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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: 1. Maintain control 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. 2. Consistency 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.  Model design 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.  Processes The Center of Excellence promotes the consistent execution of business processes and methodologies. User experience 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. 3. Knowledge sharing 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. 4. 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. 5. Efficiency 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.  6. Governance 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 rollout 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.
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An Anaplan customer’s journey The diagram below displays a real world example of an Anaplan customer’s journey. As you can see, the customer’s journey begins with the implementation and deployment of one app in the Anaplan platform, and only two resources involved. Soon after, the organization develops and deploys more apps and includes more resources with each release. Simultaneously, the organization realizes that Anaplan is the platform solution they’ve required and they begin supporting the platform with governance, processes, training, and more through a Center of Excellence to ensure its success. The three phases of developing a Center of Excellence To get each organization to this point, a Center of Excellence should be established with three phases of deployment: Phase 1: Foundations Phase 2: Centralize Phase 3: Scale The following sections provide the steps that are necessary to complete each phase of developing a  Center of Excellence : Phase 1: Foundations Deploy the first project successfully Phase 1 of deploying a  Center of Excellence starts with successfully deploying the first project/release in the Anaplan platform. Doing this established the foundation needed to start building the  Center of Excellence . Establish the governing body Next, it’s important to establish the governing body, or steering committee within the organization. This initial team should feature three key members: Executive or Project Sponsor This role must be a neutral party that is invested in the success of Anaplan, but not aligned with a specific use case. This person will ultimately have the final approval in prioritizing sprints and releases for the business. Anaplan Architect The Anaplan Architect speaks for the Anaplan administrative team and demonstrates new model changes upon release. Additionally, this role advises on new modeling time requests and project planning when necessary. Center of Excellence Lead The  Center of Excellence Lead oversees the  Center of Excellence and organizes the monthly  Center of Excellence update. Establish your governance Once the governing body of the  Center of Excellence has been selected, the Monthly  Center of Excellence Update and Quarterly Strategy Update meetings must be established: Monthly  Center of Excellence Update: This meeting is organized by the  Center of Excellence Lead Attendance includes: Executive Sponsors Product Owners Project Architects Center of Excellence Lead, Architect, and Advisor Business Transformation Leads (optional) Meeting minutes and follow up are to be documented and delivered by the  Center of Excellence Lead Once complete, the meeting minutes and action items with responsible parties should be posted for the team by the  Center of Excellence  Lead Quarterly Strategy Update The Quarterly Strategy Update should occur on the same day and at the same location as the applicable Monthly  Center of Excellence Update meeting Again, this meeting is organized by the  Center of Excellence Lead Attendance includes: Executive Sponsors Product Owners Project Architects Center of Excellence  Lead, Architect, and Advisor Business Transformation Leads Meeting minutes and follow up are to be documented and delivered by the  Center of Excellence Lead The content of this meeting should include: Strategy updates by the Executive Sponsors Roadmap updates Key demonstration/s Once complete, the meeting minutes and action items with responsible parties should be posted for the team by the  Center of Excellence Lead Designate/hire the delivery team Next, the organization should designate and/or hire the delivery team, which is initially comprised of the following members: Soultions Architect (SA) This role is an experienced Anaplan Architect that is responsible for guiding the delivery team using design and data management best practices. Model Builders Model Builders are responsible for producing new builds within planned timelines. The number of Model Builders may vary depending on the release demands. Establish the sprint cadence The final step of Phase 1 is to establish the cadence of sprints for future releases in the organization. To do this, institute the following: Daily standup meetings Two week sprint cycles Sprint review with the governing body – one hour every two weeks During this review, the most recent functionality built should be reviewed (15m-30m), as well as a sprint retrospective that covers “What went well?” and “What didn’t go so well?” Sprint planning – one hour every two weeks During this meeting, all user stories from the backlog are reviewed and allocated into the next sprints based on priority and group agreement (45m) Phase 2: Centralize Phase 2 begins when the  Center of Excellence enters into the following: Multi-use-case configuration with integration points between processes within Anaplan The business wants a model delivery service as they cannot own model development The business wants to own model delivery and needs to be ramped up Many departments within the business want to leverage the Anaplan platform, and consistency and standardization is as important as agility and flexibility for business Data governance becomes critical Establish data governance The first step of Phase 2 starts with establishing governance in the  Center of Excellence . This includes: Electing an official Core IT point of contact for all planning processes Building the Master Data Hub Setting the data refresh frequency Hierarchy and data validation Centralizing user provisioning Managing Admin licenses Establish Functional Representatives in business Represent their functional areas for new project requests Provide feedback on recently completed model Designate a Central Solutions Architect Once designated, the Central Solutions Architect will be in charge of: All central maintenance Providing status updates to Executive/Project Sponsors Managing new model requests Communicating changes to the master model to the broader community