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Pega vs Appian

Ronan McQuillan
12 min read · May 7, 2024

Pega and Appian are two of the biggest names in the automation space. In particular, they’re two highly enterprise-focused platforms that enable teams to automate workflows and processes without excessive custom code.

However, the market for automation builders is hugely varied. At one end of the spectrum, we have platforms that allow teams to create automations without writing any code at all. On the other, we have highly code-intensive platforms, aimed at more traditional development tasks.

Appian and Pega are both low-code automation tools. This means that they combine visual development tools with the ability to add custom code when it’s needed,

But even within this corner of the market, there’s plenty of variety between platforms - especially around target users, ideal use cases, technical requirements, costs, and other key decision points.

Today, we’re diving deep into everything you need to know to make an informed decision about which platform is best for you based on your specific requirements.

Along the way, we’ll see some of the key strengths, weaknesses, and selling points of each tool.

Let’s start with the basics.

Pega vs Appian: background

As we said already, Pega and Appian are both low-code automation builders. As such, there’s a lot of cross-over in terms of their core functionality and user experiences.

So, the essential value-add is enabling teams to quickly perform common development tasks while still retaining the power and flexibility that come along with custom code.

Let’s drill a little deeper into the basic positioning of both platforms.

Use cases

First, let’s think about key use cases.

Pega is primarily an enterprise workflow automation platform - with a heavy emphasis on AI decision-making. While it’s a viable option for a huge range of specific workflows, it’s most impressive when it comes to automating external-facing tasks.

This includes real-time interaction management, CRM extensions, case management, customer service workflows, and more.

For internal use cases, Pega is generally strong on tasks that involve applying defined business rules to complex or qualitative information. For instance, handling internal requests, tickets, or investigations.

On top of this, there’s a range of tools for building custom UIs and governing how users interact with our workflows - both of which we’ll check out in more detail a little later.

Appian targets a broader scope of use cases. Whereas Pega is primarily aimed at automating workflows, Appian is a business process automation platform - meaning it’s focused on end-to-end processes, rather than individual tasks.

As such, on top of low-code automation tools, it offers an extensive suite of features around process mining, performance monitoring, orchestration, risk management, data centralization, and other related activities.

This makes Appian highly suited to large-scale or mission-critical internal processes, such as resource planning, operations management, compliance tasks, supply chain, manufacturing, and more.

User personas

Appian and Pega are both squarely aimed at the enterprise end of the automation market, with a range of security, governance, and administration capabilities to meet the needs of large organizations.

However, they take somewhat different approaches to the specific users within these organizations that they target.

Appian primarily targets companies that want to retain centralization over their automation projects within IT and operations teams. We can see this in some of the key user experiences.

For instance, there are native tools for building an enterprise data layer as well as setting up private self-hosted AI models. We can also access a range of insights from native process intelligence and real-time reporting tools.

But, the flip side of this is that Appian may be more suited to slightly more technically skilled colleagues.

Pega has a somewhat different focus. It largely aims to empower on-the-ground colleagues to automate their own regular tasks while retaining control, governance, and oversight for IT teams.

In other words, it offers capabilities for citizen development, including reusable patterns and integrations, data governance tools, and a range of other tools for collaboration between IT teams and business users.

Pega is also a strong offering in terms of usability and developer experiences. There are dedicated tools within the platform aimed at different kinds of internal users - including DevOps, on-the-ground builders, data professionals, and more.

As such, the platform as a whole can offer highly tailored UXs to a range of users.


Naturally, pricing is a key decision point when comparing Appian vs Pega. However, this is also a relatively tricky issue, as we’re not necessarily comparing like-with-like since each platform is billed on a slightly different model.

Appian bills on a per-user per-month basis. However, there’s a functional community tier that offers a free, cloud-based personal development environment.

Besides this, there are three paid licenses - Standard, Advanced, and Premium.

Each of these presents restrictions in terms of both functionality and usage. For example, Standard licenses are limited to 5 RPA bots and can’t take advantage of multiple data sources.

