Imagine your closet transformed by Marie Kondo. Marie Kondo is an organizing consultant that sparked a cultural phenomenon with her “KonMari” method of organization. Her approach is that every item should serve a purpose and spark joy. All items in a Marie Kondo-ed closet provides value. All the shirts, pants, shoes, and accessories are categorized by occasion and color. The infamous chair that once held countless days worth of shuffling clothes to find that one pair of ironed trousers is gone. You went from spending 20 minutes thinking about what to wear to 20 minutes on your entire routine. You save time and money because you learn to differentiate the essentials that make you happy and the clutter that produces anxiety.
Now imagine an Anaplan model as a closet. An Anaplan model needs to store data effectively—like a closet needs to store items effectively. If our Anaplan model is well-organized and maintained like a Marie Kondo closet, we can reallocate our time from the tedious data maintenance activities to the value-added analytics and modeling. This increase in productivity will produce results that help drive the future, bringing pride and joy into our work.
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The Marie Kondo-ed Anaplan model (A) is well organized and clear—the workflow is defined. This means the sequence of processes to achieve the business outcome is easy to understand and native to follow. Anaplan model (B) is disorganized, resembling the stockpiled chair of clothes. Consequently (B) has an unclear workflow and direction, making the data questionable.
The day starts with the CFO asking for a new report. She wants to recalculate Target Setting incorporating actuals with the forecasted information in Anaplan. Model (A) has all the Target Setting modules in one functional group. The modules are labeled specifically to the data that drives them, quickly identifying which calculations use actuals. Model builder of (A) has all the building blocks he needs to build the CFO’s report and can quickly build the report before noon so he can go home at a reasonable time today.
Model builder of (B) does not have Target Setting in a functional group. He was focused on rapidly building out the functionality and didn’t take the extra time to organize the model into sections. He now needs to comb through all the modules to locate the ones specific to Target Setting. After that, he’ll need to review all the modules to find calculations based on actuals. It’s already 5:00 p.m., and he still has three modules to comb through to consolidate his building blocks before starting the CFO’s new report.
Due to the lack of functional areas, processes are not organized by their outcomes, creating an unclear workflow. As a result, the Model builder of (B) wasted a whole day to locate and assemble the building blocks for what model builder of (A) completed in a few hours. That is the power of an Anaplan model that is clear, well-organized, and maintained—like a Marie Kondo closet.
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A Marie Kondo-ed Anaplan model is clear and organized, driving efficiency to reallocate time and create results.
When creating new models, we need to start at the highest level of planning and set standards. Like a new closet, we need to determine the sections and method of organization. You can use a top-down approach. Start with a high-level goal of the model, then break it down into main contributing variables—your functional areas. Next you can determine the building blocks of your variables—inputs, calculations, and outputs. Leading questions are how do I plan my business process and at what level of granularity?
The next step is to create standards. A few tips include:
Using precise naming conventions, choosing a format for each element of your model, and keeping it consistent across the entire model. A format is a method of organization for all the aspects that make up your model. Choose a format that utilizes your functional areas and clearly identifies the role of each aspect. It is important to have the format and naming conventions reflect model roles as accurately as possible. This will support your workflow and drive clarity throughout your model.
When creating new items, be strict and follow standard naming conventions. If we introduce new socks into a box labeled shoes, it means time added to clean up misplaced items.
Creating templates can also help centralize formatting structure and enable new items to be added more efficiently.
Using master items, such as a master filter, is a way to centralize features and avoid unnecessary duplicate work. This allows quick control over feature changes and the ability to apply changes across a mass selection rather than applying changes one by one.
Creating acronyms are a creative way to easily remember standards or follow a checklist when creating new items. PLANS—performance, logical, auditable, necessary, sustainable—is a supported Anaplan acronym that defines the standards for effective model design.
Sometimes we inherit existing models. Models that are inherited can also benefit from a Marie Kondo makeover. The first step is to express the importance of organization and standards to leadership, emphasizing how much time and money can be saved in the long term by cleaning up the model. The use of functional areas and precise naming conventions will speed up troubleshooting processes by quickly identifying root causes. Templates and master items will jump-start building enhancements to prevent you from starting at ground zero. The time spent organizing and building standards is an investment that will pay off with a more productive day-to-day and increased usage of the model.
For a Marie Kondo-ed Anaplan model to continue to be successful, organization and following standards need to be a part of daily life. Just like it is a wasted effort if you spring clean your closet once a year, it is a wasted effort if your Anaplan model is clean only for the first few months of planning. When creating new items, following naming conventions and using standard templates needs to become second nature. When this becomes a routine, there is a minimal level of effort added to maintain clear workflow and structure. To enforce the sustainability of Marie Kondo-ed Anaplan models, particularly as the number of models starts to increase, enable others. Introduce the analogy of an Anaplan model as a closet when onboarding new members—explain how a clean space equals a clean workflow, and how a clean workflow equals joy.
How do you practice cleaning up your models? Let us know in the comments below. Like what you see here? Remember to subscribe to the blog get all the latest updates!
Thandar Zone is an Anaplan Certified Model Builder and consultant at Impetus Consulting Group, an Anaplan Gold Partner. Thandar is responsible for supporting model maintenance and delivering model enhancements, focusing on high profile clients in the consumer package goods industry. Through her work with Anaplan customers, Thandar has helped execute model health reviews and implement organizational best practices and standards which promote model hygiene. Prior to Impetus, Thandar has been involved in data maintenance across various technology platforms in higher education, real estate, and start-ups. She has a B.S. in Economics from Syracuse University.