Again, it's simplifies the entire process."
  • "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."

What is our primary use case?

We use it predominantly, and almost exclusively, for core processing with our financial system.

How has it helped my organization?

OpCon makes it so we are lights-out for most of our morning and evening processes. 

It makes it super easy to notify us when something is wrong. It allows us to incorporate a wide range of custom processes or notifications. It's pretty agnostic in terms of how it does things. It doesn't matter how you've been doing things. As long as it can be called and given a command line parameter or interface parameter of some sort, it works really well. The biggest attractor is it allows us to incorporate so many different processes that wouldn't normally work together, making it a seamless schedule of events that happens and is really easy to both manage, update, change, and review. It's just a really slick piece of software that makes things super easy.

From the sixth through the 17th, that is where we have some sort of processes that have been out for the day. We have 324 schedules, 177 subschedules, and 2,996 jobs defined. Everyday, we have about 30 different processes defined. On special days, like end of month, first of the month, etc., we have a lot of stuff to find in there, which means there's no person doing it. It's all done by the system, taking that workload off of having a person. We are able to make sure that we have people concentrate on the things that really require a person and not the remedial tasks. This has been a huge advantage to having the software.

Our manual processing has been automated in the realm of 70 percent by this solution. There are only a few things that we still do which require a human touch.

The solution has streamlined operations. We have written custom jobs to do particular things, but OpCon is definitely the one that manages running them at particular times. Often times, those jobs have to run after hours. So while we still develop and spend time and man-hours writing code, once it's done, OpCon is running that in the afternoons or evenings. This is usually done during off hours when a person would normally be required to be here and do it. Instead, OpCon is available, consistent, reliable and easy to get things in and working quickly once we develop and get them working. OpCon takes care of the entire process, including notifications that we define if something were to happen so we know what to do next. Again, it's simplifies the entire process.

The solution freed up employees to do more meaningful work as a result of automation. However, tasks like managing user credentials, permissions, or access takes a human eye to determine what to do next unless it's something very straightforward. I can't really have OpCon go through and determine that user X needs to be moved to group Y unless it's a scripted piece. That still takes a human eyes and is done by people. OpCon has taken away things that happen repetitively every day, regardless of what's going on. It has definitely allowed us to separate those two process.

We have three employees (four including myself) who have been doing these processes in some capacity in the system. The workload that I would normally be doing, I push a lot of those jobs over into this and define a lot of them. Probably anywhere from 20 to 30 percent of what I do, I've been able to offload in OpCon. For the other staff, the evening and morning procedures are the biggest in terms of freeing up time because these are the things that we do before we open and after we close. Of those processes, nearly 90 percent of what we would normally have done with a person have been moved over.

Our employees are happier doing things that require them to think. When you're doing the same task over and over again, it's pretty remedial. It is nice to have a system take care of that for you. People tend to want to be able to think about what they are doing and have some brain processing going on instead of doing simple data entry. Overall, I expect that they're happier about the piece that they're working on versus doing the things that OpCon never complains about, which is the same thing every day.

What is most valuable?

  • Scheduling
  • Job concurrency
  • Failover
  • Failed job notifications 

The schedule processing is our biggest reason for using it.

What needs improvement?

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. 

For how long have I used the solution?

The solution was purchased before I got to the company, which was in April 2012,

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability is near perfect. I won't say it is perfect, but I've never had a database error (knock on wood), corruption, or system loss that wasn't due to something else, like a power failure. The software has always operated. It always returns appropriate messages. It's very reliable.

The director of IT and a data center analyst are the ones who manage it overall. We write the jobs. We do the initial QA, essentially maintaining the system directly.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I know that we use only a portion of what is available. While we do a lot in it, we don't actually do any multinet code. We're very limited on most of our processing, which is sequential, since we are a financial institution. Almost all of our schedules are: job one, job two, then job three. This is versus doing a lot of submitting of maybe hundreds or thousands of jobs at one time every few minutes. We're really linear, so we're not even using the full capacity of the scheduler, which allows for things where you do several different nodes producing different jobs at different intervals which all interact or don't interact. We don't do that. We're pretty straightforward.

We have four people who directly use it. We then have a group of about six individuals who use the extended version. This is an interface that goes through a web browser that then pulls jobs and runs them.

The direct users are called computer operators. They are the ones who run jobs on the core financial system, which is what this is primarily doing. They will interact with failed jobs. They will, in some cases, manually start jobs and review processing to ensure things are working as expected. There are two subsets of those individuals that actually create new jobs and make changes. The additional six people that I mentioned are just users. They will go in and specifically call a select number of jobs to start processing in any particular process.

We have small plans to increase usage. It comes down to whether or not it can be fully automated and does it benefit the institution as well as us to automate it. In some cases, it's a very small task where you're maybe modifying a file and sending it somewhere. That may or may not be easy to automate. In which case, I am less inclined to put it in because it takes too much time to build up. Other times, it's a process that gets filed from a vendor or posted to the core, then sends out an automated report. Those are the things that I like to put in it because I don't want to touch it at all. Therefore, it really depends on the complexity of the process, then the value of automating it. 

Overall, we are primarily focused on things that relate to our financial activity. There are 10 to 15 percent of the jobs that we have defined that don't do something directly related to the financial system. That probably will increase over time, but not nearly as much as what we do for the financial system.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support is very high in terms of quality and response. I have open up maybe four or five tickets over the course of a year. The type of tickets that I open are either clarification on a new feature or a request for support on doing an upgrade, and that's just to make sure I have someone to fall back on since we have never had an issue. The last ticket I open typically every year is a status update on our new license after renewing. So, it's pretty limited on what we ask for. Again, we're sort of a specialty organization. Being a credit union, an automation of jobs is generally focused around the financial system with most of our jobs being linear. This kind of limits the complications that we've run into. For us, the support has been a great resource that we rarely call.

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

On a scale of one to 10, where 10 is simple, super easy, and effective, that's what I would give it. At my prior work, we had another scheduler, and it was okay. It did its thing, but OpCon is, by far, super awesome.

The solution I used previously was called ISE, and it was related to another core provider and the solution that they provided. This was probably at least 10 years ago. I switched because I came to this institution who was using SMA before I got here. So, I adopted it simply because it was the resource that we had. I don't regret it one bit.

I'm kind of jaded now because I've been using this solution for so long. My previous solution was obviously an older version, so I'm comparing against something from way back when it was more convoluted. It was harder to get the results that I wanted from the interactions with different jobs. Having used OpCon for the last eight years, I'm familiar with how all the different pieces of how I set something up. It's super easy to set things up. At this time, I don't know that I have a good comparison against another software.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was pretty straightforward. It's a nice piece of software that gets installed. There's a database configuration with a the support crew. 

We scheduled the deployment for a day, and it took just a few hours.

It didn't take so long to put it together. It was pretty simplistic. It took maybe 30 minutes to an hour to get something in there and test it out to the point where we were happy with how it was operating, then using it going forward and making any changes. Initially, it probably took 30 to 60 minutes to get something in there (the first time). That's mostly going through testing as well as developing. It isn't just putting it in there. Putting it in there, you could probably get a reasonable schedule defined in less than 10 minutes. But, if you're talking about running it, fixing errors, etc. related to scripts, not necessarily related OpCon, it takes probably about 30 to 60 minutes. Nowadays, setting something up, it takes me less than 10 minutes to define a simple or basic process.

What about the implementation team?

The deployment was all internal; it was the staff here. We educated ourselves. We didn't even go through any formal training. We had a few remedial schedules that had been built before I started with the help of SMA just to define a few processes. From there, we used those as an example for QA, testing, etc. to find out what worked best for us. We developed those through actual use and best practices internally.

The way it was initially set up, support crew got in and validated the installation that the database was correctly set up and the interaction between the software and database was good. It was pretty straightforward and smooth. We did an upgrade. We paid for SMA to do a review of our system, as well, to ensure the upgrade was good, and there were no issues with that. It was a pretty clean install, and it worked out really well.

Our implementation strategy was mostly to define the processes that required no interaction from a person to begin with and create those jobs and schedules in OpCon, then test them out. From there, we would move onto more complex processes that may have required file drops or something like that. So, there was a trigger. Initially though, it was just to find the jobs that could be done right now that required no interaction and have those all implemented, tested, and working, then move into a more complex mode. Over the course of three to four months, we moved from having basic jobs to adding in a bit more complexity, then flushing out the defined larger shifts, like morning and evening.

