Center of Excellence Production Support


A strong production support model is crucial to the success and sustainability of Anaplan models. — By Prince Ayinde @ Linkedin CoE

Connected Planning doesn’t happen overnight. Onboarding and connecting disparate teams and business functions must be an intentional and organized effort, coordinated through a central ownership group or a Center of Excellence.

The Center of Excellence is responsible for maintaining stable enterprise-grade production models and a strategic and scalable roadmap, while also sharing lessons learned across the organization. In this article, we'll dive into the production support (often called Business As Usual, or BAU) a Center of Excellence is responsible for.

Centers of Excellence enable  cross-functional Connected PlanningCenters of Excellence enable cross-functional Connected Planning.

Once a few use cases are deployed, the Center of Excellence is responsible for everything from customer service to Connected Planning expansion and value realization. While every individual Center of Excellence has a unique charter and set of outcomes by which to measure success, a commonality among all Centers of Excellence is an emphasis on supporting the business and unlocking the true potential and benefits of Connected Planning.

Hierarchy of Center of Excellence production support functionsHierarchy of Center of Excellence production support functions.

The Center of Excellence needs to define which elements of this framework fall within its responsibility, and which are owned elsewhere in the organization. It is common for companies to have separate support organizations in place that may overlap with any of these functions (often in an IT department), and it isn’t necessary for an Anaplan Center of Excellence to duplicate services provided elsewhere. In these cases, the Center of Excellence’s priority is ensuring that these objectives are being met somewhere and that the business is not prevented from realizing the value of Connected Planning.

Core responsibilities of maintaining and expanding an Anaplan footprintCore responsibilities of maintaining and expanding an Anaplan footprint.

At the foundation of the framework is customer support or production defect management. If the Center of Excellence is the primary point of contact for Anaplan defect intake, the team should be prepared for the common types of support issues that end users may raise. These will vary significantly across deployments, use cases, and companies, so the Center of Excellence is responsible for asking for any potential issues during the implementation and before each model is deployed to production.

Examples of common support issues and the responsible support ownerExamples of common support issues, and the responsible support owner.

The Center of Excellence is responsible for having a formal structure in place to receive, respond to, and resolve defects raised by the business. Most companies have a framework in place to deal with a platform-agnostic incident resolution, and the process itself is less important than ensuring that the process is thoroughly-defined, consistently-executed, and well-communicated to stakeholders.

One customers support ticket processOne customer’s support ticket process.

Expectations should also be clearly communicated to all stakeholders. Service Level Agreements (SLAs) should be defined and agreed upon up front, and then tracked and measured against at regularly scheduled intervals.

Support Service Level Agreements

Moving to the top end of the value spectrum of the Center of Excellence framework, Centers of Excellence should be prepared for a steadily increasing rate of enhancement and new use case requests from the business. This is to be expected as the business becomes more comfortable with Anaplan and becomes increasingly excited about leveraging the technology to advance their planning sophistication. The Center of Excellence’s job at this point is to act as a multiplier, not a bottleneck, to this business expansion.

Receiving and prioritizing enhancement and expansion requestsReceiving and prioritizing enhancement and expansion requests.

Similarly to defect resolution, the Center of Excellence should outline a precise process through which the business can raise enhancement and new use case requests. The process should be as transparent as possible, and as with defects, it is critical that the process is clear and consistent.

One customers change request processOne customer’s change request process.

Expectations around handling new requests should be established with the same rigor as defect resolutions and should be equally measured and reported consistently.

Change Request Service Level Agreements

A Center of Excellence should hold itself accountable for supporting the business in its use of Anaplan to enable Connected Planning. By following the production support framework, the Center of Excellence can play a critical role in assisting the business to realize the unique value and ensuring that the Center of Excellence continues to receive the care and resources needed to support continued future evolution.

Follow these next steps to build your Center of ExcellenceFollow these next steps to build your Center of Excellence.

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Center of Excellence Roles and Responsibilities

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