Low-Code Process Automation With Appian: Getting Started

Tjebbe van den Heuvel
March 21, 2024
15 min read

We believe that these technologies have the potential to increase business outcomes significantly. As such, a Low-Code Automation Platform can reduce costs, increase efficiency, speed up application development time, and much more. However, in order to maximize outcomes, it is of crucial importance to use the right tool for the right use case. After all, a fool with a tool is still a fool, right?

Therefore, analyzing your business processes and identifying the right use case for your low-code automation tool determines the success or failure of a project. This is why Appian, our partner and leaders in Gartner’s quadrant for Enterprise Low-Code Application Platforms (2020), precisely describe how every organization should assess the fitness of Appian’s platform for a project. In this blog, we will explain how to identify the right Appian use case by following 4 simple steps.

Hyperautomation, Low-Code Application Development (LCAD), Intelligent Process Automation (IPA), and Robotic Process Automation (RPA)... All buzzwords that you will most likely have heard of. And rightly so, if you ask us! We believe that these technologies have the potential to increase business outcomes significantly. As such, a Low-Code Automation Platform can reduce costs, increase efficiency, speed up application development time, and much more. However, in order to maximize outcomes, it is of crucial importance to use the right tool for the right use case. After all, a fool with a tool is still a fool, right?

Find Opportunities To Address Business Processes

The first requirement for a project to be successful, is to identify a business challenge: a challenge for which an Appian application can provide a solution. Commonly, if your business struggles with one (or more) of the following issues, Appian is probably the right way to go.

1. Low-Value, Repetitive Workflow Processes

If you have business processes where employees are performing the same task over and over again, Appian could offer a solution. By doing so, productivity will improve, fewer errors will be made, KPIs will become more measurable, and employee engagement will increase.

2. Knowledge Worker Inefficiencies

Ever heard employees complaining they have to navigate multiple silos to complete daily tasks, and thus lose a lot of time? With Appian, this problem belongs to the past. Similarly to previous business challenge, Appian increases productivity and fewer errors will be made.

3. Rigid Business Capabilities

Does your organization struggle with inflexible core business capabilities, or are you unable to adapt to market demand or changing operation priorities? Choosing for Appian could improve service levels and lower cycle-time.

4. Slow Product/Service Development Time

Try to ask yourself the following question: “Where would an increase in speed to market have a meaningful impact on business performance?”. Speeding up product and service development time will lower cycle-time, greater capture of market opportunities, and increase business agility.

In Each Opportunity, Identify Critical Success Factors

Once you identified valuable use cases, the time has come to determine critical success factors: factors your organization believes to be of crucial importance to the solution to reach maximal outcomes. Appian excels in providing solutions with the following 9 characteristics.

1. Deliver Functionality Rapidly

Low-Code Application Development with Appian reduces development time significantly. On top of that, fast project delivery results in fast business impact.

2. Automating Complex Business Processes

Process automation with Appian is all about supporting your business where dynamic workflows with conditional logic rule the day.

3. Support Business Processes That Cut Across Teams

Let’s be honest, the conventional way of working in silos is time-consuming and should belong to the past. Appian enables true collaboration across teams, departments, and business units.

4. Creating A Unified User Experience

Ever struggled with data scattered all over the place, making it hard to retrieve the information you need? Appian allows your organization to get data from different systems and display them in a single place.

5. Enable Target Users To Access Multiple Systems

Gaining access to multiple systems becomes child’s play, as Appian has state-of-the-art integration capabilities.

6. Access Data From And Send Data To Legacy Systems

Ever struggled with data being locked-in in legacy systems? Appian can easily interact with these systems using Robotic Process Automation (RPA), allowing you to access and send data without effort.

7. Integrate Pre-Built Or Custom-Built AI Services

Automating business processes is one thing, automating them intelligently another. With AI-services such as Optical Character Recognition (OCR), chatbots, or sentiment analysis, Appian adds ‘intelligent’ to process automation.

8. Engage Or Inform Multiple Stakeholders Across Workflow Lifecycles

No more loss of information, as Appian makes it easy to send notifications, or escalate and alert individuals or groups within your organization.

9. Ability To Perform Mobile Data Entry, Review, Or Approval

Does your organization often has to deal with tasks such as employee check-ins, management approvals, or field audits with screen capture? Appian gets your organization right where it wants to be.

Watch Out For Pitfalls

As it is crucial to identify success factors, it is equally important to watch out for signs that indicate Appian might not be able to provide an answer to your business challenge. Following pitfalls can possibly jeopardize an Appian project:

1. Extensive Data Extraction, Transformation, and Loading (ETL)

2. Complex Date Visualization Across Different Systems

3. Complex Data Manipulation

4. Backend Process Management Without Any User Interaction

The latter does not necessarily have to mean Appian can be of no use. However, sufficient attention must be paid to these matters BEFORE starting the project in order to mitigate risks.

Prioritize Project Opportunities

Automation opportunities found, critical success factors identified, and pitfalls avoided? Great job! Let’s have a look at the last step: prioritize project opportunities.

Figure 1 Project Prioritization Matrix (source: Appian Community)

Getting started with the first Appian project ever within your organization? Look for “quick wins” (see figure 1, top right quadrant). These quick wins can be recognized as being easily executable with high business impact. For the scope of these projects, you should aim between 6 and 8 weeks for the first Minimum Viable Product (MVP).

Successfully completing such initial projects quickly allows your organization to obtain the maturity and knowledge to shift to the lower right quadrant of the prioritization matrix. “Worthy efforts” also deliver high business impact, but are characterized as more complex. Consequently, these projects require more effort and cover a wider scope than quick wins.

Let’s Talk Automation

Time for a little recap. Automating or digitizing your business processes with technologies such as a Low-Code Automation Development Platform could significantly increase business outcomes. However, to unlock true business value, always make sure to identify the right use case for the right tool. This can be achieved by:

1. Finding opportunities to address business processes

2. In each opportunity, identify critical success factors

3. Watch out for pitfalls

4. Prioritize project opportunities

Figure 2 Appian Fit Assessment Tool

Wondering if your organization has the right use case to start (or expand) your automation journey, or simply intrigued by Appian and/or Low-Code Process Automation? Take the Appian Fit Assessment Test with us and let’s talk automation!

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