What was our ROI?

It has reduced data processing time for some processes in the upwards of 50 percent. This is because the amount of time it takes someone to go in and type something or copy/move something over has exponentially increased. It's faster when the system is doing it because you don't have to wait for user input, so it's not necessarily that the overall process has gotten faster because searching for things or making documents still takes time. It's just the system, when it's through an automated scheduler, can go a lot faster because it can do all these things faster, not necessarily because the process itself has improved. There is definitely time savings.

If we're talking about posting a particular file, then that will definitely be done in the system a lot faster because there is no user input. As soon as the next is available, it is off to the next process. Whereas, if your user were doing it, there's evaluation, checking to make sure it worked right, and looking at some of the output. All this can be evaluated by the system very quickly, so it definitely has increased the time. I can think of one example where a morning process, back when we did a lot of it by hand, probably took anywhere from 30 to 40 minutes. Now, we're talking about 10 minutes flat.

The cost of ownership for what we have now means that I don't have to have another full body. What I pay for this software is at least one-third of what I would pay for a full body. That's a direct cost savings.

Before the solution was fully flushed out, we had someone here until well after closing and at the end of every month when we have special processing. So, there is someone always processing at the end of the month. It was a drag on both staff and personnel because anyone who did processing during end of the month or during those off times would not be here during the week at certain times or come in later. Therefore, the scheduling was sort of off. The morning process is still one where we have some additional things required of them, but the evening is totally lights out. Once we close business for the day, it's about an hour, then the staff member goes home and nobody is here. The system takes care of the rest. We've definitely seen that return, as we don't have to have that dedicated person in the evening.

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

It is a pricey solution. Comparatively speaking, you can certainly find schedulers which are cheaper. In some cases, you can find ones that are free or use free solutions. However, OpCon is by far the superior quality product, and you pay for that. This also has a cost savings associated with an FTE, so you can more than outweigh the cost of the solution if you were to reduce the staff that you have onsite. Plus, this means that you don't need to have someone during irregular hours.

One of the things that I run into is when you have staff that work irregular hours, this means you don't have that same staff (or that same availability) during the time when people are here. When people call on the phone, they don't want to talk to a system. They want to talk to a person. I would much rather pay to have a person here than have a person here during off-hours when there is nobody calling. The cost savings, removing the FTE, and having the system process everything automatically, as well as give me notifications in the same way that it does it everyday and I can always expect it at the same time, that is phenomenal.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I came in after it was already purchased and in place. If I remember correctly, the CIO did the evaluation. This product was making the rounds. It was heralded by other institutions and had a good reputation.

What other advice do I have?

The cost is just shy of $20,000. That's for two licenses annually, production, and failover.

Spend time flushing out the processes that you want. Add everything you possibly can so you don't have to do it.

Look hard at the solution that you want. I highly suggest looking at OpCon. Frankly, that's all I ever tell people about when they talk about the scheduling. I ask if they're on OpCon and if they know about it. 

Overall, I don't really have any complaints. The system does exactly what I want it to do. In this current iteration. If it never changed, it still does what I need it to do, and it does it the way I want it to happen. I'm content with the way it operates. 

I would rate it a 10 (out of 10). It doesn't have to have another version increase. It doesn't have to add any change to complete what I need it to do right now. If it stayed exactly the same, I would still be happy.

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.
Application Support Analyst II at a manufacturing company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Streamlined ops by enabling end-users to run things without getting permission within the host system
Pros and Cons
  • "It allows us to have more information and more control than we previously had over the processes that are running in host systems."
  • "The SQL database connections are the only time that we've had issues with reliability and stability of the software."

What is our primary use case?

We're a credit union, so we use it for daily operations. We have over 1,700 jobs automated. We are still working on it. The list is growing every day. I add two or three whole, automated processes — schedules with projects — every two weeks.

How has it helped my organization?

This isn't our first automated system, so it's hard to say how it's improved anything. The best thing is that the communication with our host system is better. It allows us to have more security. It allows us to have more information and more control than we previously had over the processes that are running in host systems. That has been an improvement.

This solution has streamlined operations by giving end-users the ability to run things without having to get permission within the host system. That eliminated the need for other departments to have to send messages to operators in IT to run processes and host. Now we can give them access to run very specific jobs without giving them access to those systems.

It has also freed up employees to do more meaningful work as a result of automation. There are multiple departments within this organization. We use it throughout the organization so it's huge; it has affected hundreds. The employees, as far as I can tell, are okay with it. They like it. I don't have a lot of contact with end-users after the development is over, so there may be different ideas, but I haven't had any complaints.

What is most valuable?

All of the features are important. The best thing about it is the communication listing.

There's a learning curve, but it's a fairly easy system to use. It doesn't require a lot of technical skill.

What needs improvement?

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.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been using OpCon for three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability is really good.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is vastly scalable. We've grown up to 1,700 jobs and it hasn't had any problems. As we grow, with each development, we're learning more about its capabilities and pushing limits of what we feel is safe, and it has never failed us.

It is used in a lot of ways and it's used every day. It's a critical component of our daily ops, and we are going to continue to expand and include other departments in IT, helping them manage some of their systems.

How are customer service and technical support?

SMA is great at replying to inquiries. Their support is great.

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

Before we got OpCon we did have another automated system, AutoMate. We switched due to OpCon's capabilities of communicating with the host system. And OpCon runs faster than the last one. There are some scenarios where it has been more capable and some where it has not been.

In terms of the time to implement OpCon versus our old solution, they're very different. The last system was geared closer to, and was more in tune with, developers than OpCon. It was very capable, as long as you had the skillset. Whereas OpCon is very simple and the GUI is very click-and-point. OpCon is faster at delivering some of the smaller things. But when it comes to more complex things, the last system was better because it was more prepared to handle those systems.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup wasn't difficult. It was pretty straightforward. The install wizard is easy to follow and there weren't a lot of hidden things to look for. We also had SMA staff on site, so they made it easier.

Our initial install was done in about an hour-and-a-half to two hours.

Because this is part of a conversion project, it's been managed by a PMO, and we follow a scrum-board, sprint-style implementation plan. That's pretty standard though.

Our first process was automated in about 10 minutes after install. The first one we did was one of the easiest things and it was done in a second. It was very fast.

What other advice do I have?

There's a lot to be said about using the embedded script systems and having good error handling. Hopefully, anybody who's doing development with scripts, writing code, is not a novice, because that part is really important.

The biggest thing I've learned using OpCon is convention. With the last solution, it wasn't such a big deal because the UI design was very simple. With OpCon, it handles schedules and jobs differently, so convention is very important with this: Learning to stick to a standard.

When it comes to end-users they are only using the Self Service option to click a button. Their roles vary within the different departments, but it's still the same thing. They log in and click a button. But when it comes to developers, there are only three of us, including me. For maintenance, there are three of us involved. Two of us are primarily developers and one is an operator who will monitor and report.

OpCon is a good eight out of 10. There is room for improvement with every system, of course. As I mentioned, the SQL database is the weakest link. There are some changes that have happened since our initial version that may not have been the best. Those types of things are really hard to improve because it just has to happen. That's an evolution.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: PeerSpot 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.
Core Application Programming Manager at a financial services firm with 201-500 employees
Real User
Replaced a mess of paper schedules and freed up employees to focus on the important aspects of their jobs
Pros and Cons
  • "It's very scalable. Right now we're barely scratching the surface of what it can do. I've looked at Symitar's instance of OpCon and they're running something like 13,000 jobs a day with all the clients that they have. So it can go from small use cases like ours to enterprise-level."
  • "It would be nice to go to a fully thin client."

What is our primary use case?

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

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

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

How has it helped my organization?

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

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

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

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

What is most valuable?

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

Those are the most valuable features for us.

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

What needs improvement?

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

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

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been using OpCon since 2009.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

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

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

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

How are customer service and technical support?

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

How was the initial setup?

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

The implementation took about a month.

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

What about the implementation team?

We consulted with OpCon's staff onsite. 

