Pro tips: Troubleshooting calculations
The Anaplan team is always looking for stories of Anaplan in action, seasonal planning tips and tricks, and use case-specific studies on how to best use the product. Recently, Stephen Rituper and I (both from our Operational Excellence Group) sat down with a few top Master Anaplanners to hear from them on their specific pro tips when it comes to troubleshooting calculations.
Together, we came up with a list of techniques and best practices for working out calculations:
- Use Community to research and ask questions and get answers from other builders in the forums. The group considers this one of the best tools when it comes to problem-solving. Crowdsource the solution!
- For specific guidance, visit the appropriate Persona hub to help guide you.
- As well as the best practice articles, be sure to read through the Planual - Anaplan Community and Anapedia - Anaplan Technical Documentation.
- Drill down (both in UX and the modeling view).
- Use drill down to step (backward) through calculation logic to find where a value starts giving an unexpected value, or to see where performance hits might be seen (looking for complexity and functions used).
- Use Excel and paper to step through complex calculation logic.
- Break out and simplify calculation logic in Excel to understand parts of an Anaplan calculation chain.
- Model and simplify logic before building in Anaplan - plan before build!
- Break line items into each component part to step through calculation logic.
- This helps when trying to follow calculation logic, especially with drill down. It shows which part of that original formula gets touched when a value is changed.
- This highlights our best practice advice to split out complexity and shows that a change may only affect one part of a complex formula that would otherwise calculate all parts when in one line item.
- System modules! Reference the PLANS - This is How We Model resource.
- PLANS is the new standard for Anaplan modeling—“the way we model.” This covers more than just the formulas and includes and evolves existing best practices around user experience and data hubs. It is a set of rules on the structure and detailed design of Anaplan models. This provides both a clear route to good model design for the individual Anaplanner and common guidance on which Anaplanners and reviewers can rely when passing models amongst themselves.
- Utilize the Model Optimization Services provided:
- Email [email protected] for a free Model Open Analysis.
- HyperCare customers are eligible for up to 4 free Model Optimization reviews per year, requested through your HyperCare Support Analyst.
- The Model Optimization Success Accelerator can be provided by Anaplan Professional Services, requested through your BP.
- A final tip – get a good text editor! A text editor that highlights selected text repetition is a great tool to deal with complex formulas, either within a single formula or when copying out all formulas in a module (to look for duplication between line items). See it in action here: Expert advice: Formula optimization | Digital CPX 2020 (anaplan.com).
What pro tips would you add to this list? Leave a comment!
Can't recommend more highly getting a Model Open Analysis done. Often we can see where things are likely to be an issue, but a recent one showed where a model was taking a long time to calculate which we didn't think of and that helped to solve the dreaded "model busy" notification!5
Love the tip about breaking down the formula into separate calculations, this can make the error tracing much more digestible then trying to find the mistake in multiple rows of text. The open model analysis is also wildly helpful, you don't often realize the impact that one sub-optimal formula can have on overall model performance.1