CoE Connect - Newsletter October 2023
Welcome to the October edition of CoE Connect, where you'll find the latest news and insights from the Center of Excellence Program! We hope you'll find this informative and helpful, and we're always eager to hear your feedback or suggestions. Thank you for being an essential member of our CoE community — let's continue to grow and help out our fellow CoE Leaders!
- Check out two recent articles authored by CoE Leaders:
- Kevin Cho, Certified Master Anaplanner and CoE team lead at Atlassian, share his tips and best practices for managing a distributed Center of Excellence.
- With Anaplan, it is easy to run multiple scenarios within the same model by using optionality. Sandi Duffy, Certified Master Anaplanner and Finance Manager at Challenger Unlimited, shares how to vary model inputs using optionality.
- Have you seen the most recent videos in our ‘How I Built It’ series?
- How I Built It: User-friendly hierarchy management
- How I Built It: Solving world’s hardest Sudoku with Anaplan Optimizer
- How I Built It: Dynamic month, quarter, and year filter
- Plus two more coming in the next two weeks! One on creating an easy approval process and audit trail, and another on combining multiple payment schedules for a custom cash flow schedule module.
- How I Built It: User-friendly hierarchy management
This month's spotlight interview features Kyle Sakowski (@sakowski27), from Everest Global. Below, Kyle shares more about his career path, how having a Center of Excellence impacts an organization, how he prioritizes projects, and more!
Q: Hi Kyle — tell us about yourself!
Kyle: For the past two years, I have held the position of Director at the Anaplan Center of Excellence within Everest Global, a prominent player in the insurance and reinsurance sector. My work is primarily conducted in a fully remote capacity from the Tampa, Florida region. In this role, my responsibilities encompass strengthening our CoE's capabilities, spearheading integration initiatives to support the ongoing global expansion of our Anaplan practice, and serving as the Solution Architect for our internal project implementations.
Q: Can you share more about your career path within the Anaplan Ecosystem from first experiences to today?
Kyle: My journey with Anaplan commenced immediately after graduating from college, where I was introduced to the platform as one of my first software experiences. Following several weeks of intensive training and collaboration with our implementation partners (a special acknowledgment to Peloton Consulting Group), I achieved certification as a model builder. The problem solving and creative aspects of Anaplan model building deeply captivated my interest, prompting me to pursue advanced training. Remarkably, I attained the status of a Certified Master Anaplanner within just the initial year and a half of my introduction to Anaplan.
Over the past four to five years, I have consistently maintained my status as a Master Anaplanner and actively contributed to more than 20 successful implementations. I remain committed to furthering my expertise and am resolute in my dedication to advancing the Anaplan platform.
Q: What are some of the most valuable skills you have learned along that journey?
Kyle: Effective communication and collaboration are pivotal components of success. My experience as a customer utilizing Anaplan has underscored the importance of ongoing discussions about project requirements as the most efficient means to achieve successful outcomes. Engaging stakeholders consistently enables the identification of existing process pain points, fostering the opportunity to implement Anaplan best practices seamlessly throughout each project's timeline.
Q: As a CoE Leader, in your opinion, what are some of the benefits to having a CoE within an organization?
Kyle: Some key benefits to having a CoE within any organization are:
- Expertise and knowledge sharing: A CoE can provide guidance, training, and support to other users across the organization, ensuring that Anaplan is used effectively.
- Consistency and standardization: The CoE can establish standardized processes and best practices for building models, creating reports, and conducting analyses in Anaplan.
- Governance and control: CoE's play a crucial role in governance by defining access controls, data security measures, and data integration standards.
- Performance monitoring: A CoE helps identify bottlenecks, optimizes calculations, and ensures that models run efficiently.
In summary, a CoE can provide substantial benefits by fostering expertise, consistency, governance, scalability, innovation, and more. It plays a pivotal role in ensuring that Anaplan is an asset for the organization, driving better planning, analysis, and decision-making processes.
Q: As a CoE leader how do you prioritize between new projects, enhancements, and bug fixes?
Kyle: As the leader of the Center of Excellence (CoE), I have implemented a structured communication framework, encompassing both weekly and monthly calls, to maintain consistent and open lines of communication between our technical Anaplan users and key stakeholders. These calls are designed to engage various stakeholder groups, including technical builders, and are instrumental in prioritizing projects, enhancements, and bug fixes.
Our weekly calls revolve around an Enhancement Tracker, where we harness a specialized model dedicated to identifying and addressing bug fixes and enhancements. Additionally, ongoing projects are thoroughly discussed during these weekly sessions.
Conversely, our monthly calls assemble major stakeholders from different segments within the organization to deliberate on new projects and associated timelines. Subsequently, these projects are integrated into a comprehensive project timeline. The prioritization of Anaplan projects on this timeline is managed collaboratively by our Group FP&A team and regional CFOs.
Upon reaching consensus on project priorities, we extend invitations to new project stakeholders, incorporating them into our weekly CoE calls until project delivery has been successfully accomplished.
Q: As a CoE Leader, what are some benefits to having that connection with Anaplan Business Partners and Customer Success?
Kyle: Building strong connections with Anaplan Business Partners and Customer Success teams offers several benefits, including expert guidance, tailored solutions, faster implementation, scalability, troubleshooting support, access to updates, continuous improvement, networking opportunities, enhanced user adoption, and alignment with Anaplan's roadmap. These connections can be instrumental in maximizing the value of the Anaplan platform for your organization.
Q: What are some of the resources in the Anaplan Community that you find valuable?
Kyle: Some valuable resources within the Anaplan Community include discussion forums, documentation, webinars, Anaplan Model Exchange, Idea Exchange, training and certification, user groups, Anapedia, support and case management, customer success stories, release notes, and the Anaplan App Hub. These resources offer knowledge, support, and networking opportunities to maximize the benefits of Anaplan for your organization.
In addition to these resources, active participation in the Anaplan Community fosters collaboration and the exchange of best practices among peers, further enhancing your organization's proficiency with the platform.
A big thank you to Kyle, for sharing his story and expertise with us! Kyle shared his Certified Master Anaplanner story with us last year, if you would like to view that interview!
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.