A Fortune 500 insurance company built and implemented a fully functioning License Management model in weeks rather than months. A local government saved $190k+ on audit consulting fees while adjusting forecasts quarterly instead of annually. A beverage manufacturing and distribution company rolled out model enhancement requests to business end users with an adoption rate more than double that of the initial model deployment.
What is it that they did differently to help them achieve such outstanding results? They used a sometimes-overlooked ingredient that is critical to the success on any SaaS platform: customer participation.
At Anaplan Live! in San Jose, Anaplan’s Chief Customer Officer Erin Siemens shared how customer participation is the secret ingredient for maximizing success with the Anaplan platform (and in many other aspects of life, like ordering food at a restaurant). This secret ingredient has been found to have a multiplying effect on the value we provide to our customers in addition to an outstanding product and world-class customer experience. As she demonstrated in her keynote, using this secret ingredient — customer participation — in the process of implementing and using Anaplan, can lead to accelerated outcomes and unbelievable value from the time and financial investment already being made in Anaplan.
When Erin outlined that customer participation has a multiplier effect on success, we asked ourselves how should one get started with that participation? Are there some kinds of participation that are more likely to result in the positive outcomes Erin mentioned, or that provide more bang for the buck of energy required in the participation? Are there different levels of participation that all qualify as multipliers of success? Or if somebody is already highly participating in some aspects of their implementation, what are some ways to double down and leverage that existing participation to take it to the next level and continue multiplying that energy into successful outcomes?
I’d like to take this opportunity to keep the conversation going around this idea of customer participation by taking the next step into discussing the HOW of customer participation. Let's start by breaking participation down into three key areas:
The first is participation in your local implementation, likely in the form of your current use case or department that is using Anaplan.
The second is participation at a broader company-wide level, acting as a change agent to break down the traditional siloes of business planning.
And the third is at the broader Community level, connecting and sharing with your peers who are on the same journey as you in other companies across the world.
Within each, you’ll find an easy, medium, and highly-committed version of what your participation could look like, all with the aim of helping you opt-in to your desired level of participation, and most importantly prioritizing helping you get started as quickly as possible on your path towards multiplying your success!
Network: Meet all the people within your team and company with responsibilities for managing Anaplan. These can be your model owners, business sponsors, Anaplan CoE team, other end users, or even your Anaplan Customer Success Business Partner and other account team members.
Learn: Dig into learning about your use case and all its different functionality, all the edge cases it supports, and other ways you can use standard Anaplan functionality to enhance your planning process without requiring any additional model enhancements.
Join: If you don’t yet have a Community login, create an Anaplan Community account to connect with your peers and join a Persona hub based on your role or a User Group based on your location or functional area of interest.
Connect: Join or organize internal Anaplan User calls (sometimes called an “Anaplan Community of Practice”) to stay in the loop with the latest and greatest ways your company is using Anaplan.
Share: Find something exciting in the Anaplan platform — something that is unique to one of your Anaplan use cases, a new feature documented/showcased in Community, or something you picked up in your Training journey like Anaplan Essentials or UX Page Building — and share how it might be relevant to other users and parts of your business.
Innovate: Identify adjacent spreadsheets or planning processes that are logical next steps in connecting your plans into a single source of planning, and share these with your company's Anaplan CoE Leader. These are sometimes referred to as shoulder use cases, since they represent an expansion of the current use case without requiring an implementation team or the full development of a new model.
Global Community participation
Emerge: Introduce yourself in the persona hub(s) that most relate to your current role. We recommend starting with a bit of your background, and sharing a current project or challenge that you’re working on at the moment. While you’re there, we recommend subscribing so that you’re always in the loop when we host new events or provide new content specific to supporting you in your current role.
Showcase: Share your story with our Community, either of your specific use case or of your career path that led you to Anaplan. Our Community Content team is ready to hear from you by emailing CommunityContent@anaplan.com to help publish your written, video, audio (think podcasts!), and live content.
