CoE Connect - Newsletter March 2023
Welcome to the third edition of CoE Connect, your monthly source of updates and insights from the Center of Excellence Program!
As we move into the spring season, we are excited to share with you the latest developments and highlights from the Anaplan CoE community. We hope you find this newsletter informative and engaging, and as always, we welcome your feedback and suggestions for future editions. Thank you for being part of the CoE community, and let's stay connected!
CoE Spotlight: Our CoE celebrity for March is Miroslav Vida, the Anaplan CoE Lead for Adobe. Join us as we explore Miroslav's journey in the Anaplan ecosystem and how he is leveraging the power of Anaplan to create value for his organization.
- Update on the CoE Peer-to-Peer Learning Program: As mentioned in last month's newsletter, we have launched an exclusive peer-based program to support leaders in implementing a CoE at their organization. The first virtual session for this program was held last week with a small group of CoE leaders from around the world. In this session, participants shared their experiences and best practices and learned from each other. Based on the feedback from the participants, the remaining four sessions of the program will focus on key areas, including hiring, retaining, and upskilling talent and managing stakeholders by effectively selling the value of Anaplan through storytelling. I will continue to update the broader CoE leader community on the outcomes of these sessions through this newsletter. Please note that this program is only open to Anaplan customers. If you are interested in becoming part of a future cohort, please get in touch with me at [email protected].
- Learn how CoEs can help organizations build sustainable and scalable Anaplan capabilities in the whitepaper Anaplan Centers of Excellence: Empowering the Next Generation of Business Transformation by Deloitte. The paper outlines an approach to building a successful Anaplan CoE, including defining the scope, building the team, and establishing governance and processes. The whitepaper is a valuable resource for organizations looking to maximize the potential of Anaplan and drive business transformation.
- Looking for some personalized support on your CoE journey? Consider having a Certified Master Anaplanner as your mentor. To get started, select the topics you'd like to focus on and send me an email expressing your interest. Space in this program is limited, and spots are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. Don't miss out on this incredible opportunity to take your CoE journey to the next level with the help of our experienced and knowledgeable mentors!
During a recent interview, I had the opportunity to learn more about the journey of Miroslav Vida as an Anaplan CoE Lead at Adobe. With his extensive background in finance, Miroslav provided valuable insights on how Anaplan can transform business processes. Miroslav talked about the importance of storytelling, a strong sense of purpose and mission, as well as the virtues of patience and persistence in achieving success. Continue reading as we delve deeper into Miroslav's experience and learn from his successes.
Mariam: Let's start by getting to know you! Tell us about yourself and your current role.
Miroslav: I’m a Director in Adobe’s Finance organization, and I lead our Anaplan CoE and Connected Planning initiatives around our finance, workforce, and marketing use cases. I and most of my team are based in San Jose, CA.
Mariam: That's great. Tell us a bit more about Anaplan CoE at Adobe?
Miroslav: We’re currently nine models deep, spanning worldwide headcount planning, expense planning, variable marketing planning, and profitability analysis from various perspectives. We’re a full-service shop across the entire product lifecycle: process design, development, testing, rollout, adoption, etc.
I fell into this opportunity shortly after Adobe’s first Anaplan implementation when the need for dedicated internal support in this area became clear. Many people come to Anaplan through a technical path, but my background prior to this role was in finance-related roles at Adobe and a variety of other companies — closer to the customer than the developer perspective. This background set the tone for what continues to be core to our team’s DNA to this day: we take a deeply process-first perspective to everything we do, and we play an active role alongside our customers in defining the strategic vision for connected business planning (not just financial planning). We’re very mission-driven and push the pace on expansion into new areas. In addition to attracting and retaining a great team, the most important thing I do is to ensure we adequately answer the questions of “what should we do?” and “why should we do it?” from strategic to operational levels, in collaborative alignment with our customers. What I enjoy about this job is how it refreshes and reinvents itself when we push the boundaries of execution and unlock new opportunities to pursue.
Mariam: What an incredible story! Share with us your career path within the Anaplan ecosystem from first experience to today.
Miroslav: I was first introduced to Anaplan in my prior role at Adobe in Corporate FP&A. The finance org conducted a rushed implementation of Anaplan to replace our aging headcount planning tool, and it went very badly. Hopes were quickly dashed, and the entire community’s goodwill was lost right out of the gate. This was the backdrop when I changed roles and founded the CoE to turn things around. We were far from a quick success story! We spent a chunk of time early on lost in the woods, figuring out what to do, then putting our heads down and grinding it out in relative obscurity to get to a better place. It took a lot of work, re-implementation, and evolution within the team to do it, but over time we got there.
