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Power End-User Computing the Smart Way

John Trapani, Industry Leader, Financial Services, Appian
June 28, 2023

In January 1983 the computing world changed forever: Lotus 1-2-3 was released. This early spreadsheet program for IBM PCs ushered in the modern business computing environment by providing business users with a way to take ownership of their own solutions. Instead of relying on the IT department, users could use 1-2-3 to build applications by themselves, ushering in the era of end-user computing (EUC). 

Fast forward to today, and end-user computing is as popular as ever. Though the tools have changed, the practice persists. End users continue to find ways to solve their own problems by using desktop-oriented tools like spreadsheets and email. 

On the surface, this makes sense—who knows your problems better than you do? However, this sometimes means users create inelegant, brittle processes that are hard to audit and even harder to maintain. These solutions often rely on desktop tools or overly simplistic “no-code” platforms. Some lines of business even sponsor what are known as “shadow IT teams”: small teams of programmers who use even more advanced tools to build solutions without any participation from the IT department. 

Businesses’ desire to control their own applications has proven consistent over time, but achieving this goal is not without some serious drawbacks. And when it comes time to support these applications, IT is often left holding the bag. 

Try these end-user computing best practices (EUC).

How many of these end-user computing best practices have you implemented at your organization? 

  • Enhanced auditability: More auditable EUC applications ensure reliable and comprehensive audit reports. 

  • Seamless integration: By improving the integration of EUC applications with the larger environment, organizations can streamline data transfers between platforms and mitigate security and scalability risks.

  • Enhanced controls: Implementing robust controls, such as quality assurance and release management practices, fosters better change management and version tracking and satisfies the expectations of auditors, regulators, and supervisors.

  • Transparency and process visibility: Ensuring high process visibility lets you better track work status, respond promptly to issues and requests, and improve customer experiences.

  • Proactive maintenance: By managing technical debt and promoting responsible changes, organizations maintain agility and reduce risks associated with future modifications.

  • Effective transition to IT: As EUC applications transition to IT teams, proper resource provisioning and collaboration ensure secure and reliable operations, leveraging the strengths of both end users and IT professionals.

How can you reap the benefits of EUC while minimizing risks and letting your end users contribute directly to their own solutions? That’s where the Appian Platform comes in.

Use Appian for end-user computing remediation.

There are two main ways Appian can help you deploy automation to remediate end-user computing while avoiding the usual pain points:

  • End-user computing via configuration.

  • End-user computing via citizen development.

Both configuration and citizen development will allow your users to maintain some control over their destinies while still ensuring applications are well-designed, properly deployed, and able to scale to meet business needs.

End-user computing via configuration.

A great way to provide end users with some control over their solutions is to use Appian to build configurable applications. Configurable applications are built by the IT team but include user interfaces that allow end users to make meaningful changes to their applications without going through a development cycle. 

For example, complex workflows may have some steps that simply don’t apply to all cases. Sometimes the application can automatically decide which steps make sense, but sometimes these cases aren’t known in advance. Allowing end users to participate in the configuration of these workflows is a great way to make sure that they can quickly respond to important changes while guaranteeing that the application is well-built, secure, and properly managed. 

This approach is so valuable that Appian uses it for its connected customer lifecycle management solutions, which provide out-of-the-box applications covering institutional onboarding, customer servicing, and Know Your Customer (KYC) workflows. End users of these solutions have a great degree of flexibility to modify the behavior of these applications without needing to rely on the delivery team for help.

End-user computing via citizen development.

Another way to enable EUC is to turn some end users into citizen developers. Appian allows you to activate citizen developers safely and set up guardrails to avoid common pitfalls. You can do this by having your team of software development professionals handle the back-end integrations, making available components that end users can assemble into applications. End users can skill up and build Appian applications using the components your team provides. 

This approach lets your team handle the work of integration with legacy systems, services, and databases and allows users to build applications more easily. Users get the benefit of control over their solutions, while your team can make sure that applications are built on a solid foundation with a platform that you trust.


End-user computing and shadow IT address a need perceived by many lines of business and have been popular for nearly forty years. In that time, they have become more ambitious in scope but are increasingly out of step with the needs of the complex, modern, and secure environments in place at most financial institutions. Using Appian will let your team reap the benefits of EUC while giving your internal customers a stake in their own solutions.

Get best practices for empowering citizen developers while establishing governance in the webinar, Low-Code and Citizen Development: Best Practices for Governing Innovation.