Center of Excellence Series - Master Planning


The flavour for this year is not just about recovery but building strength in your capabilities to achieve the growth with scale you planned for, last year was unexpected, we all had big plans that might not have come to fruition, as many of our capabilities were tested. I’ve set myself the challenge this year to help the community strengthen their CoE capabilities, so I would like to kick-off the financial year with some guidance on where I believe every CoE can strengthen its foundations.

Having complete control of your planning operation is not a superpower but an essential capability all CoE’s must have or look to develop. A CoE needs to understand the components of its planning operation, the what, the when, the who, the how and the whys. Once there is a complete understanding of the operation then we can build our master schedule to keep BAU running smoothly.

A master schedule is the blue-print of your end to end planning process which includes key timings, responsibilities and an operational level of understanding of your analytical capabilities. This helps a CoE to understand at any time what the key BAU deliverables are and what is due to be delivered. This is not the only benefit, the benefits from my experience are endless and include the following:

The benefits:

  • It helps you to define a complete scope of your CoE BAU objectives
  • Sets direction and priorities
  • Everyone is on the same schedule
  • Drives alignments of different business functions
  • Simplifies decision making
  • Plan the time of your CoE on value-add projects versus BAU activities
  • Set goals and objectives, meet deadlines and measure the success of your CoE

Master planning is about making the connection between your models, data and people in an organised fashion. Connected planning is not just about connecting your business functions models, it’s also about living the connected synergy through all BAU operations too.

The best place to start your master planning journey is with a process mapping exercise:

  1. Process Identification and Information Gathering
    1. What are your planning objectives?
      1.      Importing Data
      2.      Data Validation
  •      Planning Cycle Inputs
  1.      Production of Reports & Outputs
  2.      Checking Reports & Outputs
  1. When are your planning objectives delivered?
    1.      When is the data imported?
    2.      When does the data need to be validated by?
  •      When do the planning inputs need to be entered?
  1.      When are the draft reports completed by?
  2.      When are the reports ready for reporting?
  1. Who is responsible?
    1.      Who are the data owners?
    2.      Who are the data validators?
  •      Who contributes to the planning inputs?
  1.      Who compiles the draft reports and checks?
  2.      Who sends the reports?
  1. How are the planning objectives delivered?
    1.      How do we import data?
    2.      How do we validate data?
  •      How do we input our drivers?
  1.      How are reports produced?

Now you’ve completed task one you should have a solid foundation and understanding to be able to create a master schedule.


  1. Process Mapping and Analysis
    1. Convert the process analysis into a map / flow chart
    2. Build a planning schedule – The master schedule
      1.      List down all your activities for the planning cycle
      2.      Assign owners for each process
  •      Assign priorities and identify activities that have preceding activities
  1.      Identify the pain points you want to optimize / improve
  1. Challenge the map and schedule
    1.      What-why?
    2.      When-why?
  •      Who-why?
  1.      How-why?
  1. Identify the weaknesses
  2. Create a plan to optimize weaknesses

Continuous improvement is key to all CoEs and challenging the schedule by asking why will help you to identify weaknesses. Once you have a list of all your weaknesses then you’ll be able to identify the pain points you can work on improving.

You must build this CoE master schedule plan in Anaplan, using excel would be 2 steps backwards of course!                                                                                                                     

Now you’ve created your master schedule all things should be in order and you can spend your time delivering value through new projects instead of getting held back by BAU operations.