How to unite an Anaplan Center of Excellence
Author: Nick Alvarez is a Certified Master Anaplanner and Manager, Anaplan Model Building Empowerment at Autodesk, Inc.
We’re on a journey to unite Anaplanners across Autodesk under one Anaplan Center of Excellence (CoE). As we expand the Anaplan honeycomb and our models become more and more connected, we’ve recognized the need to shift from a decentralized to a hybrid governance model to better support and scale our Connected Planning ecosystem.
Keep reading for tips to unite an Anaplan CoE based on lessons learned as I help lead Autodesk’s Connected Planning journey.
Craft and present a gameplan to leadership
Leadership support is crucial in the journey to develop and unite your CoE — you need leaders to buy into and advocate for your vision. Start by putting together a gameplan and present it to key leaders across your Connected Planning ecosystem. Include information such as:
- Executive summary: Why and how are you proposing that your company unite under one Anaplan CoE? What actions or support do you need from leadership?
- Vision: What will your united Anaplan CoE look like? What are the key elements of the vision?
- Value: What value will a united Anaplan CoE provide your company? What areas will a united Anaplan CoE help improve?
- Next steps: What are the key steps to achieve your vision?
For inspiration on these topics, leverage the wealth of CoE resources offered by Anaplan.
The goals for this presentation are to secure leadership buy-in, and to collect feedback that you can use to improve your gameplan.
Create a CoE Charter
A united Anaplan CoE needs a united mission — work with all Anaplan teams / people at your company to draft a charter (use the template provided by Anaplan). As stated in the charter template introduction, “This charter will provide details of your Anaplan CoE’s mission and established processes that are best suited for your company.”
If there are multiple Anaplan teams or people building models at your company, it’s important to include representation from every team during the drafting of the charter. There are two major benefits to drafting the charter together:
- The teams will learn about each other (e.g. team structure, subject matter expertise, model support management, how each team currently operates).
- The teams will begin to build trust and respect with each other.
Send a draft of your charter to your Anaplan Customer Success partner and use their feedback to improve your charter.
Create avenues for CoE members to connect
For an Anaplan CoE to unite, you need to create avenues where CoE members can regularly interact and knowledge share with each other.
Schedule a recurring, quarterly CoE meetup where Anaplanners across your company can connect with each other on all-things-Anaplan. Invite all members of your Anaplan CoE, including leadership, model builders, Solution Architects, product managers, and project managers.
It may be challenging to find a meeting time that works for everyone, but it’s okay if everyone doesn’t attend every meeting — what’s most important is that these meetings provide a consistent avenue for CoE members to learn from and engage with each other.
When putting together agendas for these meetings, choose topics that your CoE members will find interesting and valuable. Here are a few topics we’ve covered in our meetups:
- Review existing and crowd source new Anaplan model standards and best practices used at your company.
- Have each team share their Anaplan roadmap.
- Have a CoE member demo an Anaplan model.
- Have a CoE member showcase an Anaplan feature (e.g. Management Reporting).
- Divide into breakout rooms for CoE members to chat and get to know each other.
Over time, these meetups will help create and strengthen bonds across your CoE, and set the foundation for further collaboration, trust, and knowledge sharing.
Consider creating a company-wide Slack or Teams channel for all CoE members to chat, collaborate, ask questions, and “phone-a-friend” if they get stuck while model building. Having a way to reach out to other subject matter experts at the company can help remove blockers faster.
Explore opportunities to collaborate
Explore opportunities across your CoE for Anaplan teams to collaborate on a project — you can use the recurring CoE meetings suggested above to start the conversation and brainstorm ideas for opportunities!
Below are a few examples of potential projects. If the Anaplan teams at your company have never collaborated with each other before, start small and build trust:
- Optimize a model.
- Work on new, connected builds in parallel (e.g. two models that will be connected via integration).
- Co-build on a new model build.
- Identify a new end-to-end Anaplan use case that spans multiple teams’ areas of expertise (e.g. Finance and HR).
By working on a project together, the Anaplan teams will learn from each other, be better aligned on the creation and adoption of shared model standards, and act as a united voice for the benefits and value delivered by Anaplan across the company.
Uniting an Anaplan Center of Excellence is a journey that takes ongoing time and effort, but the benefits of doing so make it a worthwhile endeavor. One key benefit to CoE members is that being part of a united CoE helps them feel a greater sense of purpose through understanding that their work is helping drive the greater mission of their connected planning ecosystem.
Have a tip for uniting an Anaplan CoE? Drop a note in the comments below.