[Start Here] Application Lifecycle Management–Part 1: The basics

While building in Anaplan, have you ever wondered how to make model building more efficient, stable for your end-users, and increase control over access rights and changes to model structure? Then you may think, how do I have that much structural control but still be agile enough to make quick modifications to my apps and pages? Finally, you may worry that this will be hard to maintain without automation. 

Good news! With Anaplan's combined Application LifeCycle Management (ALM) features, this is all possible.  

Have we piqued your interest? To learn more about how ALM works at Anaplan, let's start with Part 1: The Basics.

What is Application Lifecycle Management (ALM)?

Anaplan's combined ALM functionality allows you to control the development, testing, deployment, and ongoing maintenance of your models and applications. It will enable you to introduce changes without disrupting business operations, securely manage apps, and make scheduled updates across different models and workspaces.

In addition, the combined ALM allows you to:

Benefit

Why that is important

Build in a stand-alone model that does not interrupt your end-users

No more accidental changes rolling out before they are ready

Create consistent "release" cycles that match your planning cadence

No need to stop development for future changes, even during peak planning periods

Vigorously test your changes with key stakeholders and with "real" data before releasing it to the rest of your end-users

No more blind updates without being able to test to full impact on end-users

Bundle changes and deploy quickly across one or multiple related models

No need to reproduce changes in your live/production

Publish look and feel enhancements separately from structural changes

No need to wait to release simple enhancements like changing chart colors, rearranging page layouts, adding card filters, or adding grid cards from existing modules

Lock your live / production models from structural changes while still allowing for updates to selected data and metadata

No more unintended structural changes that could impact end-users, but still keeping the flexibility to update frequently evolving data and metadata

Have Users act as a model builder in one workspace to perform development activities and a standard end-user in the live/ production model in a separate workspace

No need to worry about maintaining the required segregation of duties across the platform. 

Perform automated/scheduled synchronizations during off-peak hours via APIs

No needs to log in outside peak work hours to make updates to test and production models AND
No more need to have individual workspace admins triggering ALM synchronizations

 

Pull detailed change logs to retain for your audit history

No unhappy audit and compliance teams

 

Who is it for and why?

Three key personas will benefit most from the ALM, and one optional persona:

  • Model builders, who will design and make structural model changes, test the results with key stakeholders and deploy vetted changes to the end-users. ALM allows them to execute these changes in bulk, allowing them to focus on continued development and not replicating structural changes.
  • User interface designer, who designs and updates the UX apps and pages to improve the end-user interactions and journey within the Anaplan platform. By separating the structural changes from the User Experience changes, Page Builders can maintain flexibility to respond to end-user requests while still allowing for greater control of structural changes.
  • CoE Lead, will establish a suitable governance structure for their Model Builders, User Interface Designers, and optional Integration Admins. ALM allows the COE Lead to control release and development schedules and respond to security and compliance requests.
  • [Optional] Integration Admin, will set up the automation and scheduling of the ALM APIs. These APIs will be used to help enforce governance, and reduce the demands on the model builders.

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Use case examples

ALM has a wide range of use cases and can be helpful for any line of business. Below are just a couple of examples of how some organizations may leverage it.

  • Global retail supply chain forecasting: The ability to break workspaces and models into natural breaks in an organization's structure is critical to maintain appropriate access and streamline end-user experience but can introduce complexity in synchronizing updates across the models.  With ALM, model builders can make changes to one centralized development model and synchronize across all the related models quickly and efficiently, allowing for the same structure to be used across multiple models. In addition, integration Admins can use ALM APIs to coordinate and schedule the deployment of changes from the core development model to automate these updates. 
  • Software sales incentive compensation planning: At many companies, incentive compensation plans are frequently redesigned to capture changing team structure or market trends.  While this design work is being planned, sales teams' performance tracking and variable pay still rely on the existing plans. Using ALM, the model-building team can design for the future, test the result against the current data to confirm how the changes will affect the potential payouts, and deploy the changes when the time is right. All while maintaining the existing compensation plan in the live environment to avoid disruption to the plans or payouts. 

Guidelines and considerations

As you consider using Anaplan's ALM, please review the recommendations in this article, What is Application Lifecycle Management (ALM)?

Just like in life, there are tradeoffs between control and flexibility. ALM is no different.  However, while you will not be able to make structural changes on the fly to your production environment, you will gain more stability, better testing, and increased audit tracking.

Part 2: Get started

Ready to begin using ALM in your Anaplan Environment?  Read these articles to learn more.

  1. ALM Explained Part 1 - Compatibility
  2. ALM Explained Part 2 - Testing
  3. ALM Explained Part 3 - Avoiding data loss

Additionally, take this micro-lesson and this e-learning class.

You can also watch this video for a comprehensive step-by-step overview.

And for the user experience, make sure you are leveraging our recommended ALM Best Practices for Apps.

 

Finally, to learn more about how to automate ALM in Anaplan, check out this guide for ALM APIs [Link coming soon].

 

For some additional information, you can review the following articles:

  1. Setting production lists
  2. Version settings as production data
  3. Production lists and ragged hierarchies' logic
  4. Revision best practices
  5. Managing frequent structural changes during development
  6. Model load, save and rollback
  7. Save incomplete changes when synchronizing in ALM

Ready to get started?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

The content in this article has not been evaluated for all Anaplan implementations and may not be recommended for your specific situation.
Please consult your internal administrators prior to applying any of the ideas or steps in this article.
Comments

Thank you for the great details!

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