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

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

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

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

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

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

What other advice do I have?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Disclosure: PeerSpot 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.
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: PeerSpot 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.
Vice President of Information Technology at a financial services firm with 201-500 employees
Real User
Runs scripted tasks automatically, repeatedly, and accurately without intervention
Pros and Cons
  • "It can run scripted tasks automatically over and over without intervention. That is what it does and the part that I really like because repetitive tasks need to be done over and over, day after day, no matter what day of the week it is. It is difficult to have staff do these manually and consistently, especially over weekends or through the night. Instead, you can have OpCon do them."
  • "There is one feature that has been a difficult problem, and right now, OpCon can't do it. I'm not sure if it should be expected to, but we have tried to get it to where it could start a process on an external database."

What is our primary use case?

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

I am using a very recent version.

How has it helped my organization?

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

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

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

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

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

What is most valuable?

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

What needs improvement?

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

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

For how long have I used the solution?

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

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

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

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

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

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

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

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

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

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

How are customer service and technical support?

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

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

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

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

How was the initial setup?

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

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

What about the implementation team?

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

What was our ROI?

The solution has reduced data processing times in two ways:

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

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

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

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

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

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

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

What other advice do I have?

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

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

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

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: PeerSpot 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.
System Administrator at a financial services firm with 51-200 employees
Real User
Allows us to run everything through a central point, making troubleshooting much easier
Pros and Cons
  • "The automation of processes is the most valuable feature. One of the major hurdles for us over the last few years, before we found OpCon, was to make our nightly process happen automatically. Being a bank, we have nightly update processes that have to happen for posting transactions, for example, and it was a huge load off our department to have that automated."
  • "I think that they're working on this, but I wish that there was a more centralized area to be able to see what other people are doing... They have a community platform for OpCon users, but I want to see more of where somebody is doing this process in that way. They have a great community platform right now, but I feel that it could be developed."

What is our primary use case?

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

How has it helped my organization?

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

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

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

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

What is most valuable?

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

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

What needs improvement?

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

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been using OpCon for almost three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

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

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

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

How are customer service and technical support?

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

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

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

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

How was the initial setup?

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

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

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

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

What was our ROI?

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

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

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

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

What other advice do I have?

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

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

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

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

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: PeerSpot 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 - PeerSpot reviewer
IT Operations Systems Analyst Lead at Credit Human Federal Credit Union
Real User
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: PeerSpot 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.
Senior System Automation Analyst at a financial services firm with 501-1,000 employees
Real User
Automation eliminates operator error and gives us greater consistency
Pros and Cons
  • "The automation part of OpCon is the most valuable for us, with all the core processing. It's really mostly hands-off unless we have failures. In our old days, we'd spend a good part of the day doing processing via manual tasks. We don't have to do any of that any longer."
  • "I have noticed lately that [tech support's] first answers tend to be, "Let's upgrade it to the latest and greatest first," without looking into anything. The last couple of times I've logged a ticket that's been the response, which is a little frustrating. We're not big on just upgrading on a whim. We do full testing."

What is our primary use case?

We use it for pretty much everything. We purchased it when we converted to Symitar and that was the primary reason for using it. But we use it for all different vendors, downloading files, and running Oracle queries and VB scripts, etc.

How has it helped my organization?

When we converted to Symitar in 2013, by getting OpCon we eliminated two of our operator positions because we automated everything with it. We repurposed both positions and assigned them more meaningful tasks to do. 

We've automated several hundred processes and no longer have any manual processing. OpCon eliminates operator error by having it all automated. It gives us consistency.

What is most valuable?

The automation part of OpCon is the most valuable for us, with all the core processing. It's really mostly hands-off unless we have failures. In our old days, we'd spend a good part of the day doing processing via manual tasks. We don't have to do any of that any longer.

What needs improvement?



For how long have I used the solution?

We've been using OpCon for about six-and-a-half years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's definitely been pretty stable for us. We run things 24 hours a day, so sometimes we run into issues related to putting server patches on it. We have to find a time to stop everything to load Windows patches and the like.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability seems fine.

We always increase usage. We're always having new processes and adding new servers for different things. We definitely have plans for increasing usage, almost daily.

How are customer service and technical support?

We don't need to use technical support very often, but to begin with, it was really good.

I have noticed lately that their first answers tend to be, "Let's upgrade it to the latest and greatest first," without looking into anything. The last couple of times I've logged a ticket that's been the response, which is a little frustrating. We're not big on just upgrading on a whim. We do full testing.

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

We had a tool before OpCon, but it's been so many years that I can't remember the name of it. It was not nearly as robust as OpCon is. Implementing things is a lot easier with OpCon. Most things don't generally take that long to implement. The way you can calculate different dates, and all the different types of contingencies make OpCon a lot more flexible.

Also, OpCon was the preferred partner of Jack Henry, which we were converting to. That was our primary reason.

Another reason was that OpCon enables us to do all these other external processes, outside of the core, with other vendors, like downloading bond files. We did not have any of that before.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup seemed fairly straightforward to begin with, but we didn't get into a lot of the more complicated features. We've grown into those features over the years. It was just set up to do the basic processing in the beginning.

Jack Henry, the vendor of Symitar, came onsite when we converted and they were here for a week. At that point we had all of our main, "good night" tasks and the like in OpCon. Gradually, over time, we've added everything else, such as our mortgage processing, which is outside of Jack Henry software. We purchased an API and we were able to automate all of that processing with OpCon also.

The SMA techs were really good to work with. They're very responsive. We didn't have any complaints about them.

After OpCon was deployed we automated our first processes right away.

Our strategy was to make sure we had no manual processes by the end. And going forward, we wouldn't take on processes unless we were able to automate them with OpCon.

What was our ROI?

We have definitely seen a return on our investment by going with OpCon. With all of the automated processes, we eliminated two positions. We also have an initiative where we're going into other departments in the credit union and finding processes that they're doing manually which we're able to automate. Using OpCon helps reduce the time our staff works on manual processes and, instead, they can spend time working on things that directly affect our members.

What other advice do I have?

It's kind of hard, in the beginning, to picture it all until you start using it.

We don't roll it out to the whole company. It's centralized just within our IT department. We have three users who actually use it and manage the processes. Two of them are more primary, me and one other person, and the third person is a backup. We also have the ability to put an icon on a person's desktop and let them click the icon, and that will actually run a process in OpCon behind the scenes for them. We have about 10 of those.

I would rate it a nine out of 10. It's not a 10 because of some of the support responses recently.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: PeerSpot 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 - PeerSpot reviewer
Manager of Remote Services at Dow Chemical Employees Credit Union
Real User
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: PeerSpot 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.
VP IT at a financial services firm with 11-50 employees
Real User
Automation reduces our FTE requirements and enables us to work on more interesting tasks
Pros and Cons
  • "The most valuable feature is being able to schedule tasks so that they reliably occur each day, each week, each month, or sometimes several times a day... The scheduler works as it should."
  • "It is a complex product to use. Programming the schedules is complex. It does require training from OpCon... I would like to see some online training, some videos. When I bring in a new employee... 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."

What is our primary use case?

We use it as an automation tool to send and receive files and process batch jobs on our core banking system. It can also archive files for us. We use OpCon to automate anything that we can automate.

How has it helped my organization?

If I did not have OpCon, I would have to hire full-time employee to do all of the work that OpCon does. We probably save about $40,000 to $50,000 a year by being able to schedule everything. Plus it's reliable. If an employee doesn't show up for work, someone else has to fill in, and things might be late. OpCon works. I wake up in the morning and the first thing I check is my text messages. I see a text message from OpCon that End-of-Day was successful the previous evening. That way I know people can come to work and everything is on schedule.

Another benefit is that, in the past, employees would have to call the IT department to run certain batch jobs in our core banking system. We don't want to give the privilege of running a batch job to an accounting clerk because they could accidentally run a batch job that they shouldn't and cause serious problems. We were able, with an additional piece that we purchased from OpCon called Self Service — a web-based platform — to create a button for the accounting department to click. 

As an example, we have to process ACH and when an ACH file comes in, the accounting department needs to look at it for certain exceptions. And then our support services department needs to look at it for certain exceptions. When each person is done with their job, they go to their Self Service page and push a button. When OpCon sees that two buttons have been pushed, it knows it can continue with the job. So the employees don't need to call IT. We've programmed OpCon to take over the job when it knows the employees have done their jobs.

