Community Manager

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This month we interviewed Certified Master Anaplanner Rachel Goering, who was recently named Center of Excellence Lead of the Year, about how her certification helps her guide her team of model builders. Rachel Goering is a finance manager at DaVita Kidney Care. She joined DaVita over three years ago after several years in investment management. As a Certified Master Anaplanner for the last year and CoE leader for over two years, Rachel has connected her business acumen to technical Anaplan configuration skills to lead a team in their mission of enabling users within departments to take responsibility for their own Anaplan solutions, following a common set of modeling standards and best practices.


Rachel Goering, Finance Manager, DaVita Kidney CareRachel Goering, Finance Manager, DaVita Kidney CareTell us about yourself. What is your current role, and how do you personally use Anaplan?

Hi everyone! My name is Rachel Goering and I manage the Anaplan Center of Excellence (CoE) at DaVita. I started my Anaplan journey as a model builder within the CoE and now lead a team of five model builders. Our CoE supports 5,000 users, ~90 model builders on other teams, and 80+ production models. One of our CoE’s main responsibilities is to proactively work with finance teams and field operators to identify their planning needs and develop Anaplan reports to satisfy their requirements.

Every department has challenges. What challenges does your team typically face, and how does Anaplan help you be successful in overcoming them?

Our biggest challenges with such a large user base are communication and training new users on the tools available to them in Anaplan. In 2019, we launched a weekly training program led by subject matter experts to guide field operators through the financial tools available to them, highlighting Anaplan tips and tricks along the way. The training program has been a great way for us to communicate new model enhancements to our end-users as well.

You’re a Certified Master Anaplanner—congratulations! What helped you to achieve this great accomplishment, and how does it benefit you in your career?

Since starting at DaVita, I have had the opportunity to work on a large variety of models with different use cases and different requirements. Whenever encountering something new, I leveraged the resources provided by Anaplan to learn from the experts. Anapedia does a fantastic job of diving deep into how calculations work and providing examples so that you can add new formulas to your toolkit. The Anaplan Community was incredibly helpful in understanding how others have executed certain requirements in their models and identifying workarounds for complex implementations.

The Master Anaplanner certification allows me to provide better oversight for the models built by my team. I am able to use my knowledge to guide my team on the best way to structure models and incorporate best practices such as our favorite: D.I.S.C.O.

The Community is a great place to collaborate and learn. Based on your experience, what advice would you offer to Community members?

One of the biggest lessons we learned when building out our Center of Excellence was the importance of governance and standardization. It is important to ensure users have a consistent experience across models so that they understand how to navigate the models and get to the information they need. A standard user at DaVita has access to approximately 20 models. We don’t want them to have to attend training for each model; it should instead be straightforward and intuitive enough for them to navigate each model without training. To ensure that consistent user experience, our team put together a document of best practices that details how to build a model aligned with DaVita’s standards. All workspace administrators are required to adhere to this best practices document.

Once we rolled out Anaplan, our team was bombarded with new development requests. At first, we built everything that came to us but quickly realized that this method was unsustainable for us, as well as our users. To alleviate this pain point, we created a governance committee consisting of end-users and subject matter experts to vet any new development requests. This allowed our team to focus on the reports that would provide the biggest impact to our end-users.

"It is important to ensure users have a consistent experience across models so that they understand how to navigate the models and get to the information they need."

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You have been named the CoE Lead of the Year! How do you feel about that? Tell us about what you do with your CoE.

I am thrilled to be named CoE Lead of the Year! DaVita has put a lot of intention behind the development of its Center of Excellence, and it’s exciting to see that recognized.

In my role leading the CoE, I oversee the development and maintenance of models, adherence to model building best practices, and training for model builders and end-users. My Master Anaplanner certification helps me do these tasks efficiently and effectively.

We want to thank Rachel for her CoE insights! Do you have any questions for our Certified Master Anaplanner? Post them in the comments below.

5 Comments
Master Anaplanner/Community Boss

Congratulations @rachel_goering!

Those are some impressive numbers on users, models and the like.

Here's my question, with so many models how have you managed/are managing the transition in UX? It's certainly something we're trying finding difficult especially on accomplished models.

Certified Master Anaplanner

Great question, @andrewtye. As you can imagine, it's going to be quite the lift for our team to fully transition to the new UX and will require substantial end user feedback. Right now we are piloting our most frequently used model to obtain feedback on the new UX and the best way to implement it at DaVita. Once we have a better understanding of the change management needs associated with the transition we will put together a plan/timeline for each model conversion. We will likely wait until all models have been transitioned to the new UX before turning it on for our end users.

Master Anaplanner/Community Boss

Congratulations @rachel_goering on such an important aspect of Anaplan, the Center of Excellence. I've heard so many stories about complicated models becoming deprecated because no one can figure them out from the original modeler. What are your learnings from DaVita that have helped keep all your models healthy, supportable, and current?

Certified Master Anaplanner

Very interesting article, it's good to hear your experience. I am very impressed by the number of models!

I had a similar user base in my previous role and I understand the training challenge. I love the idea of weekly training - time permitted for people to join.

I personally had a monthly "World of Anaplan" newsletter for end-users to let them know about enhancements, and one for administrators, a bit like the extensions bulletin.

Congratulations on being CoE Lead of the Year 👍

Certified Master Anaplanner

That's a tricky one, @Jared Dolich. We try to mitigate the risk of turnover through 2 tasks: (1) putting together robust documentation for all of our more complicated model builds, and (2) building models in as uniform a format as possible. To ensure models continue to meet the needs of our users, we continually evaluate usage to determine if any models are in need of a "face lift". With over 100 model builders at DaVita, we are able to distribute model ownership so that maintaining models doesn't become an undue burden for any one team or individual.