Our customers that realize the most value from their Anaplan investment the fastest are those who take their Connected Planning journey into their own hands. That is why it is critical for your success to identify as many Anaplan Model Builders as possible, ideally located within each of the teams that directly use and benefit from Anaplan.
How do you find the individuals that should fill these roles, or how can you tailor a job description if hiring new talent?
This should be as straightforward as it was to identify the right members of your team to manage your outdated spreadsheets. To help in that process, we recommend looking for three things when identifying your internal Anaplan Model Builder candidates:
Business process understanding
A predisposition to learning technology (though certainly nowhere near the technical knowledge required of a developer or engineer)
An ability to embrace and display a culture of Connected Planning.
Let’s go into detail about each of these recommendations below:
Business Process Understanding
Anaplan is best viewed as a platform that enables planning and running your business. Since there is no code or custom development needed, the platform is very flexible and extendable to your business needs, which is why your Model Builder must have a strong understanding of the goals your models must achieve.
While you can pair business-oriented product owners with technical-oriented Model Builders to achieve the same goal, the most efficient way to realize the full value of Anaplan as quickly as possible is to identify Model Builders who are also intimately familiar with your business processes.
It is also critical that these individuals have the ability to understand and document business requirements and translate them into a technology solution. As long as they understand that the primary goal is achieving a business outcome (not writing “beautiful” code), and are dedicated to optimizing processes and user experiences, they will succeed in their role as an Anaplan Model Builder.
While Anaplan is not a technically-complex tool, it helps to identify potential Model Builders who will learn and adapt to a new technology with ease. The Anaplan platform uses spreadsheet-like logic in a multi-dimensional modeling environment.
That means that you are primarily looking for individuals who have substantive spreadsheet expertise, and even better if they have experience using and configuring multi-dimensional or cube-based planning and reporting tools.
It is also important to remember your specific technology context, which is different for every customer! If you use any widely available transaction or database systems, it is a bonus for the potential Model Builder to understand the inner workings (or at least the data structures) of these source systems, since they will likely need to import and manipulate this data in Anaplan.
Alternatively, individuals with experience building Relational Database Management Systems or writing SQL commands will also have a smooth transition to learning how to become a Model Builder. And of course, any individual with an understanding of any other programming languages or technologies will likely be able to adapt their skills to configure Anaplan, and they should focus their transition on understanding how multi-dimensional planning environments work once they’ve quickly mastered the Anaplan formula syntax.
Connected Planning Culture
At a high level, Connected Planning represents a significant cultural shift from siloed two-dimensional planning to iterative, cross-functional, multi-dimensional planning. This mindset trickles down to every element of the job of a Model Builder, from the day-to-day work across multiple teams to streamlining and integrating disparate planning processes. We have found that these Model Builders need an incredible amount of tenacity to break down these siloes (often for the first time), and the core values of collaboration and inclusivity are paramount to accomplishing these goals.
Along similar lines, communication skills are an important benefit to Model Builders, as they typically end up becoming your ambassador to other teams and leaders who may benefit from leveraging your Anaplan investment, articulating the value of Connected Planning. Bonus points if the person also has an aptitude for training others (including setting and achieving learning outcomes, delivering engaging workshops and presentations, and demonstrating responsive listening skills).
You don’t want to replicate your historically siloed planning in a new collaborative cloud platform, so your organization is best served by identifying Model Builders who can co-create to help bring your Connected Planning vision into reality.
When you are ready to learn more about how to internally organize and govern your Model Builders across different teams, we recommend reviewing our materials on how to build your own Anaplan Center of Excellence (CoE). If this is an unfamiliar concept, we recommend starting with article on the definition and purpose of creating your own CoE.