Planning for the CoE begins up front. Begin to think in terms of what a CoE means to the business and how to make sure some of the first steps in the project are completed in a way that sets a CoE in place.
Follow these steps in the Foundation phase to establish a CoE:
Include a data hub in the model design.
Document the business processes.
Document the model logic and business rules. Store these in a central location for easy access by all members of the CoE. Include:
Model data flow (model map)
Technical ecosystem topology
As you begin building, the customer needs to establish (with your help) the following:
Model help desk
Return on Investment (ROI) study methodology
Also needed for a CoE:
Determine testing practices
Select a triage team
Create a triage process
Establish requirement and defect definitions
Build a user community that will help with adoption and usability. Identify local champions.
Maintain or establish executive sponsorship
Create a communication process that provides executives with updates
Create a common portal for all things related to Anaplan
Create a process for deciding which models to build
Establish a model review and upgrade process
While this may seem overwhelming, a successful CoE can be run with a single model builder. Just be sure to set up your first model with an eye toward expanding by using a data hub. Build a portal for shared documents/best practices. Establish a help desk – this is probably you if you are the only model builder! Reach out to the IT department and get their support and determine if it is possible for them to provide the first line of user support. Determine the key processes you need to establish for the CoE and get those in place. Now you have a structure in place that can handle additional model builders. Staff can be added as the number of Anaplan models grows.
In use cases which require a global deployment, (frequent in Sales Performance Management or SPM use cases) Anaplan recommends a centralized team of modelers. Centralization ensures everyone follows best practices, respects naming conventions, avoids duplication, and optimizes integration between models. These types of use cases often have a data hub at the center of the architecture.
Other use cases, for example Finance or Marketing, are owned by the business. In that case, CoE and model builders report in to the business.
In some large deployments involving multiple departments or business areas, the IT department owns the relationship with Anaplan. IT owns the model building activity, the CoE and serves the business. In this configuration, IT should have very open contact between the business and the Anaplan team so that they are aware of business changes and product updates.
For some deployments, IT is involved with data integration and authentication and is not involved in model building or the CoE. In these cases, the business owns the model building activity, and they run their requests for data through IT.
There may be some businesses who have little to no desire to house this type of function internally, instead choosing to form a relationship with Anaplan or an Anaplan partner who will provide a Center of Excellence. While this may meet the needs of the business, care must be taken to ensure consistency as staff rolls on and off, or staffing priorities shift.
Over time, businesses want to be self-sufficient. This means they can build and expand the platform largely on their own or with some help. In order to accomplish this, customers create a Center of Excellence (CoE) or perhaps, more simply, a Competency Center. A CoE can start small – some companies have just one person in their Anaplan Center of Excellence – and grow to the size needed in the company, as the number of use cases increases. Setting up the structure for a CoE early in the first project helps the customer to learn model building and The Anaplan Way (Agile) methodology from Anaplan or partners.
Establishing a CoE provides multiple benefits to the business:
Maximize their Anaplan investment and adoption through the business
Consistency in the following:
Model design quality
Execution of business processes/methodologies
User experience, especially when users span multiple models
Provides a service in the business that has a holistic view of all the business processes and how Anaplan can connect all those processes
Repeatable, faster “time to market” models for the business
Central control with local flexibility
Some additional areas for the business to think about include becoming an active member of the Anaplan community and eventually, growing the CoE so that it can provide additional staff with the training needed to build models and use The Anaplan Way (Agile) methodology so that other departments and areas can use Anaplan.