“Pimp My App” through Business Process Management Software

I was in a meeting last week with an Appian client who wanted our professional services team to help with some enhancements.  This client had already achieved great success using our business process management software in financial operations for an order-to-cash process.  That success allowed their team to get approval from their CFO to expand the use of Appian to cover other financial operations processes such as purchase-to-pay and capital expenditure requests.  With so much going on, work demand exceeded their internal team’s capacity so they asked us to help with enhancements to the original order-to-cash application.  I looked at their list of enhancement requests and the first thing that popped into my mind was the MTV show “Pimp My Ride.”

In Pimp My Ride, young car owners get their vehicles customized at no cost to them.  Each car is modified and tailored to the personalities and interests of the owners. One car owner who loved to bowl got a ball spinner installed in his trunk.  Another owner who loved to surf got a clothes dryer installed in the back of his Volkswagen Bus.

This show came to mind because it was clear that all the application enhancements were things that would better adapt their application to their specific business processes.  They were making Appian’s technology work for them, not adapting to live with inflexible packaged software as so many companies do (which was the subject of my recent blog post).

Some of the enhancements were significant and added valuable new capabilities or extended the application to make cross-functional collaboration at the company work better.  If this application was built using traditional custom software development methods, the work involved would be substantial and run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Progress would also be slow because full specifications would need to be written out before any work could start.  But the work required in Appian is a fraction of that, and could be completed in a matter of weeks.  Our team would work collaboratively with the client from a list of requirements, not detailed specifications.

It was good that we had the meeting to review this client’s requests as we found some ways to give them even more capabilities.  For example, this client built their original application before we introduced Tempo.  They had relied on process approval by e-mail.  That was becoming frustrating for some users who had a large number of process instances to approve.  They wanted us to design a special capability for bulk e-mail approval, but we were able to suggest using Tempo instead.  With Tempo’s interface, tasks can be approved with a click or a finger swipe on a mobile device.  And by utilizing Tempo, their order-to-cash process became mobile with just a simple check of a box.  The sales team who had to take time out of their day to sit in front of their computers and work through e-mail approvals for customer deductions could now take care of them from their iPhone, Android, or Blackberry device while sitting in the waiting room of their next appointment.

So if you’re tired of inflexible software and want to catch up to the mobile and social capabilities happening all around us, talk to Appian and let us show you how you can Pimp Your Own App!

Evan McDonnell

Vice President of Solutions