Appian Upgrade Makes BPM More Accessible

Appian Enterprise 5.6 adds Ajax-powered interfaces, real-time analytics, Microsoft Office plug-ins and RSS capabilities to make it easier to access and control business processes.
The idea of spreading business process management to more users is nothing new, but Vienna, VA-based Appian is casting an ever-wider net with the May 21 release of Appian Enterprise 5.6. The upgrade spreads process access and control through new Ajax-powered designer and rules interfaces, improved access to real-time metrics, and enhanced integration with Microsoft Office apps and RSS feeds.

Appian's new browser-based Ajax interfaces include an environment for creating and managing business rules, complete with a centralized rule repository. Using this interface, users can quickly modify, say, the rule-based thresholds that trigger alerts or subprocesses without changing the underlying business process. Rules managed in the repository also can be reused and changed globally, saving time when designing new processes and when making changes across multiple processes employing the same rule. Appian's Ajax-powered Interface Designer lets customers create custom Web-based forms, dashboards and other process interfaces. What's more, the new rule and process interfaces can be delivered as WSRP and JSR 168 portlets, so they can be consumed in any standards-compliant portal or application.

Appian Enterprise 5.6 includes new optimization technology aimed at delivering real-time analytics and enabling "self-optimizing" processes. For example, a process designer might set a rule that unfinished tasks should be escalated after 24 hours. Appian's process engine can now query performance statistics in real time and detect that the average task time is actually down to eight hours and the threshold could be automatically reset to, say, 12 hours. Using this capability, flows, exceptions, escalations and work assignments could be reset in response to actual process conditions, thereby driving adaptive process improvement. Similarly, real-time reporting could feed process monitors and continuous process improvement initiatives.

Appian previously offered a Microsoft Outlook plug-in, but new "Smart Node" plug-ins in the 5.6 upgrade let users interact with processes directly through Word, Excel and e-mail templates. Exploiting a plug in, a process could automatically generate an Excel-based report and then e-mail it to specified recipients on a periodic basis or when thresholds are exceeded. The 5.6 upgrade also adds support for RSS feeds, so process lists, task lists, process models, documents and discussion forums can now be subscribed to and aggregated on desktops, mobile devices and Web sites.

“The only way for organizations to fully tap into the knowledge and ingenuity of their workforce is to empower all users to be part of the process, and this is the philosophy that drove all of the innovations in Appian Enterprise 5.6,” stated Matt Calkins, CEO of Appian.