Author: Provide your technical or business thought leadership to fill a void that you’re aware of or share something you do exceptionally well with the rest of the Community. This is your way to leave your mark on the Anaplan Community, demonstrate your expertise as you build your professional brand, and spark engaging deep-cut conversations with your peers.
I hope this helps you put in practice Erin’s key message that customer participation acts as a multiplier to customer success, and that these action-oriented options help you get started today at whichever level is easiest and most comfortable for you. If so, we’d love to hear from you, please let us know in the comments or by emailing CommunityContent@anaplan.com about how you will accelerate the value you add to your company by increasing your participation locally and globally!
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Hi Model Contributors,
I just read a really interesting Community blog post by @AntonS where he outlined seven benefits of model building within the Anaplan platform (spoilers: #5 covers the benefit of using standard Time and Versions compared to custom alternatives). I thought this would be a useful review for less active or experienced Model Contributors who enjoy dipping their toes in the world of model building without yet fully jumping in all the way to become a Certified Model Builder.
I'm interested to see if anybody else can relate to Anton's seven benefits, and if there are any others that this group might think would be specifically useful for Model Contributors. What do you think?
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Great advice as always, Stacey! And particularly handy links, nice one-stop shop. I personally remember how painful it was in my first deployment early-2016 to copy DEV models to TEST models for business approval, and then do the math on whether it was better to manually move changes to an existing PROD or deprecate the "old" PROD and copy the TEST model to a brand new PROD model (which was admittedly easier before deep-linking was built into the platform). Either way, the answer was always "This is all wrong" and great articles like these make it easier than ever to take advantage of the progress.
Thanks for sharing!
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Welcome @Chantiy20, you came to exactly the right place! Congrats on your new certifications and position, we hope you find everything you need in this Model Contributor Persona hub as you continue to advance. And please keep us all posted here if you have any questions that aren't answered, feedback on anything that might be missing, or challenges you encounter along the way.
We're all here to support you, and we want you to be wildly successful in your Anaplan career.
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This month we celebrate five years since the launch of the official Anaplan Community! From 2013 to 2016, Community forums served as a place for connection, conversation, and trouble-shooting — but we envisioned more. More learning, more sharing, and more opportunities for collaboration were just what the ecosystem needed to elevate planning practices.
That vision was realized in March 2017 when we launched a new Community experience with a more member-focused design and expanded resources. Since then, we've been committed to improving the experience for members with new features, improved content, and expanded networking opportunities. Every day we are inspired by this Community! Your knowledge, willingness to support each other, and eagerness to learn are what drive our work in creating a place to help you succeed.
When you think about your engagement with Community — I want you to think about it first as a place to be inspired, and then as a place to inspire.
- Erin Siemens, SVP, Chief Customer Officer, Anaplan
Join us in celebrating five amazing years by taking a look back at the journey we've been on together, and experience Community through the lens of two long-time members as they look back at their personal Community journey.
Like I said in 2017, “We have a vibrant community where we can help our customers succeed on their own, to learn, develop, and grow… The more voices we have the farther we can go, and we do that together as one Community.” Even 5 years later, we continue to be fully committed to your success, and as you heard from our current Chief Customer Officer you’ll see even more attention and investment to continue improving this space for all of us to move forward together.
This is the place to make your impact, build your brand, get inspired by your peers, and pay it forward while simultaneously developing yourself. Thank you for your engagement and enthusiasm. We can't wait for the next five years!
Who has inspired you — in the Anaplan Community or in your professional life — over the past five years? Leave a comment!
More Community content:
Announcement: Community Advancement
2022 is an exciting year for the Anaplan Community!
Thank you, Anaplan Community
Select Spoiler below to read the complete transcript from this video.