We have about 40 schedules on an average day and, within some of those schedules, multiple jobs are done. When we moved to our new core banking system, we had to do everything manually. Once we put OpCon in place, it took over doing close to all of that; about 99 percent.

We continue to look for things that OpCon can do. There might be a scenario where an accounting clerk has to download a file and open it up and put files in certain places. When we find something like that, we see if we can work through the process and let OpCon do it for them, or do part of the job for them. I know there are still things out there that can be automated.

OpCon has definitely freed up some employees to do more meaningful work as a result of automation. During our first month on our core banking system, because I was responsible for that system, I or my systems administrator pretty much spent all day manually downloading files, running batch jobs, uploading files, processing things, and moving them to archives. That was good because it was a new system. Neither of us had done those kinds of tasks. So we now understand what's involved. When it came time to program OpCon, we knew exactly what we wanted done. It was very nice to move those jobs to OpCon, one-by-one, and free up our time to go back to our regular work.

We're a small organization, there are only 35 of us. OpCon freed up three people in IT and probably the equivalent of another FTE. Someone else had to deal with getting files from the Federal Reserve and sending files and they don't have to do that anymore. OpCon does it. We're now free to work on other projects or other problems. The things that OpCon does, they're routine; it's the same thing day in and out. Go to this credit card processor and get a file, bring it over here, upload it here, run a batch job, and send out an email. It gets very boring doing that every day. There's more interesting work we can do.

We also have some jobs that take a lot of network bandwidth and we use OpCon to schedule them to run at two in the morning and they're done by four. That way, people aren't affected during the day, so we've made better use of our bandwidth.

Finally, we're in Oregon, so about once a year we might have snow to the point that they shut the city down. My SA or I can remote into the credit union and check on OpCon and make sure that all the jobs are running. We have a couple of managers who can remote in and do their pieces and push the OpCon buttons to tell OpCon to finish up the job. In the past, we had to have at least two people come into the organization to process ACH or payrolls, etc. Now, we have the ability to work remotely if necessary.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is being able to schedule tasks so that they reliably occur each day, each week, each month, or sometimes several times a day. We are a financial institution so we need to have our core banking system up to date. We also want to make sure that the work gets done. For example, we use it for ACH deposits and payments. So if you are depending on your paycheck to be there on a certain day of the month, OpCon makes sure it's done. The scheduler works as it should.

What needs improvement?

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.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using OpCon for a little over three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's a very stable product.

The only time we have to be careful of is if we have an extended power outage. We've learned that we have to bring our SQL database server up before we bring OpCon online. That's true for several other systems that we run. But otherwise, OpCon tends to work as expected.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I'm sure there's a lot of scalability, but as a small organization, we're using it as much as we can. We've not experienced any problems. 

Our company has about $130 million in assets. I know credit unions that are billion-dollar companies and they use OpCon. So I have no concerns, as we grow, that it will continue to meet our needs.

How are customer service and technical support?

The support is good. When we run into issues, we can rely on SMA to walk us through how to correct any problems or do something in a more efficient way.

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

We did not have a previous solution. One of my requirements, when we decided to go with our new core banking system, was that I did not want to spend my time doing these routine jobs and tasks every day. So I went out to my colleagues at other credit unions and asked them how they were managing these things. Everyone said, "You must have OpCon." I researched a little on OpCon. Our core banking platform, Corelation Keystone, put me in touch with the OpCon salesperson. They did a demo for me and I was immediately sold.

How was the initial setup?

Because we had an expert here from SMA, it was somewhat straightforward. He knew what he was doing and we had confidence in him. We didn't have any problems that I recall.

We started automating our first process on the second day of the deployment. We created some schedules and jobs that ran so that we could make sure that they worked.

An example is End-of-Day. That is a program that's done on the core banking system at the end of the day and it closes out a lot of information for accounting purposes and so forth, and then sets the date to the next day. For example, certain accounts might need dividends applied to them or loan interest charged on loans. Late notices and certificate notices need to be prepared. If it's the end of the month, there may be a statement file that goes to another vendor. We need to make sure that End-of-Day is successful. We could see the next day that yes, it was. We immediately kicked in and started getting things done.

After the OpCon person left, my systems administrator started to create new job schedules for some of the other processes that we did. One-by-one, we started moving our manual processes over to Keystone until they were all done.

What about the implementation team?

OpCon assisted us in our initial setup. They were here for three for four days. That's how long it took us to deploy the solution.

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

OpCon is expensive for us as a small organization, but on the other hand, it's a lot less expensive than hiring another full-time employee.

We pay for licensing annually, including the Self Service module, a connector license to our Corelation Keystone banking platform, and for a license for each server that it's on. A lot of these are rolled up into one, but the initial implementation was a chunk of money. Now, we just pay annual maintenance.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I did not look into other products. The recommendation for OpCon came from most of my colleagues in my industry working at other credit unions. I did not find another solution. Everyone used OpCon, and everyone really liked it and highly recommended it. So it was an easy decision. 

And SMA has a good working relationship with Corelation. They worked with Corelation to write unique jobs that run in OpCon for credit unions. That was also a very good selling point.

What other advice do I have?

The biggest lesson I have learned from using OpCon is that you really need an individual like my systems administrator who understands how a program like this works. Creating these schedules and working with the language that's required to get things done is very specialized. You have to have someone like that. Could I do it? I could, but it would take me 10 times the amount of time that it takes Sean. You do need someone on staff who understands systems, system deployment, systems operations. That's how you're able to make the most of it. The programming side of it is very basic. It's not that complex. But you have to understand how to tell it what you want to do.

Our primary user is our systems administrator; he programs everything in OpCon. I can access it when he goes on vacation and make sure that all of the jobs are working fine. At times there might be a job that failed. For example, a person is supposed to prepare a file from a third-party vendor but if they don't rename it appropriately, OpCon doesn't know what to do with it. Another example is that one of our third-party vendors will send us a file that is incorrectly prepared. OpCon won't process it. It will catch the problem and then we have to reach out to the vendor and ask for a new file. OpCon allows me to catch any mistakes that a human being makes.

We have two people using OpCon. Sean programs it and has overall responsibility for it, including deployment and maintenance. I fill in when he's not here. Luckily there aren't too many issues. I'm going to get my third IT employee involved with it more next year, to do what I do. And 10 or 12 other employees each have access to their department's site in the Self Service program. So if they're responsible for looking at the bounced-check file or ACH exceptions or paper payroll that we receive from small companies, they can do their work and push their button and that allows OpCon to finish the job.

We've been very happy with it. We're always looking for ways to use it more. We ask, "Could OpCon do that?"

I am always careful about giving someone a 10, because there's always room for improvement. But I hate to give OpCon a nine. I give them a 10.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: PeerSpot 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.
Manager at a financial services firm with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Enabled us to significantly reduce manual touches in our system, but testing automations is difficult
Pros and Cons
  • "The core system is the most valuable part: being able to view the processes that we've never really been able to view as a whole before. That is super-helpful, as is being alerted when issues arise."
  • "The process of getting automations done and the process of testing them is a little complicated."

What is our primary use case?

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

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

How has it helped my organization?

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

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

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

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

What is most valuable?

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

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

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

What needs improvement?

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

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

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

For how long have I used the solution?

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

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

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

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

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

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

How are customer service and technical support?

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

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

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

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

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

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

How was the initial setup?

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

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

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

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

What was our ROI?

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

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

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

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

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

What other advice do I have?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: PeerSpot 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.
Unisys Infrastructure Support Specialist at a financial services firm with 10,001+ employees
Real User
The product is always available and easy to use
Pros and Cons
  • "It allows batch work to run as smoothly and efficiently as possible."
  • "The way to view a schedule is called perch view, and that's not always the greatest. It can be quite slow."

What is our primary use case?

We use OpCon for scheduling batch jobs on the Unisys mainframe. It controls all of the batch work. Therefore, if we want to rerun a job or add a new job in, It is used for controlling this Unisys batch work.

How has it helped my organization?

It allows batch work to run as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

If we are talking about a one-off job, it takes roughly five minutes to set that up, which is very quick.

Results are pretty much instantaneous. It depends what frequency you put on the job. It could be a job that will not run for another couple of hours. But, if you set up a job and want it to run straightaway, it will do it straightaway.

