Modern BPM for Process Innovation Webinar Q&A

What are the new technology imperatives in a workplace for process improvement? If you missed the Modern BPM for Process Innovation Webinar, the recording is available on demand. You may also download the slides on slideshare and read a quick recap of the webinar on a blog. Here are the questions and answers from the webinar:

 

Presenter: Malcolm Ross, VP of Product Marketing at Appian

Q: How do you design & manage security for smart phones?
A: Design a native mobile experience with varying levels of encryption. Minimal to no data stored in mobile – all the secured data are send over the wire online and not saved in the phone.

Q: How does Appian work with legacy systems?
A: Out-of-the-box Smart Services to utilize web services, JMS connectivity, partner solutions, or connectors.

Q: Workflow capabilities of BPM vs. CRM (ERP, or legacy application)?
A: CRM & ERP system workflows are designed with those specific functions in mind and are very vertical in nature. BPM is a platform that is broader and can be extended across organizational functions and technology systems. The key differences being level of control and adaptability.

Q: Is the Business Rules engine native to Appian or is it a 3rd party engine?
A: Everything from the Modeler, Designer, Process Execution Engine, Analytics, as well as Rules Engine are from Appian, developed on a tightly integrated platform.

Q: Is your cloud offering multi-tenant or do customers have to run their own Amazon EC2 footprint?
A: It’s a combination – the backend architecture is EC2 and we can combine a multi-tenant or dedicated instance based on customer’s compliance preference. All customers get the benefit of the cloud experience. As a new upgrade to the Appian product comes out, all the updates to the server are done automatically so you don’t have to worry about upgrading the installations. We can dynamically scale – Appian servers or instances are not limited to a specific hardware requirements.

Q: Does Appian integrate to MS Sharepoint and social media sites?
A: Appian’s MS Sharepoint connector publishes tasks, key events, and reports to the Sharepoint system. In addition, the Sharepoint connector includes a web services interface to orchestrate all the core elements of a SP system, such as: creation, read, update and delete of lists, sites, folders, and documents. Developers can create process patterns to manage your Sharepoint environment. Also, extended Smart Services using OAuth can be used to connect to consumer-facing social media sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter and FaceBook to publish information to them.

Q: Can we then customize push updates?
A: Yes, you may create rules and schedule automatic updates to push out information, status, events, reports, and any other object in Appian.

Q: Can we customize the dashboard?
A:  Yes, the dashboard is customizable and configurable using out-of-the box report and dashboard templates, chart types (e.g., bar, line, pie, stack charts, and more), and expression builders. You may also set different security access levels and settings to each dashboard to provide an executive management dashboard, a team dashboard, or personalized dashboard by role.

Q: Is the dashboard available on the mobile app?
A: The dashboard is currently not available on the mobile app. For mobile users, a event monitoring / activity stream interface is better given the form factor of the device. Mobile users can quickly monitor activities and take actions, just like in the dashboard, but in a form factor that makes sense given the small screen size.

Q: Can Appian forms/processes be saved and applied to a new client? Such as a starter package?
A:  All Appian forms, processes, reports, dashboards, and objects are portable so you may export and import them into a new environment. You may also save forms and processes as templates to be used by designers, clients, and end-users of your designation. Appian also offers a number of industry solutions and functional templates to help clients create faster ROI based on existing best process practices.

Q: Cloud, Mobile, and Social have happened for Appian within the past 2 years.  What are the next different level of functionality that you see in the next 2 years?
A: Appian has been the leader in BPM and will continue to innovate. If you’re an Appian customer or partner, please stay tuned for product release announcements on Appian Forum. You may also follow us on Twitter or subscribe to the Appian blog for updates.

Q: Will Appian Mobile be available for all platforms?
A: Appian BPM is available on Apple iPhone, iPads, Google Android, and RIM Blackberry phones. We’ll continue to monitor the adoption for Microsoft Windows Phone 8 and other mobile device platforms to make strategic product investments based on market trends and customer demands.

Q: Is the Palette extensible and able to be restricted as to what elements may be used?
A: The Appian BPM design palette is extensible. Many of the out-of-the-box Smart Services plugins available today were developed by Appian Professional Services consultants. Similarly, you may develop your own custom plugins using the Appian Developer tool, than make those available in the palette for process designers to drag-and-drop into process models.

Q: What standards does the modeler employ (BPMN, etc.)
A: Appian supports the Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN) standard and is involved in key industry organizations, including WfMC, OMG, OASIS. Appian BPM also supports SOA frameworks for systems integration based on SOAP and REST web services.

