AMA: Model Sparsity Principles & CoE Best Practices

edited December 2022 in Spotlight Series

Mark Shemaria is truly a part of the fabric of Anaplan, having been around since the beginning. His vast experience in architecture, design, and implementation makes him a highly sought-after resource. 

Tell us a little bit about your experience here at Anaplan. How long have you been here? What areas have you worked in? 

I have focused on supporting some of our most innovative and challenging customers as they progress through the Anaplan platform journey, optimizing the value of using this amazing technology.

I was the first Anaplan architect in North America, helped in forming the original Master Anaplanner groups. I’m in my 8th year at Anaplan.  

What is your area of expertise, and how did you achieve it?
One of our most important customers, of course, is Anaplan. Anaplan’s use of the Anaplan platform as a proving ground for Connected Planning and as a showcase for what is truly possible for our customers is my primary objective.

For 25+ years I have developed and deployed successful architectures, designs, implementations and testing of management systems using multi-dimensional data structure technologies. I trained and licensed as a CPA and before Anaplan worked with Adaytum, Cognos and TM1 EPM technologies.

What makes Anaplan a great place to work?

Anaplan is a great place to work because of the opportunity to meet and work with people passionate about using this powerful new technology.

Tell us one fun fact about yourself! 

I’m a soccer dad of a power wheelchair soccer athlete who plays in National competitions.

Note: The live Q&A session is now closed.


  • Are you ready for another Ask Me Anything?  

    Join us for the next session, June 4 through June 7 — featuring Mark Shemaria answering questions about Center of Excellence best practices and Model Sparsity principles. 

    Be sure to check out details for how it works and learn more about the expert in the Community. You've got questions? We've got answers! 



  • Hello Mark,

    In your opinion, once you have set-up a CoE, does it make sense to have power users on the users side that take care of "maintenance" tasks? (e.g. loading latest data with a specific action created for them, creating the new version, managing read/write access by version,  etc.)

    And why?

    Many thanks

  • Hayk

    Hello Mark,

    We often use subsets to reduce model sparsity. And some of those subsets can be described using formula.

    Does Anaplan team have any plans to make it possible to write formulas for subsets? Currently we use actions to automate subsets maintenance.

    Thanks & Regards,


  • Hello Mark,

    What's the best practice to manage workspace administrator rights within a CoE?

    We split our workspaces by department (Sales Finance, FP&A, etc.). It's the best way to manage the diffrent users and user access.

    However, a model builder can work accross different workspaces (1 model in workspace A and 2 models in workspace B) and we would like to limit his administrator access only to those models. Currently that's not possible.

    I What would you suggest? Ideally, we would like to have "model administrator" tickbox (in addition to the workspace administrator).

  • Hi,

    Can you provide some more insights on new UI features coming in next releases?



  • Hello Mark,

    We have a module is dimensioned by weeks and a list of programs (say 1,000 programs in the list). However, half of the programs only have data in the first 26 weeks and the other half only has data in the rest of the weeks. If the module is dimensioned by the weeks and the list, it would be very sparse.

    What's your recommendation to reduce sparsity in this case?

    Thank you!!
  • The primary things to focus on with a COE are the "end-to-end" process steps which are necessary to maintain the various model and data model environment.  Essentially, defining and documenting what the steps are.  Defining the processes leads to things like assignment of responsibilities and automation.  Segregating the role of users responsible for maintenance and updates to users who have been assigned running actions and data validation, as an example is a solid idea.  


    Models are not static, your business environment is not static, so having a well defined process description also entails responsibility for updating the various processes used in Anaplan, whether data load, model logic, model access, outputs, etc.  

  • Maintenance of subsets via calculations in modules set up to maintain the subsets through imports is currently a best practice. Directly maintaining subsets by formula within a list is not currently on the immediate product roadmap. We encourage you to post Request For Enhancements RFE.
  • User access maintenace across multiple models by the use of a central user administration model (think User Access Management) which is the source for updating user access in multiple models is a recommended approach.

  • Ravi
    Best place to monitor upcoming features is here in Community. Also, submitting Requests For Enhancement and participating in Early Adopter programs is available.
  • There are a view options to consider: 1) subset the programs by 1st half and 2nd half and use the subsets separately to manage sparsity. 2) Consider time ranges which is similar, limited to full years only, and  won't give you the flexibility of subsets, i.e. multiple time ranges will have to be maintained. 3) If the program module is by time and is primarily an input or plan/actual data module how data load is structured will impact the degree of sparsity over time. Are all of the programs in populated in the timescale, or could a numbered list be used to reduce the program list size.

  • Got a question for Mark? Connect with him live today from 9-10 PST!
  • Is there audio because I can't find a way to connect?  I don't have a specific question but wanted to listen to the questions and answers.  Thanks.

  • Hi Debbie. no audio for this session. we will respond to posts ASAP.
  • Hi Mark,

    Is there any tool being built which can indicate modules which has high sparsity. This should help saving time by reducing the analysis time in each modules.


    Sheethal N

  • Hi Sheethal,
    Short answer is no, there isn't a tool available to determine sparsity. In an Anaplan model, every cell is assumed to consume server memory.  High sparsity is inferred through an analysis of the dimensional intersections which are not intended or are not populated. The best technique for sparsity analysis is to review the subject model's largest modules and determine the inferred sparsity in those largest modules.

  • As a reminder, there is no dial-in for this session. The session is taking place fully here in the Community. Please post your questions to the topic, and Mark will respond as soon as possible. Remember to review all the great questions and responses that have come in so far!
  • Hi Mark,

    Can you expand on this? I'm assuming it'd be best ot have a user admin model for access management in a Data Hub. Can roles also be assigned using such a model?

  • Hi Darin,
    The User Admin model will be "governed" by the WSA rules of the Workspace and Model. Hence, the Admin model should be in a Workspace where the person who has WSA rights could change other models and users. The assumes that this model maintenance requires WSA/model build access, which is not necessary, however, i.e. a standard model builder could do admin /non-WSA work. Roles are assigned by model to users. A user in a model can only have one role. Roles limit access to modules, hence dashboards, lists, actions etc. Roles can be assigned in an Admin model and imported to the target model(s).

  • This session will wrap up in one hour. Please submit your final questions for Mark as soon as possible! 

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