Chris Weiss: What is the Center of Excellence Development Maturity Curve?

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Certified Master Anaplanner

Re: Chris Weiss: What is the Center of Excellence Development Maturity Curve?

@ChrisWeiss If Anaplan customers are limited on resources for building their COE, what's the best steps to take to get some buy-in to invest in a COE?

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Community Manager

Re: Chris Weiss: What is the Center of Excellence Development Maturity Curve?

Hi @Agandhi, this is a really common question, thanks for bringing it up!

I’ll start with the fact that it’s alright for an Anaplan CoE to start small. We see very successful CoEs managing several production use cases with 2-3 full time employees. The CoE should grow and scale over time with the Anaplan footprint, so the best way of approaching your question is to pivot slightly from focusing on expanding the CoE team and towards expanding the business impact and benefit of the Anaplan footprint within the company (promise I’m not getting sales-y, I’m not talking about buying more Anaplan licenses necessarily, but more along the lines of building more use cases/models or whoever you can provide additional value to the business). This way the limited resources on your current CoE are seen as a roadblock to additional success, rather than a cost to be minimized.

In order to accomplish this, it’s critical to measure and report the key successes of the current team. We are definitely in the early stages of maturity in terms of CoEs reporting internal ROI metrics, but it’s something we’re starting to see more of, and will share out more examples in the coming months. In the meantime you can review some of the success metrics we report for our customers at anaplan.com/customers, though you may already have a good sense of the benefit you’ve provided.

And if those metrics don’t make the strongest case on their own, I’d recommend peeling away to find some time to build some quick proof of concepts to demonstrate the potential for Anaplan to solve new challenges or use cases to key executive sponsors. When leaders can see the speed and value you can bring to the business, it becomes much easier for them to invest in expanding your team, since there’s a direct benefit to the bottom line (not just the cost of expanding your team).

That said, you may not even have your 2-3 FTEs. If that’s the case, I would recommend reviewing some of the customer CoE success stories that are out there (CPX 2019 SF CoE panel, CPX 2019 London CoE panel, Anaplan Live! customer panel, etc.), or connect directly with a similar Anaplan customer as a reference, to help show your leadership team that you’re prepared to help maximize the value of the investment they’ve already made in Anaplan. Nobody wants to leave money on the table, so finding similar relatable customers who have articulated the value they received from building even a small CoE may help you get the ball rolling.

 

Wishing you the best of luck with your additional investment, hope that helps!

-Chris Weiss
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Certified Master Anaplanner

Re: Chris Weiss: What is the Center of Excellence Development Maturity Curve?

Phase 1 Implementation: Compensation System

 

  • Due to efficiency gain: Removed 2 commission analyst HC ($200K Annually)
  • Re-purposed 1 Commission analyst HC as Anaplan admin to manage the model enhancement and maintenance

 

Phase 2 Implementation: Segmentation and Territory Management

 

 

  • $200K internal costs assumed funded by leveraging existing annual Go-To-Market spend on OBI Enhancements (6 months of consulting engagement every year). No need to manage/support OBI Rules.
  • Hired 1 person to manage Segmentation and Territory Management in Anaplan for $100 k (savings of $100 K on GTM spend)
  • Later the same person managed Quota Planning as well

 

Phase 3 Implementation: Product P&L by Finance team

 

 

  • First federated CoE model
  • Productivity gain from 4 weeks to 2 days
  • Resource re-purposed to build other P&L modeling
  • Later full time part of CoE (Federated) to help build FP&A applications
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Community Manager

Re: Chris Weiss: What is the Center of Excellence Development Maturity Curve?

Thanks @prakash_harihar, really appreciate you sharing your experience here! And for everybody else who doesn't already know Prakash, he works at Anaplan now but is famous in the land of CoEs as the leader and creator of our first ever Customer CoE from his time at McAfee. Many of the foundations for our customer CoE strategies come from his work, so thanks Prakash for everything, and these details should be very useful as other CoEs look to find additional funding and support for their teams!

-Chris Weiss
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Certified Master Anaplanner

Re: Chris Weiss: What is the Center of Excellence Development Maturity Curve?

I have a question regarding ALM deployments.  Most IT departments have rigorous change control processes to minimize the risk of users being adversely impacted by the introduction of new code to Production.  A deployment checklist may include validating that the change was approved, the code reviewed and testing completed.  Do you see the COE providing this governance?   if so, what factors should they consider when determining how much formal process their organization needs?

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Re: Chris Weiss: What is the Center of Excellence Development Maturity Curve?

Hi @Ellen.Morley,

Thanks so much for the detailed question around deployment management, definitely a key area of focus for CoEs that want to prepare for (or currently manage) multiple use cases/departments.

Yes, especially where required by IT I definitely see the CoE as being responsible for providing an ALM deployment checklist. The CoE are likely the ones with the most experience both with ensuring successful deployments, and the internal procedures and politics around working with IT.

It’s also worth not in that we recommend that IT play a supporting role in every CoE (more details here). I mention that because in situations like these, especially where required by IT, somebody from that IT department should already be regularly engaged with the CoE and should help in co-creating this document. In typical business-run CoEs this may be the first SDLC or deployment process they have managed, whereas IT has much more expertise here, so definitely take advantage of their experience.

I’ll specifically point to an excellent CoE forum post by 2019’s Master Anaplanner of the Year @bdeaton, who described her CoE’s very detailed approach to testing and documentation before every deployment. 

