The Three Duties of an Anaplan Project Team

Certified Master Anaplanner

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The term “duties” is a connotation to the lifeblood of a project. These are the necessary actions that will keep a project from being either an immediate failure or a ticking time bomb. Consider them the goals, the vision, and the survival requirements of any software implementation. Without achieving these, a project cannot reach its prescribed targets for success or long-term effectiveness.

The duties of a project team are parallels of short, medium, and long-term success criteria.

In the short term, end-user adoption is critical. No user satisfaction, no effective change management, and you might as well wave goodbye to any efficiency and cost savings you might have achieved.

Medium-term, the project’s inputs must be justified with measurable outputs. This involves some aspect of an ROI analysis, which allows executive stakeholders to rationalize any monetary and labor commitments required by the new software.

Beyond that, a new software development initiative must be capable of being supported by the future IT or functional systems team. Without the talent to maintain, grow, and support the software’s organizational impact, end users will inevitably become frustrated, and system architecture will begin to deteriorate along with any potential cost savings.

In short, here are the three duties of the project implementation team:

  1. Satisfy the concerns and pain points of the future end users.
  2. Satisfy the concerns and pain points of the executive stakeholders.
  3. Satisfy the concerns and pain points of the internal systems team.

This is not a complicated recipe for sustainable success, yet one or more of these duties are so regularly overlooked at some point during the span of a project. And this is not a “one or two-out-of-three will still get us there” situation. These are your essential duties as a member of the project team. All three must be satisfied, or the project will inevitably fail.

How to Become a Project Superstar

Repeat after me:

“End users, executives, systems team.”

“End users, executives, systems team.”

“End users, executives, systems team.”

Memorize this. Make it your mantra. Stare at this diagram if you are a visual learner:

Diagram.jpg

Internalize these duties, and your chances of success will greatly multiply.

Tips for Project Mastery

Here are some quick suggestions for mastering your end-user satisfaction and change management:

  • Involve users regularly during project development. Do not save testing for the end of a project, or you will certainly miss key call-outs and reporting requirements.
  • Design your training material drafts as you complete each phase of a project. This will provide a sanity check for your product’s navigability and user-friendliness, while also ensuring your initial user support has received ample attention.
  • Schedule weekly feedback sessions in the early months after go-live. You may decrease to monthly sessions, but never more infrequent, as users become familiar with the new product.
  • Create a professional email template and send regular communications to users. Include training tips, new developments/updates, and bug fixes. Few companies are doing this, but this is a huge way to bring your users on board with a new process.

What about your executive stakeholder requirements (i.e. the people funding the project)?

  • Decide on ROI metrics as part of the initial project scope and set checkpoints throughout the build. This will ensure the project does not derail from its original cost-saving/efficiency gaining objectives.
  • Assign dollar value estimates to your ROI metrics and compare with the overall project budget. This will provide the rationale that your company is getting what it’s paying for. Examples include:
    • (Labor hours saved through efficiency gains) x (Average hourly rate).
    • Incremental revenue from increased accuracy of sales quotas.
    • Projected savings from enhanced spending visibility.
  • Make sure your final product includes a mechanism for tracking cost savings/efficiency gains into the indefinite future. Too many project teams leave themselves no method for proving the worth of their final product.

And do not forget about the IT or systems support team:

  • Immediately train internal employees to lessen the future learning curve, especially if a consultant was brought in to handle a bulk of the project design and build.
  • Urgently begin the hiring process or convert existing employee roles if new staff is needed. Anaplan talent is part of a tight market, and existing employees may prove more difficult than anticipated to convert to new responsibilities.
  • Leave your support plan flexible as the project progresses. This allows a greater margin of error if internal resources are not prepared to take over after go-live.
  • Partner with a consultant that will give you the support your business needs (i.e. flexible scheduling, no minimum commitment, proven track record of development excellence).

In Summary

All aspects of a project must equally account for its end-user group, executive stakeholders, and product support team. The mission, vision, and goals for any project must be written to alleviate the current struggles of each of these company workforce subsets.

At any point during an implementation cycle, one of these groups poses the greatest threat to a product’s longevity:

Time after Go-Live

Most Immediate Threat of Derailment

Short-term

End users

Medium-term

Executive stakeholders

Long-term

IT/System support team


You have an obligation–a duty–to satisfy the needs of all three groups. This is your calling as a project team member. Focus on each group with the critical attention it deserves. Plan for the challenges each will present. Your projects will flow smoother, and your business will grow stronger. What works for you and your team? Tell me about your successes in the comments below. 


Profile_Blog_Anaplan.jpgDavid Edwards is a Certified Master Anaplanner and lead developer at Keurig Dr Pepper. He is also the founder of David Edwards Consulting, which helps clients achieve a higher level of Anaplan excellence and flexible support to meet their unique business needs. He has over four years of building and implementation experience with the platform, and he believes Anaplan will be THE solution that allows companies to achieve Connected Planning excellence.