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Why Process Modeling Is Better with Low-Code

Catherine Canary, Appian
September 19, 2022

Processes are the heart of every organization and every workflow. But if yours are a bit of a mess, you’re not alone. Businesses everywhere are struggling with inefficiency and just can’t seem to digitize workflows fast enough. And when they do, it’s hard to tell if they've even improved the problems they set out to solve in the first place . . . or just created more chaos.

That’s why leading organizations across industries are turning to modern business process management (BPM) technologies for faster, simpler, and more efficient processes. And this is where low-code process modeling comes in.

Process modeling with low-code.

Process modeling is the first step to optimizing processes. It is the act of mapping out a process graphically in a clear, intuitive diagram called a process model. On its own, a process model is simply a picture of a workflow. A process model created in a low-code platform, however, is much more powerful. Because leading low-code platforms have easy-to-use process modeling capabilities built in, they let you quickly turn your process models into applications that will facilitate your processes—no coding skills required.

Low-code platforms let you design workflow-based applications as easily as drawing a flowchart. Simply drag and drop prebuilt process components into a visual process modeling interface, then turn that process model into an application, right there in the same platform.

On its own, a process model is simply a picture of a workflow . . . [but] with low-code, you can quickly turn your process models into applications that will facilitate your processes—no coding skills required.

And leading low-code platforms automatically integrate with all your other systems and data without any data migration requirements. So, low-code process models directly incorporate the people, systems, and data you need to execute business rules, manipulate data, integrate with your other apps, schedule and automate complex processes, task users with work, and connect forms and interfaces . . . all in one tool. From front line to back office, bot to human employee, process modeling with low-code gets everyone working together in the same system.

The bottom line: A quality low-code platform won’t just give you a process model that shows you a picture of your workflow—with low-code, your process model is your workflow. When you model your processes in a low-code platform, you can turn those models into applications in just a matter of minutes.

Process modeling is at the center of leading low-code platforms.

Process modeling is at the center of the best low-code platforms, forming the foundation for designing business workflows and tying together other key platform capabilities, including:

Process mining.

Process mining tools analyze event log data to automatically create a visual map of how your business processes are actually running—essentially, an as-is process model. They then use AI to identify where your processes are slowing down or being held up as well as the root cause of those hold ups. When you create process models in a strong low-code platform, you don’t have to take any extra steps to go from insight to action. That is, right there in the same interface, you can fix the identified bottlenecks in just a few clicks by dragging and dropping process components to create a new, optimized model.


Workflows are defined by process models. So when you use a low-code platform for process modeling, you can turn your models into workflow-based apps in just a few clicks. With everything you need to build quality workflow applications in a unified interface, you can design and go live with new solutions in just weeks.

And what’s more, good low-code platforms use industry-standard business process model notation, or BPMN, letting business and IT teams speak a common language. When your app designs are just as accessible to your business stakeholders and citizen developers as they are to your professional developers, you minimize back-and-forth communication and reach go-live faster.


When you create process models in low-code platforms with automation capabilities, adding automation into your workflows can be done in seconds. Users can simply select from a menu of automation capabilities, like robotic process automation, intelligent document processing, AI, decision rules, and smart services, and drag them into their visual process model wherever they’re needed. No coding expertise required. No additional tools. No extra steps.

So it’s for those reasons, then, that the Appian Process Modeler sits at the very center of our low-code platform. How does that look in practice? Let’s take a quick glance behind the curtain.

The Appian Process Modeler.

The Appian Process Modeler, part of the Appian Low-Code Platform, is broken up into three main areas:

  • The process model toolbar.
  • The node and smart services palette.
  • The process model canvas.

To start building a workflow, you simply drag and drop nodes (representing tasks, activities, or events) and automation smart services from the palette onto the canvas. And making changes to customize applications is equally as easy. Just double click a node and make edits to get your processes to do exactly what you want them to.

Appian is designed to thrive when confronted with even the most complex processes—and very seldom is a business process not complex. Think your workflows are simple? You’re probably not looking at them holistically enough. Even “straightforward” processes have nuances and ripple effects that might not be immediately apparent. Appian supports complicated, "thorn-y" processes with things like parallel branching, complex gateways (e.g., let's say three people are given an approval task, but if one of them is an executive, once that executive approves the process moves forward automatically), and other modern features.

And if you find you need something that’s not prebuilt into the platform (some business needs are truly unique), you can add custom code right there in the process modeler interface, too.

But it’s the data fabric capabilities built into the Appian Process Modeler that really save you time and resources. The nodes in our process modeler integrate directly with all your systems and data—accessing, syncing, and orchestrating information from anywhere, pre-optimized for performance. Your data stays where it lives today. No need to migrate it into a new system or transport it into a database, warehouse, or lake. That means you won’t have to bring in a data specialist or any additional resources to prepare and connect data to your apps, which is often the most time-consuming part of development. Few low-code providers can offer you that.

With workflow and strong process modeling capabilities at its core, the Appian Low-Code Platform is trusted by leading organizations across industries to discover, design, and automate business processes, fast.

Check out the Business Process Management Guide to learn how to get started with process modeling using the Appian Low-Code Platform.