OpCon has streamlined operations. 

Going back 20 odd years ago, everything used to be controlled manually before. Now, it's just a flow of jobs. You kick one off, then there are just dependencies, one after the other. These jobs just follow those dependencies and do it all automatically, instead of somebody having to sit there and do it manually.

From when it was first deployed, the solution freed up around 100 or so employees to do more meaningful work as a result of the automation.

It reduced data processing times when it was first deployed. Back then, it probably saved a good six or seven hours on a daily basis. The amount time has shrunk since then, but that is not due to OpCon. It is more due to reduced processing times on the Unisys mainframe.

What is most valuable?

It is very simple and easy to use, but that might be because I've been using it for a long time.

The things that we use most often are:

  • NIST view
  • Job Master
  • The quick search option.

What needs improvement?

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.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using it for 12 to 13 years.

The company has probably had it for about 20 years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability is very good. We don't ever seem to have any issues or major problems with OpCon. It's always been quite good.

We have currently been looking to upgrade to version 19. So, we are testing that.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is quite good. The amount that we have on it doesn't ever cause any issues. I am not too sure how much more it could cope with, but I imagine it's a lot more.

We have approximately 50 scheduled jobs running various different processes. It varies between 20 and 100. Because it's a big organization, these automated process are not a massive part of the organization: Approximately 15 to 20 percent. I don't see this figure going up since a lot of stuff tends to be moving into cloud-based stuff.

Our use of OpCon needs improvement because I don't think we use it to its full capabilities.

There is a team of us who do the maintenance. There are mainly three people on the team with another hundred other people using it for view only purposes, such as viewing data results and what times certain jobs finish. They don't have access to make any amendments.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support is very good. I think we have a designated person who we contact if we ever have any sort of issues, etc. Their response time is fairly quick (within 24 hours).

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is pretty straightforward. They give you some good user guides and information on how to do it.

If we are upgrading, it probably takes about two to three hours. We start the automation process within this two to three hour time slot. It is pretty quick.

When deploying a new version, we have to do a lot of testing. We have DR boxes which we do our testing on first. That's what we're currently doing it at the moment. Then, we have to run it through our change management to make sure all of the various other areas in the department are happy.

What about the implementation team?

SMA is pretty helpful, if we do ever have any questions. They are pretty quick to respond.

For upgrades, three or four are required. There are three of us on our side involved in upgrading it. Then, there is one person from SMA to help, if need be.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Compared to other solutions that we have in the organization, OpCon is a lot quicker to deploy. For example, Control-M takes almost double the time to deploy.

We use OpCon for Unisys and Control M for more server-based jobs.

What other advice do I have?

it's definitely an application worth considering and looking into. It is a pretty good tool. I don't really have too many issues with it.

My biggest lesson since using it has been to learn how to upgrade it. This is part of the process, as I've gone from the scheduling side of it, where no one else scheduled jobs to the next step of learning how to upgrade it.

I would rate it an eight (out of 10). The product is always available and easy to use. I like the overall general feel and view of it.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: PeerSpot 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.
Engineer at CONSEIL DÃPARTEMENTAL 83
Real User
It has improved our scripts by making them more reliable and precise
Pros and Cons
  • "I have been pleased with the support that we can get from the European partners. I think they are very good. All the time, when we have a question, they have an answer. It is very reassuring to have that support every day. Then, you can concentrate on your job and OpCon is just there to work. For us, it's perfect."
  • "It was hard to automate in the beginning because there were a lot of concepts. I had to learn a lot of things, as I never used such a software before. I learned a lot of the concepts and ideas behind it in the beginning."

What is our primary use case?

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

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

How has it helped my organization?

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

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

What is most valuable?

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

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

What needs improvement?

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

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

For how long have I used the solution?

We started using it five years ago.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

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

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

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

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

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

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

How are customer service and technical support?

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

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

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

How was the initial setup?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What about the implementation team?

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

What was our ROI?

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

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

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

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

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

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

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

What other advice do I have?

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

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

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

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: PeerSpot 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.
PhilippeLLORET - PeerSpot reviewer
Manager Applications Operation Group at Groupama Supports et Services
Real User
Scheduling functionality enables us to optimize jobs and reduce the number of jobs
Pros and Cons
  • "One of the advantages of OpCon is the ability to use the API and web services. We couldn't do that with our previous solution. We have been able to change our procedure for ticketing. When a job is down, we can immediately create a ticket from OpCon in our ticketing solution, which is ServiceNow, using the web services."
  • "I would like to see them improve the Solution Manager for the web application. It's the future for us. Our customers need a lot of functionality, but there isn't that functionality within Solution Manager. So they have to develop and improve it."

What is our primary use case?

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

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

How has it helped my organization?

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

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

What is most valuable?

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

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

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

What needs improvement?

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

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

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been using it for two years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

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

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

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

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

How are customer service and technical support?

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

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

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

We used Dollar Universe.

How was the initial setup?

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

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

What about the implementation team?

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

What was our ROI?

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

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

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

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

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

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

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

What other advice do I have?

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

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

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: PeerSpot 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.
System Analyst at a financial services firm with 51-200 employees
Real User
Improved our consistency on how batch jobs are run and their schedule
Pros and Cons
  • "Manual processing has been automated 99 percent by OpCon. With new processes, we give it at least two weeks manual so we can write down the details of how to do the steps, then we automate it. Within a month, it has been automated, then it's no longer a manual process."
  • "There is some difficulty with the ease of use when I don't have some of the templates that were already created. More templates would be great. Non-core featured templates are my biggest struggle."

What is our primary use case?

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

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

How has it helped my organization?

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is most valuable?

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

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

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

What needs improvement?

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

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

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using it since 2013.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's a stable solution.

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

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

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

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

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

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

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

How are customer service and technical support?

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

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

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

How was the initial setup?

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

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

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

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

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

What about the implementation team?

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

What was our ROI?

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

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

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

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

Our licensing is on a yearly basis.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We did not evaluate other vendors. 

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

What other advice do I have?

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

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

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

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

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: PeerSpot 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.
ArturoRivera - PeerSpot reviewer
IT Manager Business Solutions Delivery at CBC Federal Credit Union
Real User
We automated our first processes within a week of deployment
Pros and Cons
  • "It has also helped to streamline our operations. We contract out our collection department so they are no longer housed on our system. They're housed on another platform. OpCon is able to not only pull in our data, but it also, on a daily basis, updates that third-party."
  • "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... As far as complexity goes, it's right up there."

What is our primary use case?

We use it to automate multiple platforms: our mortgage platform, our core platform, and other instances where we're working with third parties to whom we have to move data. It does about 90 percent of our automation. Very rarely do we do anything that's not automated. For example, we do not manually upload anything. It's all done through OpCon.

How has it helped my organization?

The biggest improvement is the batch automation. We don't do anything manually anymore; everything is automated. We did have a very highly skilled employee and the job he left for was a job with a bigger credit union to run their OpCon shop. That's how good he became at it. His skill set was at a very high level, where he automated up to 90 percent of what we do. We very rarely have to manually upload.

We've automated about 50 to 60 processes, and that number is growing. We are adding on our mortgage platform to automate that. And that number does not include the OpCon buttons they also use for on-demand stuff.

It has also helped to streamline our operations. We contract out our collection department so they are no longer housed on our system. They're housed on another platform. OpCon is able to not only pull in our data, but it also, on a daily basis, updates that third-party. In addition, if there are any updates coming back, OpCon will check on a daily basis and send it back. That's just a sample of how it automates. 

Another example is how we automate our daily FedLine. The most important job files that we run are our ACH, our Federal postings for credits and debits. We totally automated that where there is no longer any manual intervention. We upload the Fed file; it comes in and OpCon is smart enough to know where to place it and how to run the edits. It's also smart enough to know that there are delay times. Before OpCon, we were posting them the next day, manually, one after the other, because there are four to five that come in and out throughout the day. Because we were able to automate it through OpCon, we can now post them when they actually come in. They are posting throughout the day now. For example, at 12 in the morning there is our major posting, and it's posted right when it should be. Members are actually getting their paychecks or debits and credits right when they should happen. That was a big one which was very member-impactful.

