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Certified Master Anaplanner

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

Hi @Megan_Carrozza 

 

Thanks for those valuable inputs. Much appreciated. Having dedicated model builders with 100% focus on Anaplan related activities is a vital point. As we setup our CoE, we would like to connect with customers like you and hear success stories and get feedback/suggestions.I will message you to explore options to have a quick zoom connect with you and team.

 

Just curious to know. Do you guys follow all/some of the below activities?

 

1) Create stories for all new changes (even if it is related to a small line item formula change or dashboard chnage)

2) Are those stories prioritized, vetted for benefits vs cost

3) Create design/schema, solution approach before building

4) Plan for data flow automation, data granularity, data volumes etc

5) Expert review of design/schema

6) Review the models for best practices, performance and regression testing in DEV instance

7) Refresh TEST instance with production quality data

😎 Get UAT sign-off in TEST instance, test for period-end activities

9) Use ALM to move changes to PRD instance based on clearly established release cycles

10) Clearly defined process for user access management (both on-boarding and off-boarding)

11) Update documentation and process maps

12) Provide training to end-users

13) Track tool adoption

 

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Certified Master Anaplanner

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

Hi @LokeshNandula - happy to connect further if it's helpful. Below are some quick responses to your questions.

 

1) Create stories for all new changes (even if it is related to a small line item formula change or dashboard change) -- we do not create user stories for every change we make in a model. For example, when we're fixing something or adding a simple new field/metric to a module. We do create user stories for projects or larger additions. An area we're always looking to improve on.

 

2) Are those stories prioritized, vetted for benefits vs cost

Maybe need you to clarify this question. Are you asking whether we decide to create user stories depending on the benefits vs. time it takes to create?

 

3) Create design/schema, solution approach before building

Yes, we think design phase is the most important and where a lot of the project time should be spent. The build is actually much easier than agreeing on design 🙂

 

4) Plan for data flow automation, data granularity, data volumes etc

My team owns all data integrations in and out of Anaplan. This includes making sure we have the best structure set up, including level of detail required. We use Snaplogic as our ETL tool.

 

5) Expert review of design/schema

Same answer as #3. I will also say this is often where we have engaged with Impetus Consulting Group to help ensure the design is ready for build. 

 

6) Review the models for best practices, performance and regression testing in DEV instance

Yes. Model improvements is a big part of our job. We are always rolling out new versions of current models that reflect best practices.

 

7) Refresh TEST instance with production quality data

We have PROD and DEV models in our environment (however, we currently do not use ALM). We take new copies of our PROD environment into DEV on a regular basis. 

 

8 Get UAT sign-off in TEST instance, test for period-end activities

All of our larger projects need to go through a UAT with end-users. 

 

9) Use ALM to move changes to PRD instance based on clearly established release cycles

We do not use ALM today due to some limitations that make it difficult to apply to our current environment. That said, we revisit often because we do think an ALM approach is a best practice.

 

10) Clearly defined process for user access management (both on-boarding and off-boarding)

We do keep track of employees who have left the company and ensure access is removed (although risk is low since we use SSO). We also have a standard form and manager approval process to onboard new users. This is however somewhere that my team and I need to improve as the process can be smoother I think. On our list of things to tackle this year 🙂 

 

11) Update documentation and process maps

This is an area where we have improved a lot last year! We leverage text on dashboards and reference modules for a lot of the model documentation. In addition, we use LucidChart to create process and data flow maps that we embed on dashboards for user and admin reference. 

 

12) Provide training to end-users

Yes. We try to host in-person trainings a few times per year, especially for new models we've just released. We also provide model builder training for builders outside the COE team. 

 

13) Track tool adoption

Not formally. 

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Certified Master Anaplanner

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

Hi @ChrisWeiss, How would you see the role of Partners play in a Customer's CoE? Do we provide guidance for them to setup a CoE and provide long term support?

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Community Manager

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

Hi @UpaliW,

Great question, as with everything in the Anaplan ecosystem we work extremely closely with our Partners to ensure the success of our customers along every step of their journey, including building and scaling a CoE. 

I’ll share two of the most useful resources that I’ve seen lately when thinking about the relationship between Customer, Partner, and Anaplan in terms of CoEs. First, we’ve learned that the best time for new customers to build their CoE is during their first model implementation. Partners typically take the lead in this step of the customer journey, and we’ve identified a simple roadmap to help Partners support our customers build a CoE as part of The Anaplan Way. 

