Appian World 2013 Business Track — How to Create a Chain Reaction of Appian Adoption

The first BPM project success creates excitement and visions of complete enterprise transformation. Unsure of how to make their programs catch fire, many business leaders look to us and ask “what should I do next?” In the second session of the Business track, two Appian VPs tackled this question. In “How to Create a Chain Reaction of Appian Adoption,” Evan McDonnell, VP of Solutions, and Marc Wilson, VP of Industry Markets, shared how clients successfully manage this key inflection point in their journey to transform the business.


McDonnell started the presentation by acknowledging that it’s a pretty audacious thing to be standing up talking about how Appian software can create a “chain reaction” of improvements. He’s worked at a number of software companies but only felt comfortable doing it with Appian — because he’s already witnessed the phenomenon several times! According to McDonnell, a “chain reaction” is when news of your success with Appian catches on quickly. People want to know how you did it so they can change their course and achieve the same results.

Everyone in the audience at Appian World 2013 is at a different point in their Appian journey. McDonnell suggested that a chain reaction is for you, if:

  • You understand Appian and know what “platform potential” means
  • You know the challenge of moving a bureaucracy
  • Your organization has embarked on some type of transformation initiative
  • You welcome the opportunity to be known as a change agent in your company
  • You are prepared to “rock the world” of some of your peers!

Signs That a Chain Reaction is Beginning

  • “This project normally would take 12 months, how did you do it in six?”
  • “2-3 projects a year is nice, but how can I do 100?”
  • “Why are we buying [COTS application]? Can’t we build this in Appian?”
  • “XYZ group should do that in Appian. Are they covered under our license?”
  • “I want business managers creating their own applications that go-live in 2-3 weeks.”
  • “How can I run multiple projects in parallel?”

Wilson went on to talk about challenges that a change agent will face. Statements you might hear include, “Appian? Oh, that’s just our [insert a single function here] system.” or “We just can’t move that fast.” Some people don’t understand the power of the Appian application platform.

Keys Plays to Start Your Chain Reaction
First projects have to have meaningful, noticeable impact on the business. Choose carefully — Appian can guide you. Subsequent projects should still be meaningful, but now it’s important to have those processes touch “Key Groups.” Good key groups are found in revenue generation, senior executives, and central operations. Applications that have mobile interfaces (which only take a check of the box in Appian) get rapid, broad adoption. McDonnell suggested that “lite” initiatives are good fuel for the fire; find a group with lots of inefficient processes, train the staff and have them build quick applications right away.

Worksocial Participation
Wilson explained that worksocial usage does NOT need to be application driven. Using worksocial, employees can be kept apprised of new customers, new milestones, topics of interest, and new products. The goal is to achieve “normalcy” and increase “ownership” in the organization. You need people to want to use the system!

Wilson provided a valuable look into how Appian uses our own software for worksocial, by hooking his iPad up to the projector. He showed off his views into opportunities, tech RFIs, flagged at-risk customers, hockey ticket giveaways, and much more!

Why Mobile is so Important
Where is mobile growing in your business? McDonnell pointed out that even if mobile isn’t growing within your organization, it still has a huge impact on your business. Think about the 200 person insurance carrier… with 4,000 independent agents who have iPads. Senior staff appreciates mobile as it speeds processes and cuts backlogs. Take a legacy system that’s not easy to use, and make it mobile accessible from a clean interface, and you will really impress those who control the purse strings.

Parallel Projects and COEs
Wilson talked about the best ways to handle parallel projects and manage multiple organizations. He recommends creating a “central” entity (a Center of Excellence) that can pool certain types of resources, leverage group training, and share information and success. How do you recruit the next organization to jump on the Appian train? Use those who are part of current process efforts, talk to your team members about groups they interact with, and do lunch-and-learns. The goal is to get others in the organization excited about process improvement.

What’s YOUR Plan for a Chain Reaction? Chat with Appian today and we’ll help you figure that out!

Alena Callaghan

Web Marketing Manager