OpCon has also freed up employees to do more meaningful work as a result of automation. They're not having to go into Symitar and run a job. Instead, they can simply run something. They've also found innovative ways to use it as well: "Hey, I have this thing that produces an Excel file. Can OpCon just grab it and send it out to this other vendor for me?" And the answer is, "Sure, that's not a problem." Our employees are thinking outside the box, as far as utilizing it goes. Even though they don't generally know OpCon, they know what it's capable of. In some cases, they're building their own little building blocks of automation themselves.

The main employees who have been freed up are in our accounting, item-processing, and lending departments. In those three departments there are about 15 employees. All depend on OpCon to do something for them. We're not that big of a shop. We have about 100 employees in total.

Our employees expect automation now. Prior to that, it was nice to be able to run something and for them to get their data. It was awesome. Now, as they know that it's a standard process, they're not as excited. They just expect it now. If you would tell them: "Oh, no, you have to manually move this from here to there," they would probably come back and say "Wait a minute, my other thing is automated. Why can't this be?"

If we're counting all the manual intervention, as a percentage, I would say that OpCon has reduced data processing by 90 percent, through automation, the efficiency, and the eliminating of manual errors.

What is most valuable?

There are a lot of areas that are valuable. Perhaps the most valuable would be the OpCon button that users can select so that instead of having users going into Symitar, they can now just run an OpCon button that works on-demand. That's probably the one that has made the biggest impact. We no longer have users running job processes in Symitar. Everything that they need, we simply have them run on-demand, so there's no access into Symitar. That is one of the most valuable tools we have. Obviously, the batch-automation is a big one, but that button functionality would be the biggest feature.

What needs improvement?

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.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been using OpCon for the last five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability, on a scale of one to 10, is about a seven. We are having some issues with logs. We did reach out to OpCon, but they didn't have a solution for that, so we're having to manually handle that on a daily basis. That was a little disappointing. I'm hoping that one day they will have a list-serve where we can reach out to other OpCon shops. That way, we can reach out to other OpCon users who have a high level of OpCon skills and say, "Hey, we ran into this problem. How did you guys figure your way out of it?"

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It's pretty scalable. It can go virtual. They have a lot of options. Right now we are on-prem, but we would definitely look at going off-prem and having it hosted in the future. That's what we'd like, and they do offer that capability. They also offer managed services, which is something we're going to target in the near future, simply because we're a small shop. so they do offer a variety of things that we could definitely take advantage of.

We only have one user using OpCon because the main one left. She is training our other two who are brand-new; they are literally brand-new, even to IT. We are very shorthanded right now. That is why we bought the consulting hours, so that we could get these other two up to speed.

Similarly, only one person is doing maintenance of the solution, which is why we're going to contemplate shifting over to OpCon's managed services. That kind of solution is probably a perfect remedy for a shop like ours. I wouldn't be surprised if, this time next year, we're not even managing it and that they are.

How are customer service and technical support?

When we had the log problems they weren't very helpful on that. It felt that it wasn't a very helpful solution. From eight to five, they will help. They have some really good people. But if there are really complex problems like the logs, it feels like the front-line support doesn't know, or at least didn't on that one occasion. Thankfully, our network guys figured out the problem. Otherwise, we would have been out of luck. I'd rate technical support at six out of 10.

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

We didn't have a previous solution. We were doing things manually.

How was the initial setup?

I didn't participate in the setup, but I believe that it was straightforward. OpCon came onsite for training and it seems that soon after my staff got the training they took the ball and ran with it. They got the building blocks in the training and, after that, they caught on fairly well and were able to start automating a lot of the manual processes, one by one.

For the implementation, we had to load the server and we had to have a backup for that OpCon server, which goes out to our Branson site. Any changes to OpCon get passed on. But when OpCon come onsite, they pretty much got everything loaded for us. We were paying them to do that, which is what I would recommend to anybody. It helped us, a company that was brand-new to it, to bring us into it. When they were onsite they handled 90 percent of it.

It wasn't long after the deployment that we automated the first process. Within a week we were already automating some things that we had been manually moving over. And then we road-mapped big ones like the ACH stuff that I mentioned elsewhere. One of our first projects was automating our ACH to the Feds. We had an idea of what we wanted to do once it was implemented.

What was our ROI?

We have definitely seen a return on investment. The big return on investment was the fact that we lost three OpCon people from our staff and nobody even knew that we had. We went on without skipping a beat. We literally had the worst-case scenario that can happen to an IT staff and we came out smelling like a rose. Everything ran and we were able to continue with a small staff and we did not have to worry about our batch automation.

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

Yearly, it's around $30,000.

We bought consulting hours for a year at an additional cost. We're getting 85 hours a year for consulting to help us through, for example, with a complex process that we want to get done. Some of those hours might be spent for them to actually come onsite and give one-on-one training to some new people being introduced to OpCon.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked at two other vendors. It's been a long time so I don't remember their names. They were enticing because they were definitely a lot lower in cost, but ultimately OpCon had more of a service to provide. OpCon offered more services and more automation. It was a no-brainer after we learned that.

What other advice do I have?

Do your homework. Definitely look at other vendors and consider your staff size. In our case, because we have a small staff, we don't have a lot of programmers. We don't have the luxury of having 10 programmers who can write their own batch scripts. If you're a small shop like us, really do your homework on it because, in the end, if you rely on somebody writing batch scripts to do things and they ultimately leave, you own that. You really need to make sure about your road-mapping. Are your employees going to stay at the credit union? If they are, that that makes a big difference. 

What happened to us was that we lost two valuable OpCon employees within a span of two months who knew how to solve OpCon problems. The third person, who was average but knew it, went down with an ankle injury for a month-and-a-half. We had nobody who knew OpCon for almost two months. The only thing that saved us was that the process was so automated that we didn't have a problem, thank goodness. Everything just ran and we never had an issue.

You have to know your staff; you have to know whether they're content. Are they going to be staying? If you know they're going to leave, you better plan ahead. You don't want to get caught like we did.

But our situation tells you how well OpCon is programmed.

The biggest lesson I have learned from using OpCon is that we have to stay on top of the releases. Every year there are software releases that you have to get done. They are key. But there are also updates, SLAs that come out. We definitely try to keep on top of that because our batch automation is a critical platform. So it's critical that we make sure that everything is up to date. The SQL portion of that is also important. We also use third-party FTP software and that is another thing that we've got to make sure is up to date. It's a definitely a solution with moving parts.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: PeerSpot 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.
Systems Developer at a financial services firm with 51-200 employees
Real User
Frees up our employees to do more meaningful work
Pros and Cons
  • "Previously, we would receive a file from a vendor, then we would have to go through and make changes to individual accounts in our core system. There are probably between 10 to 20 accounts any given week. It probably took around five minutes for it to run through the report and make all the changes, and that was if there was nothing complicated with all very straightforward changes. Now, that is done in 30 seconds."
  • "What can get complicated is if you're doing anything more than just the built-in jobs. If you're using the more advanced features, troubleshooting becomes extremely complicated."

What is our primary use case?

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

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

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

How has it helped my organization?

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

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

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

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

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

What is most valuable?

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

What needs improvement?

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

For how long have I used the solution?

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

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

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

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

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

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

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

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

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

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

How are customer service and technical support?

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

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

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

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

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

How was the initial setup?

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

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

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

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

What about the implementation team?

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

Our experience with the SMA team was excellent.

What was our ROI?

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

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

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

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

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

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

What other advice do I have?

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

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

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: PeerSpot 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.
Consultant and Contractor at NYSDOT
Real User
Gives us the ability to schedule dependent jobs across different mainframes
Pros and Cons
  • "There are three features which are valuable: the automated calendar functions; the notification process for failed jobs or unscheduled events occurring, via email and text messaging; and the ability for the scheduling package to communicate across multiple platforms."
  • "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."

What is our primary use case?

We chose OpCon to replace a scheduling package that was controlling approximately 10,000 batch jobs every day. So the main purpose of OpCon, for us, is to replace an aging homegrown solution with a more advanced scheduling product that has more bells and whistles. We use it for job control. We have Enterprise Manager on desktops communicating to agents that are on our mainframe computer.

