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

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Community Manager

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

Hi @fabien.junod,

Glad to hear about the progress you’re making with your CoE, thanks for sharing your engagement model thoughts. For what it’s worth this is a common CoE setup that is working very well for many other customers, so you’re in great company! I’ve seen this exact situation approached two different ways, and would be interested to hear from you if your group has come up with any other creative solutions here.

The first solution is of course to replicate standard Versions and Bulk Copy functionality in a custom build, so that end users can activate these business processes from a Process action published on a dashboard. I’m sure you’ve considered this, and there are lots of reasons many customers don’t take this approach based on their specific situation (and of course we recommend using standard functionality wherever possible).

The second solution that I see customers land on more often, is identifying at least one model builder in each group who would have admin rights. If your concern about providing admin rights is around access issues, it’s worth looking into ways to use Anaplan itself to help you manage what your admins are up to (think Tenant Administration, splitting models across multiple workspaces, reviewing model histories for user audits, general offline governance approaches/expectations among your team, etc.). And we’re also piloting a broader CoE solution based on how our Anaplan-on-Anaplan team manages this issue, if you aren't already involved please let us know if you’d like to be included or otherwise keep an eye out here for updates from us and @pierre_kerkinni.

Otherwise, if your concern is around the cost implication, I recommend front-loading the effort of ensuring exponential value that the group will be gaining from this investment (beyond just the ability to bulk copy). For example, while these power users within the business units are collecting enhancement requests, can they also be responsible for quickly building lower complexity items within guardrails set by the CoE, and does that increase the speed to value for that group? Can they serve in a “part-time” role on your CoE (say 20%) and act as the model builders on implementations for their business group to help prioritize the needs of their team and ensure resourcing constraints don’t slow the CoE down?

To get to your point, I fundamentally agree with you and believe that the business SHOULD own these tasks, and the job of the CoE is to remove any barriers preventing that from happening (for example cost/business justification, user audits, and/or admin enablement and expectation-setting). We all know the time invested in these activities is far more valuable than time spent owning the model maintenance tasks, even if at first they both take the same amount of time.

Hope that helps, let me know if you'd like me to go into more details on any of these ideas, and good luck with the next step of your CoE!

-Chris Weiss
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Certified Master Anaplanner

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

@Tiffany.Rice @ChrisWeiss @Beauram 

 

The topic of COE's being the drivers of their organization's connected planning journey is a really interesting one. In my experience I don't often see the backlog "dry up" after a few models are in production - it is often the opposite. If the value of these models can be demonstrated across the organization, new business units and functional areas will start lining up at the opportunity to get into Anaplan. At that point it often becomes a prioritization effort in which many important factors need to be considered.

 

At Cervello we think about this prioritization effort in two phases. The first is a scoring exercise in which all potential use cases are scored against a series of measures (e.g. business impact, data readiness, etc). This exercise will help segregate the near-term use cases from the mid-term and long-term use cases. From there, creating the time-phased road map is dependent on additional factors such as key planning milestones and process dependencies. 

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Community Manager

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

Hi @Tiffany.Rice,

Passing along a direct response from Ashley Stevens, CoE Leader at Aviva, who had this to say on your excellent topic. As you can tell from the number of replies on this question, you really hit a nerve in terms of something that is very top of mind for CoEs these days!

"I don’t think you ever fully enter maintenance mode. The Anaplan transformation journey to get to a connected planning end state is ever evolving: bringing in new areas, rebuilding legacy models, adopting the NUX, etc....

The key transition for us was moving beyond a reactive approach where projects were initiated by end users (generally following a conversation with Anaplan) to shaping our own strategic roadmap. All current / pipeline activity is focused on moving us closer to a connected planning end state as well as revisiting legacy models to ensure best in class solution. Key to doing this successfully is having the right roles and responsibilities in the team to ensure we deliver end to end transformation: Data / Solution Architect owning the roadmap, Process Engineers designing the E2E solution, Model Builders, BAU Maintenance Analysts, Governance Lead - and using third parties to augment these skills where appropriate.
 
Hope this helps.
 
Kind regards,
 
Ashley"
-Chris Weiss
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Certified Master Anaplanner

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

Thanks for the insights! Exciting to hear about the evolution of other CoEs as we look to grow our own.
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Certified Master Anaplanner

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

Hi Chris,

 

Should model building be with business or IT?

