CoE Connect - Newsletter May 2023


Welcome to CoE Connect, your monthly destination for news and insights from the Center of Excellence Program! We hope this newsletter proves both informative and inspiring, and we always welcome your thoughts and ideas for future editions. Thank you for being an integral part of the CoE community—let's stay connected and grow together!

CoE Spotlight: Explore the captivating journey of the Center of Excellence (CoE) at Groupon, led by Dragana Kangrga. In this special edition, we're enhancing the experience by not only spotlighting Dragana but also diving deep into Groupon's remarkable transformation.

We're thrilled to provide an update on the CoE Leader of the Year Award nominations! We have received an impressive list of nominations, showcasing the outstanding achievements of CoE leaders within the Anaplan ecosystem. Stay tuned for the results in next month’s newsletter as we continue to recognize and celebrate the exemplary dedication and hard work of our CoE community members. Good luck to all exceptional leaders!

The Anaplan Community Experience (ACE) is back and in person in San Diego June 5-7! ACE will be joining together with Anaplan Connect in San Diego, to offer an incredible experience for Anaplan community members and users. Featuring inspiring keynotes and multiple breakout sessions focused on Your Anaplan Journey, a deeper look into Modeling & Data Management, networking sessions with Anaplan experts and fellow Community members, plus a special session on launching a successful CoELearn more here. I am looking forward to meeting many of you in-person at the event!

In a recent interview, I had the privilege of exploring Groupon's Anaplan CoE with Dragana Kangrga, the Senior Finance Manager and Anaplan CoE leader at Groupon. Dragana shared valuable insights on the Groupon CoE team's structure and their innovative approach to hiring and onboarding talent. Join us as we delve into Dragana's experiences and draw valuable insights from her success in leading Groupon's CoE team.

Mariam: Can you walk us through the inception of Groupon's Anaplan CoE journey and how it has evolved over time?

Dragana: The Anaplan CoE journey at Groupon started with a group of individuals from various functional areas, each managing their own specific Anaplan use cases. Over time, a natural progression occurred, resulting in one person emerging as the expert in the model and taking on the role of CoE leader. As the number of use cases expanded, more skilled model builders joined the team. Presently, Groupon's CoE team comprises three model builders, with me as the CoE leader and solution architect.

Mariam: Can you share the background of the talent in Groupon's CoE team? Do they come from a technical or business background, or is it a mix of both?

Dragana: The primary use case for Groupon covers financial reporting and planning, incentive compensation management, as well as support for tax and consolidations. The CoE team at Groupon is composed of individuals with a background in financial planning and analysis (FP&A) and a strong technical aptitude, including prior experience in digital transformation.

Mariam: How does the CoE team ensure self-sufficiency and flexibility when it comes to building and maintaining models?

Dragana: As our use cases expanded, we adopted a structure with three versatile model builders who take on multiple roles without being restricted to specific positions like UX designer or Model Builder. This approach enables the CoE team to be fully self-sufficient and capable of building and maintaining models in-house. For more complex use cases, we collaborate with external consultants to ensure success.

Mariam: Can you share your approach to hiring and onboarding talent in the CoE team?

Dragana: During 2018 and 2019, we faced challenges in finding candidates with Anaplan model-building experience. As a result, we opted to hire individuals with a finance background and a natural affinity for systems, training them to become model builders. When hiring talent, we prioritize "transformation experience" which encompasses IT, FP&A, data integration, and planning model or forecasting tool development. The ideal candidates have exposure to these areas and demonstrate enthusiasm for working within them. To facilitate the development of Anaplan model-building skills, we have designed an onboarding program for new recruits. This training process is also utilized for individuals from various functional areas within Groupon who express interest in Anaplan model building.

Mariam: Can you provide an overview of the talent onboarding program schedule and the learning outcomes?


Mariam: Can you please walk us through Groupon's project prioritization, workload management, and project intake process?

Dragana: Groupon's project prioritization, workload management, and project intake process involve several key steps. The CoE team conducts quarterly meetings with directors and other leadership stakeholders to discuss the roadmap and gather input. A long-term roadmap is established through leadership buy-in and communicated during these meetings. The CoE team evaluates each project's impact (value-add) and readiness (well-defined requirements), prioritizing them accordingly. Short-term bug fixes, enhancements, and projects can be submitted via email, and the CoE team promptly assesses these and provides feedback. Forecasted workload is considered when determining project priorities and their respective timelines, while strict governance principles are applied to all projects. Projects are considered for implementation only if they originate from director-level or higher, ensuring successful execution. Leadership involvement in the project intake process guarantees that the project is a priority for the entire team, necessary resources are allocated, and subject matter experts are available to contribute their expertise.

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