What Is a Center of Excellence and Why Are We Talking about Them?
When talking about Connected Planning, the technology enabler is often at the forefront of the conversation. However, without connected people and a strong governing force, Connected Planning can easily devolve back into the disjointed siloed planning that is the familiar default of the planning landscape.
A Center of Excellence is the prerequisite for moving from chaotic to Connected Planning.
A Center of Excellence is the foundation needed to ensure successful utilization of the Anaplan platform to enable true Connected Planning. At its core, a Center of Excellence is a centralized governing body dedicated to ensuring scalable and successful implementation of Anaplan to execute on strategic objectives and achieve desired business outcomes.
What is a Center of Excellence?
A team that Promotes, Shares, and Collaborates on a specific technical focus area, to efficiently and effectively Achieve Business Objectives, with the goals of maximizing return on investment (ROI), standardizing around Best Practices, and facilitating Shared Knowledge.
It’s more than just realizing the full value of the cost spent on Anaplan licenses, the purpose of a Center of Excellence is to ensure transformational business planning is fully realized and self-sustaining. Any organization that hopes to achieve a measurable ROI and maximize the full potential of the Anaplan platform must invest in a committed group of professionals to support and facilitate the success of the platform.
An Anaplan-specific Center of Excellence connects relevant business needs with actionable outcomes.
What Is the Path to Creating a Center of Excellence?
Similar to your first Anaplan implementation, a Center of Excellence should start small. Like the agile approach taken to implement a model, building a Center of Excellence should be implemented quickly and provide a short time-to-value, while being intentional to create a solid foundation on which the Center of Excellence will continue to grow and develop over time. The first step is to identify either the components of the Center of Excellence that are the most critical or urgent, or the parts that will immediately relieve the most pain.
Start by prioritizing your Center of Excellence components.
Once the first one or two components of the Center of Excellence are determined, and an ideal end state for those components are well-defined, a roadmap to fully develop the Center of Excellence should be created. This roadmap should align with the organization’s culture in which the Center of Excellence will exist. Here is a detailed breakdown of the individual steps needed to establish most typical Centers of Excellence.
Then, chart the development of your Center of Excellence.
With a plan in hand, the next step is to identify the initial members of the organization who should be included in first iteration of the Center of Excellence. For an Anaplan Center of Excellence, the size of the group should always be consistent with the size of the current Anaplan footprint. For companies with one or two small use cases deployed to production models serving a few dozen end users, the Center of Excellence doesn’t need to be larger than a few individuals dedicated to supporting the models, with only a Chief Planning Officer (Executive Sponsor) and Master Anaplanner (Solution Architect) officially serving in Center of Excellence roles. As the Anaplan footprint grows, the dedicated team should grow proportionally to fill out a full-fledged Center of Excellence. Here’s an example of what you can expect while developing your Center of Excellence based on one successful customer’s journey.
Most importantly, ensure your core backbone is in place to sustain growth.
Once there is a clear need for a Center of Excellence, a prioritized list of Center of Excellence components to develop, a road map for how to implement them, and a team in place to be responsible for the work, the next step is to define the team’s governance and bring the team together at a regularly-scheduled cadence to begin working on realizing the vision of the Center of Excellence.
Follow these next steps to build your Center of Excellence.