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Appian as the Agility Layer for your ERP

Ray Wulff, Appian Industry Leader, Global Defense & Intelligence Programs
September 8, 2022

In government agencies around the world, large enterprise legacy systems are what stand in the way of desperately needed modernization programs. Such legacy systems can be large enterprise resource planning (ERP) implementations or custom-built applications using complex codebases. Simply put, they are not supportable, upgradable, and do not provide the rich user experience customers have become accustomed to. Additionally, many of these legacy systems, particularly in the ERP space, have been highly customized to meet the past business processes—and as a result, these modified systems can no longer be updated with the latest version of the software.

Challenges of relying on a single legacy system.

Frustrated IT and business leaders are presented with multiple challenges when reliant on a single legacy system. The concept of upgrading or changing to a new system increases the risk of failure. Newly available technologies cannot be easily trialed, deployed, or integrated—and the budgetary drain these legacy systems create is significant. Support and modification require unique and specialized consultation, and further customization is daunting—and, in many cases, impossible. Lastly, if the software vendor is still in business, the ongoing license support eats into IT budgets without customers seeing additional value.

When embarking on a comprehensive modernization program, agencies and services are setting out to achieve high flexibility with low risk. High flexibility allows them to modify processes and technology as they evolve over time. Low risk speaks to the importance of saving time and money, while increasing confidence. And as these processes change and organizations re-organize and grow, having your IT systems keep up with the agility needed to meet these changes is paramount.

Appian as your agility layer.

Appian is leveraged by over 200 government agencies to bridge legacy systems with a modern, enterprise platform that end-users have grown to expect.

Appian can serve as an “agility layer” by bridging the gap between old and new systems. Invoking and deploying an agile, modern cloud platform layer gives organizations:

  • A single pane of truth that reduces the need for “swivel chairing” between the old and new.
  • A buffer to the new system that eliminates the need to customize core financial and supply chain processing.
  • A modern, flexible, mobile-native user experience which can be updated via drag and drop actions as opposed to coding.
  • Transparent business process automation capability where processes can be improved, tested, modified and deployed without compromising the integrity of the core ERP system.
  • A platform by which new technologies can be leveraged and integrated with legacy and new platforms concurrently.

This capability was not previously an option in the market due to technology limitations. However, through partnerships, advances in automation, and a compelling event created by large ERP vendors, this technique is rapidly accelerating and becoming recognized as an industry best practice.

Modernize IT by layering in agility.

As mentioned earlier, when embarking on a comprehensive modernization program, agencies and services desire high flexibility with low risk. High flexibility allows them to modify processes and technology as they evolve over time. As organizations reorganize, partner, and grow, processes change and are updated. Maintaining IT system flexibility is key. Concurrent with this flexibility is the ability to be agile enough to trial, adopt, and deploy new technologies as they are developed. Whether it be process mining, robotic process automation (RPA), or intelligence document processing (IDP), new technologies can improve operational efficiency and the user experience.

By deploying an agility layer on top of a legacy system, IT organizations can provide technological advances and added value to their customers while still processing transactions in legacy systems and new ERPs as they come online.

Technology has evolved—don’t get left behind.

Migrations from legacy systems to more modern agile systems continue to be an ongoing need for agencies and services. Reducing risk by increasing speed to production is a key characteristic when the agility layer concept is applied. Technology will continue to evolve and being nimble enough to take advantage of these advances in a secure, scalable, and agile way will determine the success or failure of an IT modernization effort.

For more information about deploying an agility layer with the Appian Low-Code Platform, visit