Showcasing our CoE Leaders (2022 Runners-Up to the CoE Leader of the Year Award!)

edited January 2023 in Blog


In June at Anaplan Live! we celebrated all the hard work we see every day in the Anaplan Community. Hayli Hay, at Autodesk, won our 2022 Center of Excellence Leader of the Year, and there are two more exceptional people we would like to recognize!

Asslam Umar Ali and Matthieu Marck are our 2022 Center of Excellence Leader of the Year Award runners-up and we are excited to share more about them and their thoughts on running a Center of Excellence.

A bit more about Asslam and Matthieu:

Asslam Profile Aug 22.jpgAsslam Umar Ali has often been pioneering new solutions and best practices for his CoE. Overseeing models across finance, capital and asset management, procurement, and HR, he has established himself as a Connected Planning evangelist who effectively leverages Anaplan to its fullest potential. Asslam is constantly innovating: he continues to mature his CoE to ensure it’s running optimally, piloting new governance structures, honing CoE and model builder checkpoints, and driving a culture of collaboration and cross-enablement. He is working on collecting his CoE’s impact and measuring every great work so far. The most recent accomplishment we’re all excited about is his ESG Anaplan models that continue to push Connected Planning forward. Asslam is also our 2022 Certified Master Anaplanner of the Year!

MatthieuMarck.jpgMatthieu Marck has prioritized building a strong CoE foundation to unlock the ability for swift expansions and proliferation of Anaplan at L’Oreal. He has dedicated his time to creating proper governance, a project qualification process, CoE best practices, an ideal partner strategy, and more. We are excited to watch how Matthieu puts his great work into practice and expands L’Oreal’s Anaplan footprint expanding beyond the current state in supply chain, sales, and finance.

We asked each of them to share with the Anaplan Community the benefits of having a CoE and what they have learned in the process.

What are some of the benefits of having a CoE within an organization?

Asslam: The core benefits of utilizing the Anaplan Connected Planning platform is that it’s a business-users-based and business-led technology with low-code and no-code requirements. To grow the Connected Planning ecosystem across an organization and derive the true potential of connecting people, plans, and data, we require a clearly defined strategy to empower business teams with the right cadence, knowledge sharing, change management, and governance to enable business agility. From my experience of utilizing the platform, what I have witnessed is that as an organization expands on the model’s footprint, business users get mature with their data and functional requirements. Therefore, a CoE provides the podium for a federated business user to step up, upskill, and scale the model faster, based on individual business unit needs. Ultimately, I believe these to be the core three benefits of having a CoE within an organization:

  • Rapid user adoption and scalability.  
  • Enables business agility. 
  • Empowers and creates a pathway for professional career development.

Matthieu: Having a CoE within an organization helps to define for the whole organization a unique methodology to follow in term of project qualification, data assessment, data model enrichment, data administration in the Data Hubs, guidelines (naming, ALM architecture, archiving), project documentation (admin, technical guides, project fact sheet) and thus capitalize easily all assets. 

It is also beneficial to have a CoE that provides projects with starter kit and core technical framework.

What's one piece of advice you would give to someone looking to develop a CoE?

Asslam: A CoE is the connection to the Connected Planning ecosystem. To drive the true capability of the xP&A and to deliver enterprise value and growth, basic foundational artifacts for the CoE should be determined and added as part of the roadmap from the get-go. From my experience, these include establishing the CoE charter, defining the change management protocol, and standardizing your model design approach (arsenal of reusable modules and reporting standards). Finally, creating an innovative internal community to collaborate and share knowledge freely where teammates are not judged and are encouraged to partner to solve business problems with a single source of data. 

While those are the initial essential ingredients, I would add:

  • Be persistent even with your smallest initiatives.
  • Be consistent with your cadence. 
  • Be patient with your growth. 

Matthieu: Define upstream what the objectives of your CoE will be (strategic or operational positioning or other). Clearly define a RACI between what the CoE will do and what the projects will do. According to the size of your organization, it’s also important to integrate the various teams involved around your Anaplan environment (data governance, enterprise architecture, security, integration teams), and do not hesitate to spend time explaining the methodology at the start of projects.

You also must not neglect the animation aspect of the community by organizing webinars, tech talks, etc., to introduce new features from the Anaplan roadmap and to collect project needs.

What are some of the most valuable skills you have learned along your journey to becoming a CoE Leader?

Asslam: As a CoE Leader one would imagine team management skills would be most valuable. However, I would add that self-management would be one of the skills I have mastered in my journey. It is inversely proportional to the productivity of the overall team — the more I manage my calendar in advance and plan my week, helps me to get my strategic work prioritized while still allowing enough time for other tasks. Especially during COVID, we all required some level of self-management to manage our work and family commitments. When working from home you need to know how to avoid distractions to stay productive and still manage family and kids responsibilities.

On the other hand, I am constantly working on delegation. I often find myself getting too involved in various detailed project discussions, where I get technically aligned in solution mode because I find it challenging and interesting. However, setting up standards, change management, and governance as a part of the CoE has helped me in improving delegation with much autonomy and clearly expected outcomes.

Matthieu: One of the most valuable skills learned is the resilience that is required to push the vision that the CoE leader wants to bring out. Also, communicating transparently and setting clear objectives are required skills even if they may go against some of the projects' desiderata. Finally, even though it may seem obvious, you have to trust your team by delegating tasks to them so that they can work on a variety of topics and develop their skills inside and outside of Anaplan. I encourage my team members to take initiative so that they can bring value and innovation.

Please join us in congratulating Asslam and Matthieu on their accomplishments!

Do you have questions about running a Center of Excellence? Leave a comment!