Q: How does “social” integrate with Microsoft SharePoint collaboration or other social media environments?
A: See answer to “Does Appian integrate to MS Sharepoint and social media sites?”

Q: What is the iPad experience? The same as the iOS or optimized for the larger screen?
A: The Appian BPM experience on iPad, as demonstrated in the webinar during the Q&A portion, is based on Apple’s iOS and is very similar to the iPhone experience. It is, indeed, optimized for the larger screen so process designers have a larger screen to work with. Forms with dual columns, tables, images, and lengthier text descriptions are good candidates for the iPad format.

Q: Can you create parent processes that dynamically initiate “n” number of subprocesses? (e.g. one order as a process, and 10 sub-processes, 1 for each type of item ordered)
A: Yes, Appian allows designers to create dynamic number of sub-process instances based on a business rule.

Q: Do you [work with] 3rd party software to handle different platform devices?
A: Yes, Appian technology uses a variety of toolsets to ensure proper operation and compliance with various web browsers and mobile devices.

Q: How can we monitor desktop/mobile performance?
A: Business Activity Monitor (BAM) and analytics capabilities from Appian enable one to monitor processes performance. The Appian Server Administration Guide provides monitoring recommendations for performance optimization for on-premise instances of Appian BPM. The Real Time M onitor allows one to review the performance and status of each Appian Engine. Following best practices, monitoring the Appian Process and Analytics Engines, and reviewing log files will make sure the desktop and mobile experiences remain consistent and responsive.

Q: Are there any topics on ‘execute’ and ‘manage’ portion of BPM?
A: Yes, the Process Execution engine is the core of Appian Business Process Management Suite. Here’s an article for a brief overview, learn more about the Process Execution and Optimization capabilities for effective management and improvement of your processes. Read one of the industry analysts reports to learn more about Appian BPM and how it stacks against other vendors in this space. You may also find a whitepaper that might further address specific aspects or applications of BPM,

Q: I saw [how to use] Appian to build a form. But how does the Appian work with legacy systems to automate or execute the process?
A: Appian provides standards-based connectors and adapters for common system interfaces and integrations within a SOA framework. Integrate to systems and external services through SOAP and REST web services. You may also connect to existing RDBMS data sources to directly orchestrate and manage your enterprise data into new processes.

Q: Can you speak about how is the product licensed? Per user? per designer? Core based license?
A: Appian is licensed per user.

Q: Can you integrate to a customer native mobile application that is designed to interface with Appian?
A: Yes. Appian provides a number of integration adapters to connect data together on back-end servers.  This can be used to synchronize data across multiple applications.

Q: Is there a demo version I can play with?
A: Yes, you may sign up for an Appian BPM trial for full access in the cloud: https://www.appian.com/campaigns/appian-cloud-registration.jsp

Q: Is it possible for users to send data to server by offline way?
A: Yes. Appian provides an email listener framework, allowing users to draft conent offline and submit via email once connected.

Q: What is the difference between BPM and BPA?
A: Business Process Management (BPM) consists of methodologies and technologies to improve, manage, and optimize business processes to increase effectiveness, efficiency, and performance. Core components of a complete BPM Suite should consists of design, modeling, execution, monitoring, optimization capabilities. In recent years, many BPM Suites have evolved to include other capabilities for decision management through rules, content and document management, forms, social collaboration features, and analytics to address more complex use cases. Appian BPM includes all core and extended capabilities on an integrated platform.

Business Process Analysis (BPA) mostly focuses on process modeling and offline analysis to improve business performance. Although important, it’s a subset of what a full BPM Suite can provide. It is important to note that having a Business Analyst or specifically, a Business Process Analysts, is often a key requirement in many BPM projects. The BAs or BPAs are often more business oriented and less technical than say, a Process or IT System Administrator.

Q: How customizable is the interface? Can it be branded?
A: Appian BPM Interfaces on the web and on mobile are absolutely customizable configurable. All known Appian customers have a custom interface with their own logo, menu of options, forms, reports, dashboards, data and content types, and other attributes that are unique and designed for their specific processes.

Q: Does Appian have any capabilities to assist in migration from other BPM Applications?
A: Yes. All Appian artifacts, including process definitions are stored in a standard XML format.  Developers can create XML transformations to map existing process assets for import into Appian.

Cindy Cheng – Director of Product Marketing