Pricing information is not currently advertised publicly by Appian, but most reports currently place a standard license at around $75 per month - although final prices are based on custom quotes, so this could vary greatly.

Pega’s indicative pricing can be based on monthly users or cases - but custom quotes are available for both. There’s also a community edition, but this is more of a free trial as it’s limited to 30 days.

Again, there are three tiers for the Low-Code Factory, Standard, or Enterprise editions. Prices for these start at $35 per user per month or $0.45 per case.

On top of feature and usage-based limitations, Pega also imposes minimum commitments. So, we’ll need at least 500 named users or 350,000 annual cases, making this a prohibitive option for smaller-scale teams or use cases.

You might also like our round-up of the top ServiceNow alternatives .

Building automations in Pega vs Appian

Now that we have a better grasp of each platform’s basic positioning, we can begin to think more concretely about actual usage.

Of course, there are several levels that we can think about this across - from their basic in-app experiences for building automations to very granular feature comparisons.

Let’s break this down.

User experiences

Obviously, the most important aspect of user experiences in the context of comparing Appian to Pega is how we can build automations.

Within Pega, the basic building blocks of workflow automations are cases. Essentially, this is the structure of the data actions that need to be carried out in order for a given task to be completed.

We can then configure how each of these is performed. For instance by leveraging data collection forms, email notifications, if/then conditions, document generation, and other basic automation actions.

This is contained within a visual interface where we can easily see and configure individual tasks at each stage of our workflow.

However, while this is an effective experience for viewing the flow from a top level, configuring individual tasks can be a little bit more counter-intuitive and inflexible.

Pega vs Appian

User experiences in Appian are also largely visual. However, given that it’s more aimed at end-to-end BPM, Appian’s core automation builder is based on more complex process diagrams.

This allows us to easily view and edit the structure of more complex automation rules, including implementing conditional branches or looping logic.

We can edit our process model by dragging and dropping pre-built nodes, including basic data management actions, as well as external app events, defined workflows, or other key elements of your automation rules.

These nodes fall into three categories:

  • Integrations - for triggering external actions.
  • Interfaces - for prompting users to take defined actions.
  • Subprocesses - for calling other process models and defined tasks.



It’s also important to think more deeply about some of the more specific capabilities each platform offers, along with some of the key areas where each one has a competitive edge or falls short.

As we noted earlier, one area where Pega is particularly strong is AI-driven decision-making within workflows. This makes it an attractive option for automating human-centric processes, especially service interactions.

Pega also offers effective tools for automating manual tasks through RPA from directly within the platform. This is an effective way to create complex workflows across multiple platforms and tools.

Another element of Pega’s offering that we’re impressed by is the range of built-in compliance and security tools. For example, we can take advantage of a range of features such as role or client-based access control, data encryption, secure platform integration, and network protection.


Appian also offers extensive AI capabilities, but the standout capabilities here are around end-user application building. For example, we can use AI to create form applications by simply uploading PDFs of relevant documents.

Appian has one of the most impressive offerings in this space in terms of process mining. In particular, we can use the platform to analyze large volumes of existing external platform logs in order to analyze and discover how digital work is performed in the field.

One of Appian’s major selling points is Data Fabric, a set of tools that enables teams to visually create a working enterprise data model.

This is an effective way to build a single source of truth alongside your automated processes, using a graph-based interface to connect and leverage external data sources alongside Appian’s built-in database.


Integration options

Naturally, as automation platforms, both Pega and Appian are strong on integrability.

Natively, Pega supports direct integrations with over 150 external platforms, as well as community-contributed connectors. For instance, there’s a range of productivity, back office, DevOps, VoiP, security, deployment, and other tools.

Pega also offers incredible connectivity for expanding the platform itself. There’s support for Open API Standards, front-end SDKs, and general-purpose adaptors for the likes of Blockchain, OpenAI, Amazon Alexa, and more.

