When you think of deployment for a typical project, it involves a plan to roll the application out to the end users and will inevitably include a training approach for getting the end users trained. Deployment is a cornerstone because it is so much more than this. Deployment must be considered right from the start, by designing a solution for the end user. If you fail to capture the appreciation of the end user, you will lose their buy-in and ultimately lose adoption of Anaplan and the new process, effectively negating any ROI for the customer.
Involve end users in the Anaplan implementation project at the onset -- at the latest, during the second sprint. Customers should identify champions who can help promote the Anaplan model when it becomes generally available.
Many times, end users may be used in early ‘sneak-peeks” at the application and the User Acceptance Testing (UAT). Getting early buy-in to the design is always a good idea for a successful deployment. In addition, work with your customer to ensure the most influential people in the user population are involved in the process early on. Encourage the customer to let these influential people own some of the decisions and participate in the design. This is a great way to get early buy-in and these people will then act as advocates to the wider user population once the application is in UAT and during the go live phase.
Deployment, and the run up to deployment, is effectively a sales and PR job. Keep in mind that your customer is selling the application to their end users. Remember that it is almost impossible to over-communicate that a process change and new tool are being implemented.
Work with your customer to involve business subject matter experts (SME’s), who are well respected by the business in the early stages, preferably in the requirements phase. Then, around the middle of Sprint two, once you have the model at about 90% built (model only, no dashboards), start to get them involved in evaluating the solution.
What this means is three-fold:
- You get their early buy-in involvement in the project
- You start to force joint ownership of the solution
- You have time to steer the ship if things need to be adjusted
While this buy-in and evaluation of the solution is happening and tweaks are being made, you need to prepare for how you will introduce the business to the new solution and how people will be trained.
The next section is customer-focused. Work with the customer to make recommendations regarding how to effectively sell the Anaplan solution to the business. Remember that an effective deployment often leads to expands within an organization. A deployment that does not get off the ground leaves the customer wondering why they invested in Anaplan.
Positioning Anaplan to the Business
- Provide an early introductory on-demand video for end users to view that answers these questions:
- What and who is Anaplan?
- What process are we changing?
- Why are we changing?
- How does it work (demo)?
- What is the timeline for completion?
- Provide a software simulation for users to see what it will be like to perform the process.
- Create a web site where anyone can browse topics and documents.
- Conduct regular webinars or lunch-and-learns for users to attend and ask questions; openly discuss the impact of the new process on the business and their jobs.
- Conduct on-site evaluations and feedback sessions in which users get to see a presentation from the project team, share comments, and generate ideas.
- Put yourself in the place of an end user and answer:
- Why are you changing the way I am doing this process?
- How will it change the way I do things in the future?
- What was wrong with the old way?
- How will this make me do my job better or make me more efficient?
- When does the project start? How will I be involved?
- What if I get stuck or do not know what to do?
Create a Change Communication Plan
- During project planning, create a plan to introduce the business to the Anaplan model and process. Adjust this plan throughout the release phases.
- Create a training plan for end users. Include why the change is important to the end user, what the change includes, how their work may change due to the change, and where they can go for more information or assistance.
- Use documentation to create job aids on process flows or changes.
- Evaluate how many end users need to be trained; how many resources are needed to reach them all effectively.
- Identify two or three key success measures: how will you know end users are effectively adopting the model and process?
- Deployment is change management – a critical promotional role. Anaplan teams must sell the greater business on the Anaplan model in order for the business to adopt both the Anaplan model and resulting process changes. Plan layers of communication as part of the deployment plan.
- Over-communicate that a process change and new tool are being implemented.
- Find ways to effectively position the Anaplan model to the business. An effective deployment often leads to additional Anaplan implementations.