We haven't yet completed the conversion. We are about 30 percent converted right now. We still running 70 percent of the work through our old scheduling package. We have two main shops. One of them is an upstate shop and one is a downstate shop. I run the downstate shop. We have about 10,000 jobs, of which 5,000 to 6,000 are in that downstate system. We have deployed about 2,000 jobs out of a total of 6,000 jobs, downstate.

How has it helped my organization?

The part that jumps out is the notification process. The agent can now notify us, by email or text messages, when any jobs have failed or when any groups of jobs have finished successfully. Previously, it was a manual process where somebody would say, "We finished the work now," or, "A job has failed," and then they would have to start sending out emails or calling people to notify them when we received certain errors or reached certain stages in the work. That part has been automated.

We anticipate, in the future, that it will save us time mainly because, with the old scheduling package, we would have to manually identify and calculate dates for the next 12-month period. We would have to do that every single year. That's a very lengthy and accident-prone area and, by automating, we expect to see a reduction in effort from the staff.

What is most valuable?

There are three features which are valuable: 

  • automated calendar functions
  • the notification process for failed jobs or unscheduled events occurring, via email and text messaging
  • the ability for the scheduling package to communicate across multiple platforms. 

We have three mainframe computers and our previous scheduling package wouldn't communicate across the mainframes. OpCon gives us that ability to schedule jobs on mainframe A and a job on mainframe B and the latter can be dependent upon a job on A. 

Those are the key components that we've found to be beneficial.

What needs improvement?

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.

For how long have I used the solution?

It was first installed in 2018 and we started using it for production work at the beginning of 2019, so we've been going for 10 or 11 months.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability has been very good.

The downside is that when something does go wrong, most times it's a networking issue, which tends to get lost in the mix. OpCon will say, "Unable to communicate," and now we have to try and track which part of it has failed. Is it the agent that has failed? Is it the Enterprise Manager that has failed? Is it the network backbone that has failed? Or is it the SQL Server that has failed? A way in which OpCon could be improved is to better analyze things when a failure is occurring to point us in a better direction without our having to check all the different paths.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I love the idea that we can scale it, but what I don't like is that every time I consider wanting to scale it to something else, it costs a lot of money and then I have to jump through hoops with all of my hierarchy in order to get it. So it's good and it's bad. I actually haven't seen any scalability yet because nobody has approved the enormous amounts of money that are needed to put another agent in another area.

We have about 24 active users and their main function with OpCon is purely to monitor and schedule the work on the different platforms. What I would like to see happen in the future, and I know this does exist, is to expand the user group to the client base or to the development group so that they can then see the results of their work in a read-only manner. Because we're concentrating our efforts on deployment, I haven't yet gotten around to getting that part implemented.

Ideally, I'd like to see three people on it on every shift to monitor this amount of work. Their role would be to monitor the workflow, to implement new applications into OpCon, and to ensure the frequencies and calendars are working as expected. As good as OpCon is, we still need to verify that it's interpretation of when we've told it to run the jobs actually matches up with what we really expect it to do. We just don't trust it completely yet.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support has been excellent. We had two people from SMA who were part of the project to do the conversion. Now that they're no longer available to us we miss them tremendously. But we also understand that they had to move on to other projects.

What has been beneficial, and I have no complaints about, is that every time we do encounter a hurdle of any kind, when we call the 800 number, whatever technician we speak to at the other end is extremely knowledgeable and walks us through it. But the hard part many times is that they don't necessarily know how we are set up so there's always that 10 or 15 minutes as we explain, in our terms, how we're doing business so that they can understand what it is that we could have done better or what we're doing wrong. Having an in-house expert would be extremely beneficial but that's too costly.

Having a dedicated tech from OpCon, about three months ago, would have been extremely beneficial. We used up an awful lot of the time and resources of the dedicated people who were assigned to this project when we weren't even fully aware of the questions that we were going to ask because we hadn't implemented anything yet. We had them available to us during a stage when we were still putting all of the jobs into the test system and not into the live system. That's just the way it worked out. And again, when you're trying to convert so many jobs that are mission-critical, it's very difficult to take the risk of it not working correctly, so we're being very cautious about how we implement all of our work.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was complex. We had a training course that was given to us back in August but almost everybody who attended the course didn't actually get to use the product, hands-on, for about six months after the course. Nobody could really fully comprehend OpCon when we were first given the course. It was a very different product to what we were used to using. As a consequence, it was like a brand-new language and many of our staff couldn't wrap their heads around. It's not until you actually use it that you start to understand how this thing works.

Our deployment is still going on. I would say it's been a 12-month deployment with about another three months to go before we complete it. We're anticipating having it fully deployed by February of 2020.

The first part of the implementation was that we took a flatfile database dump of our current scheduling product and that was provided to SMA support, to Kevin Adams and Ben Adams. They loaded that into the OpCon database. Then we would project future schedules within OpCon and compare them to future schedules in our in-house scheduling package to see if the conversion had gone as expected. Once we found all of the different nuances, the different parts that had been interpreted incorrectly — meaning either their schedule dependencies or frequencies, probably because we exposed to them wrong — the next phase was to do parallel running.

We continued to run all of our work in our existing scheduling package and each day we would run the same schedules in OpCon but convert all of the jobs in OpCon to null jobs so that they performed no functions. They wouldn't start anything. They would just run and hopefully run in the same sequence as our live system.

The third phase was to actually start the conversion. We identified the least mission-critical jobs, the low-hanging fruit which were the least damaging jobs, and converted those. We turned them off in our in-house scheduling package and turned them on within OpCon. Once that proved to be successful, we then broke down jobs into groups to be converted, initially starting out with groups of about 100 to 200 at a time.

We've now reached the final phase, which is the remaining 3,000 or so jobs. It's a very complex schedule. We were going to implement it in stages and we're finding that it's very difficult to implement jobs that are running it OpCon while still running our old scheduling package when we have dependencies between them. So the final phase is proving to be a little bit more daunting but we're getting there.

After deployment of OpCon, it took about two-and-a-half to three months to automate our first process, between when it was communicating with the agents on the mainframe and when we actually started to run jobs.

What was our ROI?

It's too early to tell about ROI.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated Control-M from BMC. Both OpCon and Control-M were going to provide us with the solution that we were looking for. The decisions were then out of my hands because it was then left up to the money people. The final selling point was that there was another state organization that was already using SMA. I believe the Civil Service Department is using SMA. That was the final factor: If we were going to purchase something, let's try and keep them looking the same.

What other advice do I have?

I would highly recommend an onsite evaluation of OpCon that has already been deployed and seeing it fully in action, so that you could be better prepared to ask the right questions prior to getting it. All we saw was a remote demo and that, to me, was a big mistake on my people's part and probably SMA's part. We never got to see it in action so we didn't know all the right questions to ask.

My biggest lesson in using OpCon is that I wish I'd been more involved at the beginning of the project, when they were estimating the need for support. We should have budgeted for a different type of support during the early days.

The second big mistake was that there is a latest and greatest version of OpCon, which I believe is called OpCon Deploy, and we didn't budget for it or know of its existence until after we were doing our deployment. That would have made such a huge difference, because everything that we were doing in our deployment was manual: We had to extract the information from our scheduling package provide it to SMA support. They would manipulate the data, put it into our test system, and then, to roll it across from our test system to our live system, they would have to export the database or export the schedules and import them into production OpCon. Whereas Deploy is fully automated. That would have made a huge difference. We didn't pay for it because we weren't told about it and as a consequence, this is what we got. 

We still wish we could get it but now we can't get it because we have to wait for the budget people to approve it. And to get the budget people to approve it, we have to give them the same explanations as when we were going from our old scheduling package to the new scheduling package and they're not buying it. They're saying, "No, no, you already used that as a reason for us spending a half a million dollars. You can't use it again."

Right now, I'm going to rate it as an eight out of 10, but I believe it's going to be a 10 for us.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: PeerSpot 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.
reviewer1242072 - PeerSpot reviewer
User at a government with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Self-service helps provide for the quick and simple handling of tasks
Pros and Cons
  • "The most valuable feature is the self-service because it has made it possible to provide simple and quick solutions in the handling of certain tasks."
  • "The ability to retrieve information from logs in variables to display relevant information would be helpful."

What is our primary use case?

We use OpCon to schedule three jobs, repeated ten times a day and five days a week.

This solution gives us the ability to look at each job's output online and determine whether it is ok or not. It can restart failed jobs when they are fixed, and it maintains a log history for statistics.

