Tech Talk with OEG: Performance triangle key takeaways from customers
The Anaplan Performance Triangle details the relationship between the number of users and the level of complexity in an Anaplan model to the performance of an Anaplan model, as explained by Mark Warren, Operational Excellence Group Platform Specialist in this article. The Performance Triangle considers:
- How many end-users are in the model and encourages concurrency testing and consideration of blocking actions that occur in the model (Planual 5.01-03).
- Model complexity, from the overall design to the actual line-item level and use of blocking actions.
- Performance and alignment with Planual best practices.
In a recent roundtable discussion with a small group of customer Certified Master Anaplanners, we discussed the Anaplan Performance Triangle and it became clear there are additional key external factors that impact each angle of the performance triangle that cannot be ignored.
Leadership support is a critical requirement to support the definition and alignment of the planning process
The Anaplan platform is dynamic, flexible, and creates connectivity and collaboration between teams and business units executing a business process. Model architecture should be built to be capable of adapting to business changes over time and process inefficiencies should be corrected prior to the model development. All Certified Master Anaplanners on the call agreed that leadership’s support and involvement in defining the vision and cohesive business process during an Anaplan implementation is required to achieve buy-in and positive change management across business units for an optimized business process supported on Anaplan.
When there is a lack of leadership involvement in the definition of the business process, there is also a risk of implementing a fragmented, inefficient, overly-complex model that may have an increased requirement for otherwise avoidable time-spend on maintenance and a potentially decreased end-user experience that carries forward pre-existing business process pain points.
Those implementing an Anaplan model must understand and push for business unit alignment with leadership support, traverse the performance triangle as they develop the architecture of the model, and ensure the business process has an optimized, sturdy foundation. Certified Master Anaplanner, @Prince.Ayinde, reflected in his statement, “Process alignment enables the solutions implementation teams to create a framework of tradeoffs. This framework empowers business leaders to make strategic decisions with a clear understanding of the business process optimization journey.”
Be open to change
On every new Anaplan project, investigate what the current process is and ask the following questions: what they like, what do they not like, what do they use, what do they not use. Write it down on one board, and on another board ask — ideally and without any limitations — what they want Anaplan to do and how they want the process to work in the future with an improved process. This helps everyone understand the requirements but also approach the possibilities of how the process could work in the future with open minds that are willing to adopt changes to the historical process.
The benefit of an Anaplan implementation is more than just implementation of a powerful tool, it is an opportunity to improve your overall process.
“We have leveraged our successes from initial Anaplan deployments to encourage other business areas to embrace the opportunity for transformation. The flexibility of the platform has allowed us to add an enterprise framework to risk-prone processes, while making our existing staff more effective with limited training needed," notes Certified Master Anaplanner, @josh.baker, as he recounted the benefits of transforming business processes with reduced risk through implemented Anaplan solutions.
Don’t boil the ocean
The term “boiling the ocean” in terms of a transformation project refers to making the scope so large that it becomes unmanageable or unnecessarily large or complex. Although it may sound counterintuitive, Anaplan works best when you split out models, modules, line items, and logic. When this approach is taken, you utilize the multi-threading capability of Anaplan’s calculation engine which results in performance increases and less concurrency. You also have an opportunity to limit or prevent the likelihood of end users executing blocking actions that could detract from the overall end user experience with the ability to add only the necessary users to the models that truly need access. This limits the size of the model's user list thereby reducing the size of any line items dimensioned by the user list. The result is successfully being able to avoid creating a complex model with a high propensity for blocking actions executed by end-users that deters a positive end-user experience.
By rebuilding one giant model that originally supported multiple use cases into multiple models to avoid “boiling the ocean” within one large, inefficient model, one Certified Master Anaplanner highlighted how they were able to resolve performance issues and create a more seamless and positive end-user experience. Certified Master Anaplanner, @andrewtye, highlighted the value gained for his organization as he explained, "by splitting a high complex model into two, it meant that end users no longer see the “Model is Busy” error message and with our [UX] apps, most end users don’t even know they’re using two models just running a couple of extra processes".
Assuming proper security is set up, end users are not impacted by separated models supporting their experience when they access Anaplan pages in the UX, so separating use cases or large processes into multiple models has little to no impact on end user experience if the models are built to support consistent naming conventions, lists are synced, and security is managed appropriately.
The Anaplan Performance Triangle highlights that model performance is a balance of complexity and user concurrency, and reducing either of these can improve it. What we learned in our roundtable discussion with Certified Master Anaplanners is that strong leadership support, starting with a clean, well-aligned process, and creating logical separations in model architecture to avoid "boiling the ocean" are key factors capable of having a significant impact to the three angles of the performance triangle: complexity, user concurrency, and model performance.
Was a great conversation to be part of!1
Many thanks @StaceyBrooks for sharing these takeaways about the Anaplan Performance Triangle!1
Some great takeaways and comments. I heard similar in another session, it really emphasizes the need to get good buy in at exec and business leader levels to make that conversation easier. The need to consider the performance triangle early is clear and will lead to better and more scalable Anaplan ecosystem; this type of thinking goes beyond the model and must incorporate and balance a lot of demanding factors to reach the goal of well performing models that exceed users expectations.
Another key takeaway was the need for fast and robust training to scale up the available Anaplan workforce. We need more Anaplanners, lots more talented model builders to help achieve this. One final takeaway is that it's very hard to change a complex model after it is built and in use. It is difficult to pick apart a model, especially when it has been built by different model builders. One comment I recall is "I'd rather have a badly performing model with consistent logic than an okay model with vastly differing logic", meaning that if its consistent it's much easier to follow and fix, but if everyone developed in different ways its harder to understand and fix. This is why the PLANS methodology is important, a key aspect of that is aimed at maintainability...1
Fantastic feedback @MarkWarren! Thanks for sharing those takeaways as well! The point on consistency is certainly a good one and definitely supports why resources such as the PLANS methodology is so important!0