CoE Connect - Newsletter February 2023

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Welcome to the second edition of CoE Connect, your monthly newsletter from the Center of Excellence (CoE) Program. In this edition, we aim to continue our mission of keeping you informed and updated on all the latest developments and events within the CoE. With each issue, we will provide you with the latest news, highlight upcoming events, and share stories of CoE leaders and their Anaplan journey. Whether you are a new member of the CoE community or a veteran, we are dedicated to ensuring that you stay connected and informed every step of the way. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy the second edition of CoE Connect!

CoE Spotlight: Our CoE celebrity for February is Jack Chen, the Anaplan CoE Lead for Clorox and a Master Anaplanner! Discover Jack's fascinating journey in the Anaplan ecosystem, from his first experiences to leading the CoE. Learn more in the CoE Spotlight section of our newsletter.

  • Anaplan has been recognized as a leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Financial Planning Software, thanks to its strong financial planning capabilities to manage financial performance in modeling, collaboration, and performance-reporting. Many CoE leaders are leveraging this recognition to build stakeholder confidence and drive better outcomes for their organization.
  • Exciting news — our first CoE Leaders Cohort has been finalized! This exclusive program is designed to support leaders in implementing a Center of Excellence program at their organization. Participants will collaborate with peers, share experiences, and best practices, and learn from each other's challenges and opportunities. Let's congratulate and support these leaders as they embark on this exciting journey. If you are interested in becoming part of a future cohort, please reach out to me at mariam.azeez@anaplan.com.
  • Learn how Hayli Hay, Director Anaplan Forecast & Planning at Autodesk, turns strategic goals into executable plans through effective prioritization.This informative article outlines the importance of effective prioritization in achieving strategic goals and provides practical tips for CoE leaders to implement in their own organizations. The blog post emphasizes that prioritization is not just about ranking tasks in order of importance but rather requires a holistic approach that considers factors such as feasibility, impact, and alignment with overall objectives. 

I had the opportunity to sit down with Jack Chen and learn more about his CoE journey. As the Anaplan CoE Lead for Clorox and a Master Anaplanner, Jack has a wealth of knowledge and experience to share. Join me as we delve into the exciting world of Anaplan and discover how Jack is driving success for his organization.

Mariam: So, let's start by getting to know you. Can you tell us about yourself and your current role?

Jack: Sure! I am currently the Anaplan CoE Lead for Clorox, and I am based in Virginia, in the suburbs of D.C. I joined the company last fall to support the Anaplan implementation and build out the CoE as we plan to expand use cases and life after go-live.

Mariam: That's great. Can you share with us your career path within the Anaplan Ecosystem, from your first experiences to today?

Jack: Of course! I started my career in a consultancy firm that focused on Hyperion Essbase, and then transitioned to Anaplan as it was the next big thing. As a fresh model builder, I had some challenges mixing up SUMs and LOOKUPs and even made the egregious error of combining the two. After leaving the riveting consulting life, I joined a FP&A organization that had just implemented Anaplan for a P&L use case. Here, I focused on what most people would expect from a model builder and solution architect. I eventually got my Master Anaplanner certification, and our team grew to 2 (shout out to Josh). We added new models/use cases, optimized integrations, and introduced NUX to the users. Most recently, I was presented an opportunity to take on a role that combines the technical & strategic aspects of planning. 

Mariam: That's an impressive journey! What are some of the most valuable skills you have learned along the way?

Jack: I think one of the most valuable skills I've learned is to ask questions and absorb information. Although I don’t try to be the expert in everything, I try to have an general understanding of anything my world touches (a jack of all trades – pun intended). My primary job revolves around the Anaplan platform and managing resources there, but it involves so much more than writing calculation logic. Taking a step back, Anaplan deals with functional owners to develop calculation logic, data integration in and out of the platform, security with identity management, general business objectives, and so much more. This then helps paint a holistic picture for the CoE to develop a plan for execution.

Mariam: Can you tell us about your experience leading the Anaplan CoE?

Jack: This is my first official time setting one up! Perhaps my generation’s thorn, but the term imposter syndrome is near and dear to me. When hundreds of users rely on your team to deliver so they can do their jobs, you could feel a little nervous. But I’m excited to step into this role and see our use of Anaplan grow. We have a preliminary CoE charter in the works and it’s been helping us think about the different parts of CoE management. I’m also looking forward to connecting with other CoEs to see how they’re structured & resourced.

Mariam: Interesting thought there - As a CoE leader, how do you manage your talent mix? Do you hire externally or upskill talent from within the organization? What are the benefits of the approach you have taken?

Jack: This is something I’m actively thinking about right now. As I’m sure everyone knows, it’s been a hot market for Anaplan talent, which is great for the talent but harder to manage for the organization. We’re currently leaning towards a combination of external & internal resources to create a balance of sorts. There has been interest internally to learn the tool & upskill – these folks understand the business & can optimize the model for usability. The external resources are prime for recurring process support (where not automated) and one-off projects that require less time to ramp up.

Mariam: that’s a smart approach. Can you tell us a little bit about your role as a CoE Leader and the benefits of having a connection with Anaplan Business Partners and Customer Success?

Jack: The title CoE Leader has some weight to it, and I feel like it comes with an underlying expectation that you know everything about Anaplan. But part of the job, as I’ve come to learn, is engaging the right parties (like our Anaplan partners and internal resources). Previous to this implementation, I’ve had minimal exposure to certificate-based authentication. I was able to engage my customer success partner to connect with experts at Anaplan. It was a bumpy learning experience, but we made it! It’s also great to know that there’s a support system with the know-how & experience of multiple customers.

We hope you enjoyed this edition of the newsletter and look forward to engaging and helping you achieve your Connected Planning vision. If you have any questions or suggestions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at mariam.azeez@anaplan.com.