Appian, almost there, but not quite...
Updated March 06, 2019

Appian, almost there, but not quite...

Anonymous | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 7 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
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Overall Satisfaction with Appian

We have Appian support here full time who are always helpful and understand both the products and our needs. They help guide the product to help it stay stable.

On the odd occasion we need to call Appian themselves, they have always been responsive and genuinely want to help us solve the issue.
Recently I've needed to send in quite a few support tickets for various issues, none of them were critical and 2 or 3 of them were just questions. Each time I got a response very quickly and each time the help was what was needed.
We are using Appian at Sunsuper to upgrade and solve a lot of business processes. We are currently moving away from older technologies and manual processes. It allows our company to automate a lot of super related operations that always required manual input and turning an operation that took days to just minutes.
  • Allows the use of BPMN to describe and implement a business process. Its not pure BPMN 2.0, but does the job nicely in most cases.
  • Forms can be build relatively easily and with 19.1 and will allow for a lot of flexibility in the layout too.
  • The ability to build Java plugins where needed is a huge benefit as there are very few solutions that can't be implemented using Appian.
  • Can port to multiple platforms relatively easily.
  • Database access is abstracted away, so trivial to move from one DB engine to another.
  • The new objects to allow connections to web services is very nicely done and handles OAuth very well.
  • No source control. In 19.1 they have included very minimal source control, but basically if you want to use GIT etc. you might be out of luck.
  • Very minimal debugging.
  • Appian boasts it is "low code", but it is anything but, especially if you want to do anything non trivial. To Appian's defence on this one, I've not seen any framework that is truely "low code". I've also noticed Appian's marketing has moved away from this.
  • Very hard to install and upgrade. This should be easy, but very hard to get right, very easy to mess up.
  • Doesn't scale easily, this again is a lot of hard work to get right and hard to maintain.
  • Automation of business processes
  • Time taken per process
  • Update and expand those processes
Overall, Appian as a development platform is good and bad.
On the down side, it has basically no source control as of 19.1 (though they argue it does), has very limited debugging built in, the language to create your UI is one of the weirdest you will come across (but once you get your head around it, it works - and they have improved the drag and drop UI builder, but you will pretty much always need to update the code it generates at some point). The BPMN is not standard, but easy to understand.
On the plus side, buildings processes is easy and fun. Once you understand it, building the forms you will need is very easy too. Building your business rules uses the same language as the UI, so that isn't too hard either. You can put an application together reasonable quickly, including accessing other systems via RESTful services and so on.
Again, it depends on what you are trying to implement. Automation of business processes using BPMN is amazing and very easy to do. Creating content for users to interact with can be trivial if a basic form is all that is needed, but most "modern" web pages aren't possible using Appian alone and without doing some "tricky" coding. Updating a UI via external events is non-trivial at best.
I want to point out, I don't believe low-code exists yet. Also, the definition of code needs to be defined before we head down this road. I am sure the advocates of low-code don't fully understand what coding is, or turn a blind eye to it.

Having said that, Appian does meet these criteria, but to be honest, it could do them a lot better (I know they are trying to get there).

It is scalable, but very hard to set up and get that right. Integration with existing platforms isn't too hard, especially if those platforms are web services themselves, but if they sit on an application bus like IIB or JMS or even Kafka, then it can be done, but will take a lot more work.
Depending on the area you want to implement, and the size of your business, Appian might be a perfect fit or a very bad decision. If you are a medium to large business with a lot of manual processes and work flows, then I would highly recommend Appian.

For a lot of business needs there are a lot of very good open source solutions that would do a much better job. Ruby on Rails (RoR) is one example that comes to mind (but there are many many others such as NodeJS, etc.). RoR creates applications quickly, has full source control, is easy to install and maintain, has a lot of 3rd party plugins to build your application quickly, integrates with technologies to allow scaling, multiple environments (dev, UAT, Prod etc) and has a huge web support presence.

So basically pick the right tool for the job.

Appian Feature Ratings

Visual Modeling
Drag-and-drop Interfaces
Platform Security
Platform User Management
Platform Scalability