 

As organisation start using Anaplan as an enterprise planning platform, there should be expert architects and model builders to envision the larger picture, scalability and usability of functionalities developed in Anaplan. Encryption, security, access management, automation becomes the priority. Often, business users come with 2-3 years of total experience and lack application knowledge and domain/functional expertise to design a solution. What is Anaplan's guidance to customers building world class planning platform?

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Community Manager

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

Hi @LokeshNandula,

Thanks for bringing up the contrasting roles of business and IT, this something I’m asked very frequently and realistically the answer is slightly different for every customer.

I’ll start with the most common answer, that Anaplan is meant to be a business-owned planning platform, which leverages Excel-like formula syntax to shorten the learning curve as business users transition from planning in spreadsheets to Connected Planning. The benefits of the business owning Anaplan is that they are the most qualified to ensure that Anaplan directly addresses their planning needs, and can be responsible for adjustments to the system as their planning environment remains fluid and flexible. Or from another angle, most IT teams don’t want to receive a support ticket every time a business user needs to make a slight adjustment to their planning or forecasting process (which would happen weekly, if not daily in some cases!).

That said, you’re absolutely right that most business owners are not experienced in managing and architecting a scalable, enterprise-grade cloud platform. This is a new skill for many of them, which is why we are investing so heavily in providing these resources around how they should manage their CoE (and of course we know we still have a long way to go here!). The benefit to IT playing a role here is in sharing common best practices in software management that apply across all technologies, regardless of how flexible or intuitive they are to learn. In other words, most business users don’t have a decade of experience designing Software Development Lifecycles to migrate new functionalities from a development sandbox to a production environment, and we certainly don’t want to discredit the in-house expertise that the IT team already has in this area.

Every CoE should have representatives from both the business and IT in order to ensure a successful holistic Anaplan implementation. We like to recommend a “best of both” world where IT owns software-related elements that are technology-agnostic (integrations, data management, documentation, etc), where the business owns planning processes, model building, and dashboard design. There are more details about this breakdown on our Roles & Responsibilities article (3rd graphic from the top).

That said, this exact breakdown is different for every company. You may find a great deal of success having your Certified Master Anaplanners (or global solution architects) located in IT due to their expertise in developing scalable enterprise-grade solutions. Or your entire team may be located within the business, with occasional requests over to your IT team for occasional data feed updates, and learning the new skill of enterprise solution architecture to build the best Anaplan models.

The thing that is most important is that for your company, your CoE needs to maintain a strong relationship across both groups. And isn’t that the whole point of a CoE anyway? Breaking down corporate silos of traditional planning? Why not start here, breaking down the silos between IT and Business!

Hope that helps, definitely curious to hear your views and from others who are struggling with similar dilemmas!

-Chris Weiss
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Certified Master Anaplanner

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

@ChrisWeiss Thanks for detailed answer. We are defining roles, responsibilities & skillset for Anaplan COE and its always challenging when model building is owned by business. Customers look upto Anaplan for guidance and it would be helpful if the skillsets are defined for model building & architect roles. 

 

We come across many Anaplan model builders and architects (including some master anaplanners) with only 2-3 years of overall experience. They lack below skills which are mastered with 7-10 years of project delivery experience. These skills are necessary for successfully delivering enterprise level projects. We don't find these skills in business users and experimenting with them is risky for large projects.

 

1) Experience running large projects at enterprise level

2) Experience in designing, developing solutions in legacy planning tools like SAP BPC, Hyperion, Cognos

3) Experience in converting business requirements into scalable technical solutions

4) Experience in MDM (Master Data Management)

5) Experience in creating dashbords or ad-hoc reports in Tableau, BOBJ etc

6) Understand the difference between meta data & transaction data

7) Experience in setting up hierarchies

😎 Experience handling sensitive and non-sensitive data

9) Functional & domain experience

10) Experience in leading requirement gathering sessions

11) Experience in documenting business process

12) Experience in articulating data requirements, data granularity, data flow

13) Experience in managing enterprise level projects (say 30+ team members, >$2 million initiatives)

14) Experience in sizing, scaling & looking at big picture (support & maintenance issues etc)

15) Experience in interviewing, selecting right candidates for model building

 

As always, looking for your thoughts and valuable guidance here.

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Community Manager

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

Hi @LokeshNandula,

Great points, it's very helpful that you've outlined this thorough list here!

I think you're absolutely right. If these are the required skillsets for your company in managing your Anaplan footprint, it should absolutely be heavily dependent on IT resources and/or an implementation consulting partner. We're in agreement that these skills would be very rare to find within the business, and in this case the business would still of course play a critical role in providing user stories/business requirements as well as feedback on your implementations.

