Tips on role communication and building Anaplan models
Author: Chad Frantz is a Certified Master Anaplanner and Senior Consultant at Lionpoint Group.
It can be tempting when developing a new model in Anaplan to jump right into the technical aspects and start building to get all the benefits as quickly as possible. But one aspect of optimizing the modeling experience that can be overlooked is how important the perspective of each role can be.
Here I’d like to share a few tips and hopefully get the gears working earlier in the process to consider how these perspectives can be used to get the most out of models. Also, during 2022’s ACE presentations, there was a great conversation, “Model Builder Collaboration with UX Designers and End Users”. Definitely check that out if you’d like to review more on this topic.
There can be a variety of roles in each project. Not all projects will be the same and the roles may vary, or individuals may serve in multiple roles. For the sake of this conversation, we’ll focus on these three roles: model builder, UX designer (page builder), and end user.
The model builder will design the model using DISCO methodology to create the most effective and efficient version of the model possible so that the model takes in all the appropriate data and inputs to calculate the correct outputs.
The UX designer will design the pages with a focus on presentation and workflow so that end users clearly understand what is expected of them and they see the results in a way that makes sense for them to digest.
For the end user, this should mean a clear process in Anaplan that offers all the benefits without sacrificing functionality of the existing process.
In isolation, each of these roles may see a clear path to complete their objectives, but these paths may not always be the same. Collaboration and communication among the roles is crucial to hitting the optimal balance. Next, we’ll look at a few examples of how to achieve this during the model building process.
Tip #1: Communicate
Communication really is key to establishing a cohesive vision to build towards. Therefore, the first tip is to include all roles as early as possible during model development, preferably from the very early foundation stages. This way everyone has the same set of objectives and a shared vision of the end result. This should be maintained through the project with regular check in sessions for everyone to provide status updates and feedback.
Tip #2: Develop drafts
One way to establish this cohesive vision is to create drafts or wireframes of what the end result should look like. By working through this process before diving into development, it gives the end users a chance to share their expectations and also gives the model builders and UX designers a chance to offer suggestions to best utilize Anaplan’s functionality.
Perhaps the end users are new to Anaplan and are unfamiliar with tools such as forms or workflow that could improve on the existing process that the end user is using as a template for design. In addition, it gives the Anaplan build team a chance to better understand the current process and requirements to possibly offer suggestions on changes to the process that will allow for a more seamless experience in Anaplan. Transferring a process to Anaplan is a great opportunity to evaluate the process while building. Developing drafts gives the users more options to consider and developers a clearer picture of what is required.
Tip #3: Demo/test frequently
During development, another great way to engage the full team is to frequently demo/test elements of the build as it’s being built. Not only does this give the end users a chance to see their design live, but it gives them a chance to interact with it and provide valuable feedback.
End users may have liked the design in theory, but after getting hands-on experience, developed some thoughts for improvements or thought of other edge cases that might not fit. Or maybe the development team noticed some opportunities for improved presentation while building. Having frequent demo sessions and testing phases allows for this back and forth to happen while the topic is on the top of the teams’ mind and while it’s simpler to adjust for the developers. This iterative approach to development really adds a level of flexibility that results in a better end product and keeps users engaged throughout the whole process.
Another key point raised in the ACE presentation referenced above is the impact of the tell/show/tell system of demoing. In this method, the presenters explain what they are going to show, then show them what was described, and then recap again what was demonstrated. This method really helps to focus users on the specific topic at hand and therefore can provide more focused and valuable feedback rather than getting lost in the larger process or on a parallel process.
I hope that this article provides useful information to help other Anaplanners focus their build and design as a collaborative team starting at the earliest stages of development and please do check out the ACE recording for more information.
Questions? Leave a comment!