During UAT, when customers begin releasing Anaplan to their end users for the first time and collect test script feedback, Partners are typically responsible for managing any defects and issues that will prevent successful go-live, but typically lots of out of scope and enhancement requests also come up. We recommend using the attached template to split responsibilities between customer and Partner, with the Partner owning the dedicated UAT activities, and the customer owning the CoE-Lite activities, as the foundation for what will become their Full CoE after deployment. This also helps the Partner focus their time and attention where they can add the most value during the sometimes chaotic time of UAT, on fixing in-scope defects that are critical to the success of the initial deployment.

Additionally, our most mature customer CoEs have developed very robust, evolving relationships with their Partners as they take on new roles with the Customer, everything from providing complex technical solution architecture across all cloud platforms and providing thought leadership on Connected Planning and how to achieve excellence in planning in specific LOBs. Our most recent customer interview panel went into some details here, especially around 5:17.

Thanks Upali, always glad to make sure the Partner perspective is included in everything we do here, great question!

-Chris Weiss
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Occasional Contributor

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

Hi Chris!

 

Could you please share how the CARM controls and model health are addressed in CoE models that do not manage Anaplan as an IT asset?

 

Thank you

 

Nikita Gnilozub

Diageo Anaplan CoE Anaplan CoE Solution Architect 

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Community Manager

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

Hi @Nikita_S_Gnilozub,

Great question, managing compliance controls like Diageo's CARM or more general SOX compliance is starting to come up more often.

In complete transparency, it isn't something that I have much experience with and these usually require very strict formal approaches, but I do know we will need to provide more support here as this catches up to becoming a priority for more customer CoEs. So I can offer a few high-level customer examples, and hopefully some others from the community can chime in here as well.

First, I've seen customers lean heavily on the Model History to manage this. Some creative customers have built input modules that are structured the same as the export from the Model History, so they run a Model History export at regularly scheduled intervals, then upload the file back into an Anaplan module, and use that for compliance and audit reporting. I know that I'm oversimplifying a pretty complex process, especially for a group like Diageo who manage MANY different models, but it might inspire some ideas.

I also am aware of some customers who have tried to use Tenant Administration to manage this, though I think this provides limited usefulness at this time. But worth taking a look.

And last I would say this is definitely something worth partnering closely with IT on. Aligning to internal policies and procedures is probably your best bet here, especially in the short term (I know your group is unique here, but this should stand for most other customers with a similar question).

Hope this helps for now, knowing that this is an underdeveloped topic that definitely needs a closer look!

 

-Chris Weiss
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Certified Master Anaplanner

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

Hi @Nikita_S_Gnilozub ,

 

To elaborate a little on Chris's recommendations, we've implemented a few strategies internally at Anaplan that've allowed us to mitigate risk. We start by ensuring all data coming in from our transactional systems and data warehouse are validated. We do this through a series of checks both in our data warehouse and anaplan data hub. By knowing our data is accurate, it allows us to plan more confidently. The second thing we've done is required all business critical models to be put on ALM. This helps us properly test all changes before we deploy them to production. Lastly, we've built out an internal COE management model that leverages meta data from our planning models to provide various reports of what's happening in each model. This includes having a way to more easily filter through various model histories, track user access, and flag instances where our best practices aren't being followed. We're actually in the process of taking features from our internal COE model to standup a template for our customers to use. Stay tuned!

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Occasional Contributor

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

Hi @pierre_kerkinni ,

 

this is great stuff on validation. This is not an IT control per se, but GAR always asks for it. And that's what we tell every our new project that if data has to flow between the systems there must validation. Data is not considered loaded until it's validated.  

 

Absolutely agree with you, ALM is a must as it gives you the tools to operate multiple controls and you mentioned one of them that covers Separation of Dev, Test and Prod.

 

The latter is very interesting

We've built out an internal COE management model that leverages meta data from our planning models to provide various reports of what's happening in each model. - What exactly do you mean by meta data? How do you pull it? Via API? Especially curious on how you understand how you best practices are not followed.

 

Nikita

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Occasional Contributor

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

Hi @ChrisWeiss ,

 

Thank you very much for your reply.

In Diageo we actually have a very rich experience in terms of compliance and you are describing one of the compensating controls for Segregation of Duties.

We do manage Anaplan as an IT asset though. I believe that giving the modeler keys to business makes applications explosive from many angles.

Truth be told Anaplan SOC reports do cover a lot but it's far from all. A customer has his share of compliance to adhere to as well.

 

However, if need be we can actually share our experience.

 

Thank you

 

Nikita

 

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Community Manager

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

This AMA is now closed. Thanks for your participation! Scroll down to read the questions and answers posted during our live week-long event. Want to continue the conversation? Head over to the Centers of Excellence discussion board!