Task Reassignment vs. Collaboration

So, you got a task assigned and you accept it. Then you find out that you need support from a colleague and reassign it to that person. You would want to include a message to explain your desire. And you would want to see that activity being recorded to the audit trail of that specific process.

That is what you want, but not what you do! Or, to be more specific, you use the wrong tool to do that.

But …. what!?!?!

Let’s briefly look at a fundamental concept in business process design. I am talking about accountability for results for an accepted task. The person accepting a task owns that task and is responsible for the outcome, compliance to internal and external regulation, legal completeness and correctness, and adherence to deadlines.

Task Collaboration

When collaborating with others, you keep the ownership. Others can only support you in fulfilling that task you accepted. And that is exactly the concept you need to build into your application! This is not what the reassignment feature in Appian is meant for.

When building this, you can include features like event recording, approvals, parallel collaboration, … your imagination is the limit.

The initial task will stay with you. Your colleagues will get separate tasks and their own accountability. Once you got what you needed, you complete your task eventually. And it would be better to do it within the given time 😉

Task Reassignment

Now, when reassigning a task, using the reassignment feature in Appian, you pass the accountability along to others. That is the only thing you do, without spending any time on trying to actually work on it. And, from that moment on, you no longer care about this task.

Now, from a process design perspective, the important information to record on tasks is, who completed it. Who is accountable for the outcome?! And was it completed within the given time.

Before I forget, there is an interesting detail in the reassignment implementation in Appian. There is the group of assignees from which any member can accept the task and become the owner. Now, when a user that is in the process security role of a Manager reassigns a task, he actually modifies this group of assignees. This is different to when a non-Manager user does the same, where the group of assignees is not touched. This feature is based on the typical team and team manager setup found in almost all companies.


Based on this concept, Appian specifically designed the reassignment feature. Do not try to use it for anything else.

And yes, I am aware that there are scenarios in which you want to switch this off and implement something custom. Be aware of two things.

  1. This increases your development, test, debugging, and maintenance effort.
  2. Your client now has the problem that various Appian based applications behave entirely different.

I tend to slip into the role of a trusted advisor and try to educate my client on the concept of task accountability first. After explaining how Appian supports reassignment and collaboration, we typically find a plain-vanilla Appian solution and stay on the high-speed-low-code track.

Happy Appian-ing!

2 thoughts on “Task Reassignment vs. Collaboration

  1. This is impressive, could you brief about two types of tasks like process driven and data driven. And what’s the best way to design application?

    1. Use all Appian features as much as possible and build process driven apps. There are only rare cases where you might have to built a custom implementation of a OOTB Appian feature.

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