You make a great point around wondering how formal this process should be, and of course this will be different customer to customer based on internal policies. That said, since one of the primary goals of the CoE should be maintaining agility and providing increased speed to value, the bar really should be set at requiring as little formality as possible to ensure successful deployments while complying with IT policies.

 

Thanks for the great topic, hope that helps!

-Chris Weiss
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Certified Master Anaplanner

Re: Chris Weiss: What is the Center of Excellence Development Maturity Curve?

I consider model governance the most important aspect of our Anaplan COE with the goal being to improve the reliance that people can place on all of our Anaplan models. I definitely see governance as a value add process and not an exercise in compliance, so I try to always focus on what we get out of performing a governance process before making it mandatory in our system.

 

A huge part of our model governance centers around making and deploying changes to existing models. I would say that our approach was to try to develop a process that would balance an appropriate level of simplicity (so as to encourage model builders to follow the process willingly) with mitigating against model risk. We definitely pulled in elements of IT change management processes, but tailored them to meet our needs. We established the process, then trained up all the model builders on it, and are regularly involved in performing the necessary steps (COE approval is required for every promotion and we are the only ones who actually run the promotion processes).

 

As for factors to consider: They key factor is all about risk - you need to understand what the risks are and then determine how much risk your organization is willing to take on vs mitigate. Check in with your stakeholders to ensure you understand what risks they are concerned with. Remain flexible and express that to your model builders so they will provide open and honest feedback about the processes you've put into place - they may understand the risks better than others since they are most involved with the details, so their buy-in is key. Layer in changes over time and demonstrate the value that the controls add so you can get buy-in from model builders and stakeholders. Connect with your internal audit partners. It's their training to identify risks and assess controls. Leverage that expertise and run ideas by them to help determine if they will be effective in controlling risk.

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Certified Master Anaplanner

Re: Chris Weiss: What is the Center of Excellence Development Maturity Curve?

@ChrisWeiss 

 

What advice would you give to ensure that a CoE continues to advance their Anaplan footprint though new use cases?  In the early stages of CoE I would presume there is often a slate of projects that can be tackled and a backlog of model building to take on.  But what happens when the pipeline starts to dry up, is there a point at which you go fully into "maintenance mode"?  Appreciate any insights you would offer.  

Community Manager

Re: Chris Weiss: What is the Center of Excellence Development Maturity Curve?

Hi @Tiffany.Rice,

Great question, roadmap development is directly related to the final stages of building a mature CoE.

The short answer to your question of CoEs entering “Maintenance Mode” is that while there are definitely some of those out there, I wouldn’t personally recommend that as an aspirational goal until true Connected Planning is achieved across your entire company! (How’s that for aspirational?!)

I have seen plenty of mature CoEs whose primary goals are proactively taking Anaplan out to different areas of the business, demonstrating the value of Connected Planning (or even just Better planning, for that matter), and then have responsibility for the process of scoping the work and overseeing the implementation (whether they own the actual model build or not). Some of the customers I spoke to on CPX 2019’s CoE Panels discussed how they approached this topic (Maria Milazzo in San Francisco ~8:41, and Ashley Stevens in London ~23:45). At the end of the day, the best CoEs are those who achieve Connected Planning, not just those who build and manage the best Anaplan models.

Along those lines, we recommend that all CoEs build their Connected Planning Topology/Honeycomb/Roadmap, or whatever you want to call it. We’re in the early phase of building an accelerator for CoEs to manage this, tagging in @Beauram to loop you in on the pilot group if she hasn’t already. Hopefully these tools help make it easier for CoEs to tackle the more administrative parts of this mission.

But building a roadmap isn’t just about putting a bunch of hexagons on a slide, it requires transformational leadership. For CoEs who have successfully completed their backlog and have become a well-oiled machine efficiently managing the day-to-day with spare time on their hands, you have earned the right to take on this higher level challenge. This is your opportunity to pivot to become exponentially more impactful in your work and be at the forefront of bringing the Connected Planning vision to life at your company. While you may need a Chief Planning Officer to help make the path a little easier (more resources to come there soon), if you’re in a position to chart your own course you can absolutely be the change in your organization. And along the way you may even set yourself on the path to achieving this role yourself, along with countless other career opportunities.

 

Thanks for getting me started on this great topic, I’m sure many of us here could rant on about it forever, hope this is helpful!

-Chris Weiss
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Certified Master Anaplanner

Re: Chris Weiss: What is the Center of Excellence Development Maturity Curve?

Hello @ChrisWeiss 

Thank you for doing this AMA on CoE. A very interesting topic. I have a questions that is not purely CoE related but I thought I would ask it.

We would like to set-up an engagement model where the CoE develops all the models and does all the enhancements (and basically owns all Anaplan development related activities) but the business owners run the model maintenance. And by "model maintenance", I mean mainly:

1) Create the new versions (weekly, monthly, quarterly depending on the process). More often than not, we use a standrad list for versions

2) Bulk copy the "prior" version into the current one. That way the starting point of the new version is equal to the prior week and users onyl need to update the changes

3) Gather enhancement request from users

 

The problem with this set-up (in particular item 2) above) is  that the business owner would need admin rights and we would like to avoid that.

Have you come accross a similar scenario? How can we manage the process  differently without moving all the "model maintenance" tasks to the CoE?

Many thanks in advance for your insight.