Today, we have a lot of wind in our sails, and things are quite interesting. We have a strong team, a robust workforce planning model tightly integrated with Workday, and many established and emerging use cases: marketers in Anaplan, Corp FP&A rolling up the company P&L in Anaplan, our HR Rewards team coming online with us for equity planning, pilots coming for position prioritization for recruiting, and early stages of cloud spend modeling. Modern UX and Management Reporting have been terrific additions that have further opened doors of possibility, which we’re aggressively pursuing. Looking back, our path has a lot to say about the value of sheer patience and persistence.
Mariam: Can you share with us some of the most valuable skills you have learned along that journey?
Miroslav: I’ve learned a lot technically about Anaplan and various things relating to project management. I’ve developed a strong respect for the importance of a streamlined process that doesn’t try to be all things to all people; it leaves no one satisfied, including those who may have asked for it. More recently in our journey, I’ve learned more about frameworks and approaches to ensure our products and internal processes scale really well so that technical debt doesn’t overwhelm us. Beyond this, I’ve learned a lot about storytelling: how important it is to frame things in the right way for impact, given a good understanding of your audience and what’s important to them. Talk of Connected Planning can come across as very idealistic and unrealistic to certain people, so it’s important to balance the boldness of vision with the practicality of good next steps and demonstrable results.
As I said earlier, I’ve also learned a lot about patience, persistence, and what drives me to keep going. There were many times when I questioned if things could get better and if I should continue with this, but then something fell into place, and the next hopeful opportunity came into view. I’ve also learned how important a clear purpose and mission is to the motivation of yourself and a team, as well as how important it is to allow people to self-select into that – those are the people you can really grow something with. Finally, I’ve also learned that while there is a lot of noise and detail around any given issue or project, the most important things that will define your success resonate at simple, intuitive levels. It’s important to trust those in your actions and words; that’s how you won’t lose the forest for the trees.
Mariam: As a CoE Leader, in your opinion, what are some of the benefits of having a CoE within an organization?
Miroslav: I think a dedicated internal team provides crucial benefits in a company’s ability to pursue and scale a Connected Planning vision. While there is a lot in terms of common best practices theory about Connected Planning, the reality is that the journey will take many nuanced shapes and forms within a large and complex organization. What worked well in one company may not work at that time in another as so many circumstances — existing process maturity, other systems, customer readiness, key leadership sentiment — may differ. This means you may have to be opportunistic and agile in terms of where and how you allocate your investment and build goodwill along the way. Continued post-rollout adjustment of approach to ensure sustained adoption is another factor. Finally, there is the increasing cost and focus on scaling your footprint as it grows with efficient standards and governance. All of this becomes hard to sustainably do without an internal team of experts who have real skin in the game and are well-connected to their customers. Outside help is great in specific scenarios, but it’s not going to be there to sustain and grow things over the long term.
Mariam: Do you need to be an Anaplan technical expert to be a CoE leader?
Miroslav: In short, no — but you do need to know enough. You don’t need to have been a developer or Master Anaplanner, etc., but a good working knowledge of the platform is important. Even though I don’t build the models, I’ve done enough of the background training and experience gathering to be able to strategize well in Anaplan terms: what’s possible, what likely will or won’t be a good experience, and what some options are that we might pursue to make something happen. This helps not only in relating customer stories to actionable plans, but also to ensure sufficient closeness of understanding with the team. It’s useful and fun to be able to whiteboard and strategize with my team at the operational level. I think it’s also important from a morale perspective that the leader has a good understanding of the “what” and “how” of his teams real work — and that the team knows and feels the alignment as well. That said, there are other skills and areas of knowledge more uniquely critical to the CoE lead, along the lines of what is spelled out in the Anaplan Way: strong planning frameworks, project management principles, rigorous internal processes… In addition to soft skills and story-telling with stakeholder management, as well as the classic managerial skills involved in attracting, retaining, and growing a high-performing team.
Mariam: As a CoE leader, how do you prioritize between new projects, enhancements, and bug fixes?
Miroslav: Allocating our bandwidth across competing needs is a perpetual challenge. We certainly have more asks and opportunities than we can satisfy at any given time. We’ve been on been on a continuous journey to grow our approach from one that is reactive to one that is more strategic and purposeful. The most important thing we try to work into our frameworks and interactions is transparency. We keep track of our active work and backlog, both big and small, so that we can assess trends over time. We meet regularly with an Advisory Council representing our customers to gather their feedback, share our work picture with them, and align expectations on what the order of approach is and why. If you develop enough transparency and goodwill with your customers around ongoing progress, they will generally be understanding of where things are and cooperative on the things still to come. Bugs will of course depend on their relative severity and impact. We do, however, separate out bandwidth for two to three key initiatives that we align on at executive levels as strategically important and will defend those at all costs. We’ve recently begun supplementing our team with offshore development firepower for our backlog, and we’ll explore more augmentation for our larger initiatives as needed.
Mariam: In your opinion, what is the value of being an active member of the Anaplan Community/ecosystem?
Miroslav: Honestly, I will admit that I’ve done a poor job of being an active member, which is surely to my disadvantage. I will take this opportunity to better engage!
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 [email protected].