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.
Return to: Center of Excellence Resources
Jump to next: Why do I need a Center of Excellence?
What drives the need for a Center of Excellence? The need for a Center of Excellence comes after businesses have successfully implemented Anaplan into their organization and are ready to become self-sufficient in ongoing Anaplan development and support. Organizations will establish a Center of Excellence to proactively handle the increase in use cases that the company can expect in the near future. Once established, the Center of Excellence can provide the following benefits to the organization:
Many organizations will significantly grow within Anaplan after their first release. As such, they will want to maintain control of the product with the introduction of more use cases and departments in Anaplan. Creating a Center of Excellence will help organizations to maintain control of Anaplan, including the implementation of new releases and training of new users, from a centralized, internal group or team.
Establishing a Center of Excellence early will help organizations to drive consistency across Anaplan. As more data, models, and modules are created within Anaplan it’s important to ensure that everything stays consistent across the application. Doing this will help to ensure that four key elements stay consistent in Anaplan:
Data and metadata
The Center of Excellence will help drive consistency in data and metadata by eliminating duplicate data and avoiding shadow integration processes.
The Center of Excellence will help drive consistency in model design by providing best practices in model architecture, calculation, performance optimization, and usability across the different Anaplan models deployed in the organization.
The Center of Excellence promotes the consistent execution of business processes and methodologies.
The Center of Excellence drives consistency across the application for all users involved. This means that users new to Anaplan can expect nearly the same experience across each model and dashboard they interact with as they have all been developed and deployed using the same process and guidelines.
Creating a Center of Excellence promotes knowledge sharing within an organization. The Center of Excellence may ultimately be responsible for the initial and ongoing training of end users in the Anaplan platform. Additionally, the Center of Excellence may also be responsible for maintaining the processes, procedures, and best practices that the organization uses within Anaplan, which may be provided directly through the platform.
Upstream / Downstream Development
Creating and maintaining a Center of Excellence within an organization will also empower the business to develop more upstream and/or downstream processes within the Anaplan platform. For example, an organization may first deploy a T&Q model, and then decide to develop an upstream HR-based model that contains employee details and compensation data to manage their sales team. The potential to expand upstream and downstream from an initial model in Anaplan is endless.
The Center of Excellence creates a "service" for the business to become more efficient in developing, releasing, and maintaining models within Anaplan, supporting a business group to build and own its own model. This means that an organization may rely on an internal Center of Excellence as a single source to implement new applications, promote platform use, share Anaplan best practices, and handle all training needs.
Finally, a Center of Excellence provides a central point of governance for the Anaplan projects across the organization. In a centralized mode, the Center of Excellence is responsible for maintaining the platform, as well as all other necessary elements involved with the creation and maintenance of an organization’s Anaplan products. The Center of Excellence will have the final say in platform updates and developments, which further drives consistency and efficiency in Anaplan. In a federated mode, the Center of Excellence will assist local teams in their implementation and application roll out efforts as needed.
In both cases, the Center of Excellence will communicate the progress, update and value of the Anaplan applications to executive sponsors across the organization and highlight the value of the Anaplan investment.
Return to: Introduction to Centers of Excellence
Jump to next: Benefits of Establishing a Center of Excellence