That said, I think many Anaplan customers are not quite looking for that level of expertise in managing their planning applications in Anaplan, especially at first. I know you all are doing some very big and exciting things with Anaplan, so your situation is unique, but also we can point to just as many examples of finance or other business users accomplishing complex technical requirements in Anaplan on their own.

Either way, this will of course vary customer to customer, and you're absolutely doing the right thing for what your company needs, and if other companies have similar needs they will probably skew more towards IT-reliance than being entirely business-owned, I'm just not sure exactly what percentage of customers fall into your same category here.

Thanks again for putting together these exhaustive list, excellent resource to be added to the CoE resource library!

 

-Chris Weiss
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Certified Master Anaplanner

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

@ChrisWeiss Thanks to you and team for the excellent support and partnership in our Anaplan journey.

 

Thanks to the CoE deck, we are setting up a CoE. The CoE is a mix of both business & IT users. We hired/hiring master anaplanners on both business and IT side. We are also on-boarding implementation consulting partner. The overall guidance will be from Anaplan's summit success resources (senior architects). We are betting heavily on Anaplan and hope to see some successful projects in 2020. 

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Certified Master Anaplanner

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

Hi @LokeshNandula 

 

Nice to e-meet you. Your question is a great one and I echo all the points @ChrisWeiss has already mentioned. Hopefully I can help provide some answers based on my experience. A little about myself first - I am a Master Anaplanner and lead the Anaplan COE team at Groupon where we have 20+ use cases across our finance function and just beginning to expand outside finance into sales and HR via incentive compensation management. Groupon was an early customer with our first implementation in 2013 and our Anaplan environment has been on explosive growth since then. I attribute our quick growth and success to 3 things: Anaplan’s powerful platform, executive leadership buy-in, and a strong internal COE team that is owned by our finance function.

 

A little more about my 3 COE team members. All have a finance background and most have very light previous technical or systems experience. All 3 spend 100% of their time on Anaplan model building (whether that’s model maintenance, building new cases, managing projects, training/supporting our federated/non-COE model builders, etc.).

 

I understand your point that professionals sitting within the IT function with many years of experience will typically check all those boxes you’ve laid out and will be better equipped for ownership over certain systems. However, in my experience, Anaplan is different. The true power in the system lies with the fact that it can be a function-owned (or business-owned) tool. I've also found that the model building learning curve in Anaplan isn't as steep as other systems.

 

That said, it’s not as simple as giving a bunch of finance (or insert your business function) professionals model builder licenses and expecting them to be experts in Anaplan model building, understand key project management skills, learn complicated data integrations, etc. while keeping their day job. A COE team with dedicated team members whose sole job is driving the Anaplan vision at your company forward is fundamental to your success. At Groupon, having that COE sit directly within the function as well has been extremely successful.

 

In my opinion, here are the top reasons we've been successful with our current structure: 

  • The COE team members understand finance AND the Anaplan system. They can speak the language of our “customers” (finance team members) and also have the technical expertise to drive the right solution in the tool. Very powerful combination.
  • For the COE team, Anaplan is their only job. They have the time/bandwidth to learn best practices, become experts in functions, learn data integrations, etc. which allows them to ensure everything we’re doing with Anaplan at Groupon is best-in-class. It's a fundamental part of their job.
  • COE team can respond to requests very quickly when needed. Sometimes with a big IT function owning a tool, the time to deliver updates/changes can be too long for a fast moving business. Our COE team has clear direction from our finance leadership on when things need to be turned around and there’s no competing for IT resources.
  • We have recruited the right talent to be on the COE team. These team members do not need to have 10+ years of systems and technical experience, but they do need to show a strong desire to learn Anaplan and other tools that enable it (e.g. ETL tools). They are expected to learn the technical side, have a desire to improve processes, have an analytical mind, lead projects, and the list goes on… It’s critical to find the right people for your COE and the right person leading it.
  • We have always worked with an Anaplan certified consulting partner. Groupon partners with Impetus Consulting Group and we’ve had tremendous success with them. They understand our needs, fill the technical expertise gap when there is one, help us execute faster, etc. A partner who’s “been there, done that” with other customers and already knows what to watch out for is very powerful.

Hope this helps give you an example of a success story with Anaplan owned within a function. Happy to answer any other questions you have.

 

--Megan