Using Pega Live Data, we can connect to a range of external RDBMSs and NoSQL tools, using a data virtualization layer within our applications and automations - separating our end solutions from the data source itself.

Appian also offers extensive integrability, but pre-built integrations are more limited - although there are a handful of native connectors for tools like Salesforce, Sharepoint, DocuSign, and other common business applications.

We can also connect to external databases to use stored values within our applications and automations, but native connectors are limited to relational tools, such as MySQL, Postgres, MariaDB, and Oracle.

However, Appian offers extensive scope for connecting to external data with custom REST, SOAP, HTTP, and JDBC configurations. So, we can generally achieve a similar result to what we could natively in Pega, but this might require a little more effort to set up.

Interface building

Next, we can check out what each platform offers in terms of building user interfaces.

Pega’s suite of app-builder tools is highly focused on empowering citizen developers. We have the option of starting from scratch, modifying a template, or providing prompts for generative AI to create basic applications.

Our options for creating interfaces are tightly tied to Pega’s concept of micro journeys. So, we can easily create UIs that relate to specific tasks within defined workflows, including forms, approval screens, charts, and other data-focused designs for performing these actions.

We can combine and configure built-in components using Pega App Studio’s drag-and-drop interface, as well as assigning different screens to specific user personas, enabling us to create more complex applications for handling workflows.

Pega also provides a range of tools to streamline cross-platform development, making it easy to ship web apps, mobile tools, and more without requiring extensive technical expertise.


Appian also prioritizes speed by providing a drag-and-drop interface for configuring built-in UI elements. Given that it’s a platform aimed at larger-scale business processes, there’s also a focus on more complex applications such as portals and client-facing sites.

Importantly, Appian targets citizen developers as well as users with more design and development experience. We can achieve highly granular configurations of built-in components and modules - both in terms of design and behavior.

Appian offers impressive flexibility for creating complex layouts within individual screens using the native SAIL Design System. However, some elements of this present a slight learning curve.

For example, certain kinds of interfaces need to be wrapped in a Layout component while others do not.

As noted earlier, Appian also provides some clever functionality to expedite design tasks, such as autogenerating forms from PDF documents.


Management, monitoring, and admin

Lastly, we can examine some of the tools on offer in each platform in terms of lifecycle management.

Pega offers a proprietary cloud platform as well as supporting on-premesis or private cloud deployments. Supported platforms include Docker, AWS, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure - or any on-prem environment with a supported database and Java EE application server.

Role-based access control within Pega is fully customizable. We can create roles and assign them to operators within the Dev Studio platform and then use these to control the exact permissions granted to users within individual applications.

Pega also gives IT teams huge control over the authentication methods used in their organization’s applications - with full support for SAML and OpenID, as well as token-based, credential-based, Kerberos, and custom protocols - alongside native auth.

On top of this, there’s a particularly impressive suite of native DevOps tools, including deployment automation, unit testing, migration management, and more.

Appian is also available as a cloud platform or a self-hosted solution. Appian Cloud is available in 24 regions with 72 availability zones. Self-managed users can install Appian on Windows and Linux systems, as well as containerized deployments such as Kubernetes or Docker.

Like Pega, access control for end-user applications is highly flexible in Appian. This is based on user groups - to distinguish from roles within the platform’s RBAC framework.

We can create custom roles and grant these Viewer or Administrator permissions to individual application objects for highly granular controls.

Appian supports SAML, OpenID, LDAP, and PIEE for external authentication, as well as native auth.

Automation and low-code development with Budibase

Appian and Pega are two of the oldest names in the low-code space - especially for automations. However, this is a market that’s been hugely disrupted over the past decade.

Several new players have come to the fore, offering modern developer experiences and fast, efficient application development.

Budibase is the open-source, low-code platform that empowers IT teams to turn data into action.

With extensive external data support, autogenerated UIs, powerful low-code automations, optional self-hosting, free SSO, and more, there’s never been an easier way to build professional, performant web apps at pace.

Check out our product page to learn more.