Model change best practices (Sept 2023 Community Challenge recap)


Author: Julie Ziemer is a Certified Master Anaplanner, Anaplan Community Boss, and Solution Leader/Business Analyst at Akili.

There were so many detailed answers to the September Community Challenge — it was a challenge just to sort through all the great information! To help the Community, I thought it would be helpful to summarize the best answers.

The question: “As an Anaplan model builder, what steps do you take to ensure that changes you make to an existing module don't create unexpected results in the module you made changes to and in other modules?”

Synopsis of the best answers:

  • You may first want to consider your organization’s Change Tolerance toward Anaplan. See @JaredDolich's great outline of the four quadrants of prioritizing Anaplan change requests here: Corporate Psychology vs. Customer Satisfaction.
  • Always review and utilize Anaplan best practices (DISCO, PLANS, The Planual, ALM and your organizations Center of Excellence best practices). The best models out there are built using these best practices.
  • As the adage goes (and @Tiffany.Rice says), “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, and this definitely holds true when it comes to changing a production deployed model. Start by laying out a plan of action.
    1. Narrow in on the objective — what changes do you expect to see and what should stay the same?
    2. From there, work backwards. For example, if you expect to see a methodology change to a specific forecast account, start with the reporting output module and trace the formulas back to the originating inputs.
    3. Determine the type of change. This table from @Misbah and @Puneeth H P helps guide the solution path:
    4. Layout any and all module/list/actions that need to be updated — both formula and production data updates. This can help to surface questions early that might need clarifications from business partners on requirements before they become roadblocks.
    5. Contemplate dependencies, sequencing, and execution. Certain changes might necessitate a series of ALM revision tags — for example, if modifying an input module to be based on a subset, the subset is defined on one tag and populated in PROD before the tag with the module revision is synced. Contemplate the optimal order of execution to ensure no production data is lost and the development is logical and meticulous.
    6. Ensure the appropriate baselines for validation are captured. Capture the core output modules to validate before/after impacts of the revisions. If any line items you are changing or removing have references to other module line items, export the correct output values for validation once you have finished changes.
    7. Create comprehensive test plans. Test scripts, unit testing, user acceptance yesting, Dev-QA-Prod migration testing and system integrated testing need to be considered as appropriate for the complexity of the change.
    8. Determine what change documentation you may need to provide support to auditors or other interested parties.

Once you have considered all these steps, you should be ready to start executing your plan. To see more detailed tips, go to the September 2023 Community Q&A Challenge.

Happy modeling!


  • Thanks for the synopsis @jziemer! This will be a handy reference guide the next time we are working on a model change (which coincidentally is right now!).