How has it helped my organization?

It was the right solution to industrialize public data processing that was still manual. Time savings were crucial in this choice and automation. This also contributed to the optimization of the work of several people, who were able to devote themselves to other more interesting tasks.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the self-service because it has made it possible to provide simple and quick solutions in the handling of certain tasks. Self-service is easy to use for people who are not in the IT department and who must act at any time for and with the customers.

What needs improvement?

I would like to see improvements with the graphical display during the execution of jobs with complex sequences, step-by-step, in self-service.

A much finer level of authorization for users, with a more direct job return, would be an improvement.

The ability to retrieve information from logs in variables to display relevant information would be helpful.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for eleven years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

This solution is very stable and you can trust the software.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It responds very well to an increase in jobs and has no real limit.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is excellent. We felt that we were treated like family, not a number. They are very competent.

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

We did use another solution prior to this one, but we switched to OpCon because it's more user-friendly.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is very simple. When we decided to install OpCon, this was done in two hours and two jobs could be executed directly afterward. For the other two solutions that we tried it was much more difficult, quite incomprehensible, and nothing worked as a result.

What about the implementation team?

We implemented through a vendor team that I score ten out of ten.

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

This solution is certainly not the cheapest, but we win in time.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Prior to selecting OpCon, we evaluated UC4, Control-M, and APX.

What other advice do I have?

OpCon is easy to access, very easy to use, very complete, and always active.

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.
MarkRoshier - PeerSpot reviewer
OpCon/xps Support at Nationwide Building Society
Real User
Enables us to auto-schedule our mainframe batch a week in advance, making scheduling management simpler
Pros and Cons
  • "Auto-scheduling is the most valuable feature. We have the ability to schedule [batch jobs on our Unisys mainframes] seven days in advance, so we know exactly how we're running every night."
  • "Do your first install, your first upgrade, with SMA. It's simple, it's as per the manual, as per the training, but you need that little bit of confidence."

What is our primary use case?

We use it to run all of our batch across seven Unisys mainframes.

It's installed on Windows.

How has it helped my organization?

OpCon has streamlined the batch. It's made it quicker. We're processing work a lot more easily now, given the dependencies and frequencies we have. We don't really have to think about checking things. It's all there in the system and done.

When we first brought it in, we saved on people's time. We freed them up to be able to look at the future. We freed up two or three people who used to have to work on it all the time. In terms of batch savings overnight, we've probably saved a good couple of hours per night on batch scheduling.

What is most valuable?

Auto-scheduling is the most valuable feature. We have the ability to schedule seven days in advance, so we know exactly how we're running every night. If we need to make any changes, we can make changes to the daily schedule and we don't have to worry about changing masters or quarterlies. Changing our master schedule causes us issues. We have another product that doesn't work quite like this and when they have to change the master schedule they have problems. Because we have the ability to auto-build seven days in advance, we only need to change the daily and not the masters.

What needs improvement?

Believe it or not, there is nothing that we require. Everything we want is there. Everything we need, we get. The support we get, and the management support we get from SMA — we have a monthly review meeting with them — are fantastic.

For how long have I used the solution?

We, as an organization, have been using OpCon for 20 years. We're running version 17, but we're just about to upgrade to 19, which is the current release.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability is fantastic. It's 100 percent. We've never had a problem with the product from day one.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It's fully scalable. We're currently reviewing moving it into our Windows estate, which is huge, and we're possibly looking at moving it into other areas as well. It's fully scalable, obviously with charges. We pay for a set of licenses to run on the Unisys. If we want it to run on other machines, we would have to pay more for the licenses, which is standard for any product.

We run about 2,000 jobs a day, and we are looking at potentially expanding it to 25,000 jobs a day, if our Windows systems move across. We're just about to go into proof of concept on that.

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

We were using an SMA product, Scheduler, but they stopped supporting that product and then we migrated to their updated product which was OpCon.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was easy, as are the updates. It took us about an hour to do it, given the way that it's all written down for you. You can have a resource from them onsite if you want or you just load the software and it goes off and does it all for you. We've done it numerous times and we've never had a problem.

In terms of our deployment strategy, we already had an SMA product called Scheduler. What we did was we took a copy of our database, gave it to SMA, and they migrated it through into OpCon for us. They gave it to us and let us play with it, test it, and make sure it was working okay and then we migrated straight over to it. It was as simple as that. We couldn't find any problems and we migrated straight away. We've never had any problems with it.

SMA is fantastic to work with. They're knowledgeable, they know the products, and they don't try and force anything upon us. They're happy to work with us. They understand our limitations, and they still do to this day.

What was our ROI?

We've seen a tenfold return on investment. The relationship we have with SMA now is absolutely fantastic. They don't just do batch scheduling. They've come in and offered other services.

We're processing the batch a lot quicker, so our services to members are not down. The money is available and in people's accounts a lot quicker than it used to be. It gives us 100 percent availability. It doesn't fail; we've never had a problem with it. 

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

It's not expensive. It's a lot cheaper than competitors. Licensing is annual.

There are only additional costs to the standard licensing fees if we go above what we've agreed to. If we were to add a new Unisys mainframe, or if we add a Unix box or a Windows box, then obviously we'd have to pay for licenses. There's nothing else.

You need to be up-front and tell what SMA what you want. There are different licensing models for different setups. There are a lot of options, so it's really a matter of working out exactly what options you require. What works for our organization, Nationwide, may not work for the next company or the company after that. But they have a lot of licensing options available. And if there isn't one that you want, you can make your own with SMA.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

There isn't anybody else that does Unisys. There's no other product for running automated batch on Unisys. Obviously, there are other companies in the market that can do Windows and other systems, but no one out there can really run Unisys. And Unisys recommends OpCon anyway.

I, myself, do not use other similar products, but Nationwide does. We use a product called Control-M from BMC. We can't find any advantages of Control-M over OpCon. The drawbacks of Control-M are that it's too expensive and an upgrade takes ages, days, to do.

OpCon is cheaper and the service we get from SMA is absolutely fantastic. The product is always growing. We're seeing it grow. We're seeing the changes, and we're seeing the changes that we're asking for in the product. We don't see that from BMC. That's why we're looking to move Windows from Control-M into OpCon, possibly.

What other advice do I have?

My advice would be to work with SMA. Don't try and do it yourself. Work with SMA until you're comfortable; until you've got the training and the expertise. Work with them until you're comfortable taking it on without one of them there. Do your first install, your first upgrade, with SMA. It's simple, it's as per the manual, as per the training, but you need that little bit of confidence. That's what we've found. We've got that confidence now, and we don't rely on SMA at all to come in to help us.

The biggest lesson I've learned by using the product is trust it. Trust what SMA says. Believe what they say, because what they say is right. The migration is easy and they can do most migrations. Their training is fantastic, their support people are fantastic, and the support is out of this world. We're UK-based, so we have a UK team that looks after us in our daylight hours, and then we have a US-based team, and then we have an on-call US-based team as well, if we have problems. But we've never had to call them out. We've dealt with them, we've had our little questions and niggles, but they've answered everything, every time.

The product is always improving. The new release 19 has a load of new features for us. I've not really looked at it yet, but I think it's become faster, more slick, and a bit more user-friendly. They've taken on a lot of what customers have been saying about it. They've made some behind-the-scenes changes, but they've also made some enhancements to the way information is presented. My system, the Unisys, is quite old, so there's probably not a lot to change in that arena. It's probably more on the Windows and Unix side, which we don't use currently.

We don't really have users as such, because it's a batch scheduling tool. We have about 30 users who have access to it, but only for support purposes. We've got a team called Schedule and Batch which looks after things and check it. My team has access to it, but we very rarely use it and we're not limited on the number of users. The scheduling team is responsible for making sure all the batch work that is scheduled finishes correctly. We also have an ECC team, whose members are like operators. They look after the machines that run all the batches overnight. And then my team is a support team. We support the ECC in scheduling batch, if they have any problems with the product or with any of the batch jobs overnight.

For updates and maintenance of the solution we need just one person, me. My job is platform manager, but I'm also the OpCon subject matter expert as well.

On a scale of one to ten, this product is a 12. But I'll accept making it a ten.

Disclosure: PeerSpot 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.