CoE Connect - Newsletter June 2023


Welcome to the June edition of CoE Connect, your monthly destination for news and insights from the Center of Excellence Program! We aim for this newsletter to enlighten and motivate, and we're always eager to hear your feedback or suggestions for what's to come. We're grateful to have you as an essential member of our CoE community—let's keep fostering our bond and advancing together!

CoE Spotlight: Introducing Will Lederer, Product Director at Okta, an Anaplan Solutions Architect, and leader of the Center of Excellence. He has worked in the planning software space for over 20 years, with more than 10 years of experience using Anaplan. He has been involved with Anaplan as both a customer and consultant, and has been a part of numerous implementations, re-implementations, integrations, enhancements, and more! Will says, "At heart, I’m still a developer and like nothing more than diving into a model to solve a problem!" Don't miss this inspiring story, as it offers valuable insights into building a successful CoE and leveraging Anaplan's capabilities.

  • Exciting News from the Anaplan Community! Join us in celebrating the extraordinary achievement of Anne-Charlotte Vidal, Head of Anaplan Center of Excellence at Moët Hennessy, our winner for the 2023 Center of Excellence Leader of the Year award! This is one of the most prestigious awards in the Anaplan talent ecosystem, and it celebrates the outstanding accomplishments and dedication of our top Anaplan professionals. We are proud to acknowledge that Anne-Charlotte stood out among the best of the best in a highly competitive process, showcasing her exceptional abilities and unwavering dedication. To learn more about Anne-Charlotte's Anaplan Journey click here
  • In June 2023, ACE (Anaplan Community Experience) brought together our diverse Anaplan community for an energizing three-day event in San Diego. In partnership with Anaplan Connect, there were engaging keynotes, insightful breakout sessions, and many networking opportunities - and guess what? ACE breakout sessions are now accessible for you to view. To access the recordings click here

In this engaging interview, we had the privilege of delving into the inspiring journey of Will Lederer, a seasoned Anaplan CoE Lead at Okta. He shared candid insights into Okta's Anaplan journey, how the need for a Centre of Excellence (CoE) came into being, and the key steps taken to evolve it over time.

Mariam: Tell us about yourself? Your current role - where you are based.

Will:I am Business Technology Product Director at Okta. I am based in Maryland, US.

Mariam: You've been on quite a journey with Anaplan. Could you share some insights on how Okta started their Anaplan journey?

Will: Absolutely! Okta's journey began back in 2012 with around 40-50 FP&A users. Initially, the use case was typical budgeting and forecasting for monthly and quarterly close. We manually updated actual balance sheets, income statements, headcounts, and revenue. Sales Ops capacity planning was later added to support GTM directly. But the major use cases were in financials and workforce and expense planning.

Mariam: Interesting. How has Anaplan evolved at Okta since then?

Will: As Okta grew and went public, reporting requirements became more "demanding." We transitioned towards automation and integration, eliminating many manual processes and syncing with upstream data sources, particularly regarding workforce. We expanded the hub data model and added use cases, including GTM planning, revenue planning, budget planning, and consolidation models for reporting. Our models now conform to Anaplan best practices, all interconnected and aligning with the data source. We experienced tremendous growth during the pandemic, and with the Auth0 acquisition, we added 40% to our company and more than doubled our FP&A team to around 1000 licenses.

Mariam: That's quite an expansion! At what point did Okta realize the need for a CoE and how was it established?

Will: At first, we had two model builders maintaining the current model and transitioning to the 2.0 version. We partnered with Anaplan Professional Services and third-party partners for the build. During the implementation phase, I joined as a Solutions Architect, and we realized the need for a CoE to ensure we consistently hit the mark every period while adapting to business changes. This was the beginning of moving from development and implementation to operations.

Mariam: And how has the CoE evolved at Okta since its establishment?

Will: When I joined, we were a team of three. We frequently met to manage production fixes, requests for enhancements, and gaps in original use cases. We added Anaplan Professional Services for net new builds and established a liaison position within FP&A. This liaison is also a model builder, does much of the provisioning and administration, and is part of our core CoE. We also added a Solution Architect and another model builder to match our CoE capacity with the demand.

Mariam: Could you tell us a bit about how you enable end-users and manage adoption?

Will: Depending on the enhancement, we work directly with the requestor or the liaison. The user requirements are discovered, the solution is decided, we peer review the solution then test in a sandbox ,conduct UAT and launch it. We use a 'Train the trainer' approach, we go over it with the appropriate business person which in our case is mostly someone from FP&A team, who then communicates it to the whole group.

Mariam: Your CoE seems to have a big focus on scalability. How do you manage this?

Will: Anticipating business requirements is key. With the Auth0 acquisition, we had to rapidly scale. We moved heavy utilization to Hypermodels and Hypercare. One of the challenges is balancing business and IT priorities, but we align on tech or finance priorities and implement enhancements that add the most value.

Mariam: What do you consider as the biggest strength of your CoE?

Will: I'd say our biggest strength is our team. Communication, trust, and partnership are crucial in what we do.

Mariam: How has the fact that your CoE reports to IT helped your CoE?

Will: We're quicker to adopt new features of Anaplan, establish procedures, and maintain rigor in development, testing, and implementation. It also helps in things like documentation that finance is not necessarily focused on.

Mariam: Lastly, what advice would you give other CoE leaders?

Will: Take advantage of Anaplan community resources. Engage with your partners in every way, by owning the delivery of Anaplan to the business.

You can watch the full video interview here.

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