Appian puts polish into BPM
Appian Enterprise 5.1 bolsters collaborative workflow with flexible features and slick modeling
In addition to an onboard rules engine, Appian offers adapters to third-party engines, and it can be extended through custom Java classes. A newly added rules repository goes the extra step in making it easier to manage and update rulesets. The rules expression editor proved a powerful way to access and manipulate event messages, process data, objects, and system variables, providing a simple interface and offering good testing and validation.
The Developer Edition offers a couple of added plug-ins, namely for Smart Node development within the Eclipse IDE, and enterprise integration with MDY FileSurf records management software. I would highly recommend the Eclipse plug-in if your processes require anything beyond the basic Smart Nodes. Objects and variable tracking in the straight Enterprise version will become convoluted quickly.
Bells and whistles
Security is good. Administrators get separate lockdown mechanisms for system access and processes, although they also must manage them separately. A unified interface to centrally manage all together would make life easier. Still, Appian provides options for delegation and it supports SSO (single sign-on). SSO is based on HTTP header, though, and so does not extend to the Outlook client.
The XML-structured definitions of the ASI (Appian Standards for Interfaces) provide extensive customization capabilities, covering the appearance of the entire system. Forms, wizards, and tutorial-like prompts within the user interface can be tailored to ease newbies into BPM workflow without a hitch in the learning curve. With a little effort, you can even create a low-bandwidth interface that allows your road warriors to stay in step with their cubically confined cohorts.
Appian is nicely extensible, as well. Its solid Web services API -- any process can be fired by an external trigger -- and support for SOAP, WSDL, and UDDI provide the means to make BPM an organic extension of your existing ecosystem.
With Version 5.1, Appian Enterprise has truly hit full stride on the fast track of human-centric process management. It’s well-equipped to help businesses find light at the end of the process tunnel by improving visibility into business activity and streamlining collaborative workflow. And, costing significantly less than leading competitors, you may pull into the next fiscal depot with some spending money left in your pocket.
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