Reviewing all citizen built models once per month and advising on best practices Ensuring all citizen developers have taking Anaplan training prior to developing Create a team of model builders - Options Junior resources out of college – trained and ramped up Outsourced to an Anaplan partner Taken from IT resources, if available Reports to the Central Architect If there is a need of a ”Business Service” central entity for Anaplan Establish a process for creating a new model The business team submits the request with business justification to central the  Center of Excellence Prioritization and validation: Is it part of corporate strategy? Global (IT) or Specific (Business)  Scoping agreement on both data hub and model Model sizing Use existing workspace / Get a new workspace Project resource requirement and alignments Can it be delivered as federated team? Can it be delivered by the central team? Execution governance Include the new project to the daily/monthly/quarterly governance Phase 3: Scale Once the  Center of Excellence is established in Phases 1 and 2, it may then be scaled to gain more attention within the business, and enable new users to work and build inside of the Anaplan platform. Phase 3 begins when the  Center of Excellence enters into the following: 5+ planning use cases built on Anaplan, integrated or not Anaplan has been communicated internally by the Global CIO, as the Platform to use for any planning application. High visibility of Planning apps execution management teams Need to hire more resources internally or externally in  Center of Excellence team or in business federated teams Attract Increase internal PR Provide frequent communication & evangelism of the Anaplan platform Produce newsletters and regular executive communications Demonstrate alignment to corporate strategy Have leadership publically celebrate small wins Define internal career paths Highlight growing external marketplace Enable Enable new users to utilize the Anaplan platform by providing the following: Leverage Anaplan training using classroom and on-demand resources Train during implementation and continue to offer training on an ongoing basis Develop internal materials specific to business outcomes & implementation Stay current on new functionality through an Early Adopter program Refresh the team’s knowledge through regularly updated Anaplan Enablement courses  
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The components involved in a Center of Excellence combine to promote self-sufficiency within a business. This may start as early as a business’ first release, and can continue on throughout each new release. There are eight key components that each business should expect to benefit from with the establishment of a Center of Excellence:       1. Skills and expertise The Center of Excellence provides an entire organization with the skills and expertise needed to develop the Anaplan platform within the business and provide training to the team. It creates functional Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), provides solution design, architecting, and technical model building skills, and offers project management capabilities. Furthermore, it provides ongoing training for an organization, including instructor lead (classroom) training and on-demand eLearning courses.      2. An implementation approach The Center of Excellence creates a known and understood approach to delivering and evolving solutions within Anaplan for an organization. Utilizing the benefits of the Anaplan Way Agile methodology, a  Center of Excellence encourages collaboration between all parties involved with the Anaplan platform, successful iterations of new and updated releases, and accurate visualization of each project and release.   3. Direction and governance The  Center of Excellence creates a governance framework that is used to steer and prioritize the Anaplan roadmap within an organization and drive the ROI of each release. This includes identifying an organization’s steering committee, executive sponsors, and the sign-off/approval approach and process. The  Center of Excellence may also act as the project management office (PMO), which is attached to each release.   4. Data governance and integration Establishing a  Center of Excellence helps to utilize the Master Data Hub concept within an organization. The  Center of Excellence will generally be responsible for the Master Data Hub, which will feed into most, if not all, models within the organization. Doing this creates a single point of data reference within the organization for all departments and regions to refer to. Also, the  Center of Excellence provides adherence to conventions, policies, and corporate definitions that are used with the Anaplan platform.   5. Access to knowledge and best practices The  Center of Excellence is responsible for providing a knowledge base and internal community to support an organization’s efforts in Anaplan. These internal resources should provide functional use case and technical model building best practices, as well as a shared practical knowledge surrounding the platform and the organization’s specific use within.   6. An Anaplan "savvy" The  Center of Excellence constantly holds an awareness of the "power of the platform." This awareness includes what the platform is currently doing for the organization and what it could be used for in the future with platform updates and improvements in mind. Additionally, the  Center of Excellence maintains a practical understanding of the Anaplan App Hub and how Apps can be leveraged for rapid prototyping and deployment of releases.   7. Access to Support The  Center of Excellence acts as a 24/7 customer support desk for the organization, and offers customized support when necessary.   8. Change Management The  Center of Excellence provides a support system to handle all change management surrounding the Anaplan platform. This includes clear and appropriate communications to drive and support user adoption, and alignment of upstream and downstream business processes.
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Learn about our implementation process in The Anaplan Way training. We've got a course coming up in Minneapolis (in our swanky new training space!) July 31 through Aug 2. To register, click here.

Anaplan Ask Me Anything

Ask Me Anything returns next week with Anaplan's Vice President of Product, Sampath Gomatam! Join the group and ask all your product roadmap questions.

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We believe you would be a great addition to the Dreamforce agenda. By weaving Anaplan into your session, we will happily cover your hotel accommodations—just a small thank you for being a valued Anaplan customer. Click here to nominate yourself or a colleague. Good luck and remember the deadline is July 20.