CoE Connect - Newsletter August 2023


Welcome to the August edition of CoE Connect, your monthly destination for news and insights from the Center of Excellence Program! We aim for this newsletter to both inform and motivate, and we're always eager to hear your feedback or suggestions for what's to come. Thank you for being an essential member of our CoE community — let's continue to grow and help out our fellow CoE Leaders!

CoE Spotlight: Introducing Rachel Larue, Anaplan Solutions Architect at Dexcom and a leader of their Center of Excellence. Read more about Rachel's career journey in the CoE Spotlight section of this newsletter.

  • Interested in learning more about sustainability? Mark your calendar for a virtual event on Sustainability Planning: An Exploration of Use Cases on August 29. There is growing demand for companies to operate more sustainably, and it is important for all professionals to be familiar with what sustainability means as ideally, sustainability is a key part of all business functions and decision making. Building off the Anaplan Community ESG Group’s first session, we will explore a set of potential Sustainable Planning Use Cases that may or may not be implemented in Anaplan. This will serve as an open forum to brainstorm key logistical elements, functionality, and challenges to each, taking a first step into what the use cases could look like. Learn more and RSVP here.
  • Certified Master Anaplanner and CoE Leader Philipp Erkinger shares his lessons learned from implementing Polaris as one of the early-adopting customers. Read Philipp's article here.

We recently had the chance to chat with Rachel Larue, an Anaplan Center of Excellence (CoE) Lead. As a CoE leader, Rachel ensures optimal use of Anaplan's ecosystem, facilitating the Connected Planning vision through deep knowledge and strategic partnerships. Read more about Rachel's experiences and achievements below!

Q: Hi Rachel! Please introduce yourself, your current role, and where you're based!

Rachel: Hello! I’ve recently transitioned into a new role with the San Diego-based medical device manufacturer, Dexcom. I’m fully remote in the Denver area, functioning heavily as a Solution Architect for this stretch of our roadmap, and I will assist through deployment to build out/reinforce our new CoE. I’m enjoying leaning back into the technical side of things, but also appreciate the balance of strategic thinking when I’m wearing my CoE Leader hat.

Q: Can you share more about your career path and how you became the CoE leader/part of the CoE team?

Rachel: To step back and speak to my Anaplan career more broadly, I became a model builder in late 2018 when I joined DaVita’s CoE. There I grew steadily through a Sr. Builder Role, then Solution Architect + co-lead of our CoE. As I progressed through my builder path, with no formal project managers I filled more of that role project to project. I managed my personal portfolio and stakeholders, and with a proven track record there the transition into SA/CoE Lead was a much smaller gap to bridge. I think leaning into the micro-level project and stakeholder management is the best way to test the waters as a builder, and highly recommend leveraging this in your organization if possible.

Q: In your opinion, what are some of the benefits of having a CoE within an organization?

Rachel: If you have ANY use case growth on your roadmap, not simply live model maintenance, you’re going to need SOME form of CoE. No two are the same, but a CoE communicates a single source of truth for all things Anaplan in your organization. End users, super users, model owners, internal AND Anaplan help desk support will all have a default contact for any issues or inquiries. Even if you plan to have a heavily federated (de-centralized) builder team, you want at least one CENTRAL technical expert to advise and mentor other builders.

To put all of that more simply, some of the main benefits are a Central Authority for overseeing projects, builders, documentation and best practices—as well as talent sourcing. Allowing all to be federated, you will start to have models and documents that vary too much for an end user to easily navigate in any universal way throughout your Anaplan ecosystem—and your builders won’t have it easy, either.

Q: How do you manage your talent mix as a CoE leader? Do you hire externally or up-skill talent from within the organization? What are the benefits of your approach?

Rachel: This is a hot and ever-evolving topic even in the last few years. My tenure has mostly included up-skilling talent from inside the org, or identifying external candidates that may take to Anaplan well. Both have meant little to no Anaplan expertise coming in, but I’ve seen math and engineering backgrounds jump to advanced building methods in less than nine months. I think this decision should be driven most by your CoE structure and strategy, as well as your roadmap. I’d recommend a start date 3-6 months ahead of any project you want to staff a builder on heavily, and use those months for the Jr. Builder to support standard maintenance and simpler bug fixes, plus shadowing your other builders. Anaplan experience requires much less lead time, but consider the breadth of your use cases and how niche your organization is, and be sure to pad the start date accordingly. The main benefit of training internally is customizing training content and being able to show live examples that relate to the universal Anaplan training. Additionally, you’re getting to set expectations for how your CoE functions and utilizes different roles — which can very greatly across organizations as mentioned above. No two CoEs are the same, right?

Q: What are some of the benefits of having a connection with Anaplan Business Partners and Customer Success as a CoE leader?

Rachel: Your Anaplan team are your eyes and ears on the inside. CoE Leaders should leverage their time to hear about upcoming releases before they’re posted on community, especially those 6+ months out. Additionally, this is a great place to share anything getting you stuck — technical or business. I’ve had great experiences voicing my challenges, and getting partnered with another customer will to network and help me through it, or an internal Anaplan employee to advise me and get us past our technical limitations. Never hesitate to leverage this relationship to keep your CoE going —or even to get some extra thought partners around how to just get started.

Q: What resources within the Anaplan Community do you find most valuable as a CoE leader?

Rachel: The User Groups are the best asset I have come across. Some have hosted free-form or scripted live video forums, or even local meetups. These have allowed me to find common ground with other community members, and have given me much wider insight to how and where Anaplan is being used today. I think the community is a place to share ideas and roadblocks, and challenge ourselves to consider new puzzles or new solutions to our previous problems, and feed it all back into the community. With a small talent pool, we only benefit when knowledge is shared more widely.

Thank you Rachel, for sharing your CoE journey with us! Rachel was also profiled in a Community blog video interview last year — check it out!

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 leave a comment.