Crystal: In the very beginning with interacting with the community. I wasn't as confident right to be, you know, the type of person who's inputting like, yeah, here's a solution to what you're asking for. Even if I felt confident in the answer outside of like an online kind of input. Marco: When I first saw the product back in the days more than ten years ago, of course, it wasn't the Anaplan that is today. Likewise, the community. Chris: I needed to learn how to use Anaplan in the real world, in the field. I needed to learn more about how to use the tool to actually accomplish the goals that my clients had. I needed. I need to build models right Marco: Because my job is to go to clients and help them figure out how to better leverage the technology and enable processes that they didn't even think they could enable in the first place. Erin: What other place besides community? It's just the most phenomenal place to find all of the great content, all of the great learnings, people willing to share their own vulnerability and mistakes. Crystal: The community for Anaplan uses across the ecosystem, it honestly is a one-stop shop to really get all different variations of insight on any type of question that you have Erin: One of the things I love about community is that it is really a collection of people coming together to contribute articles and content and best practices and really just be there to inspire each other. And so when you think about your engagement with community, I want you to think about it first as a place to be inspired and then as a place to inspire. Crystal: And so Anaplan is a tool to for the people and so being able to go back into the community and pay it forward, it only strengthens and embodies right, that full circle Marco: I don't think that without the community being there, I couldn't have achieved the results I achieved. But for sure it helped me. Has it helped me at, you know, taking back the decision, supporting better my clients definitely the answer is yes. Erin: What other area can you think of as an Anaplanner who has invested so much time in curating and building up your skill set? What other place can you think of where you can really get out there and learn and teach and grow? Chris: So we are pulling from our community. We are funneling in every single customer and partner into our community because that's where they're going to get the most support and connection from their peers. So we are sending everybody to community. We want anybody who's contributing to community. Our job is to make sure that you're making the largest impact possible. It's where everybody already is. So this is the place to make your impact, build your brand and then, you know, learn from your peers and kind of pay it forward while also continuing to develop yourself.
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As our customers continue to realize increasingly more value from Anaplan and work to bring their Connected Planning visions to life, the need for certified Anaplan talent is more critical now than ever. This creates a unique opportunity for those looking to make a career change and capitalize on this period of hypergrowth, allowing skilled Anaplan professionals to directly benefit from and leave their mark by building digital representations of organization’s competitive advantage allowing them to plan, analyze, and act faster than ever.
To that end, this month we are excited to announce the kickoff of our third cohort of Anaplan for All, a 100% free training program for qualified learners who identify as members of Black, Latinx, Veteran, LGBTQ+, and refugee communities. The program, in partnership with Correlation One, supercharges participants’ careers through 12 weeks of live online training on Anaplan’s business planning software, plus mentorship, career coaching, and job fairs. Upon program completion, Anaplan for All graduates receive dedicated job search support, which opens a world of exciting career opportunities in the Anaplan ecosystem. In fact, more than 70% of graduates from the program’s first cohort secured jobs within the Anaplan ecosystem.
This new cohort also marks the first time that Anaplan customers and partners have officially joined as program sponsors, giving them priority access to recruit program graduates to help meet their Anaplan model builder talent needs.
Here’s a quick snapshot of the metrics of our current cohort:
The Anaplan Community is a vital part of a new Anaplanners journey, offering guidance and support as people navigate the learning process and job search. To welcome our latest cohort, two of the programs’ top sponsors provide valuable career advice and inspiration:
Jay Laabs, CEO at Spaulding Ridge:
Learn by doing. You will learn about yourself — regarding what you like to do and how you can build on your skills.
Listen and listen well. You can learn a lot by listening more effectively through practice. Listening is a skill that will serve you well at the start of your new role and throughout your career. At Spaulding Ridge, we work hard to listen and understand our clients in order to best serve their needs.
Stay true to your values and principles, as they are your guiding force in every situation you face.
Always work hard. Learn as much as you can about Anaplan’s software and demonstrate commitment to the ongoing learning process. Hard work always pays off. Understanding Anaplan will help you guide your clients towards seamless integrated enterprise planning to help them scale quickly and effectively.
Lastly, you're not alone. With the Anaplan for All program, you have support at your fingertips. Leverage your mentors and sponsors if you are dealing with a challenging situation. We have your back.
Ryan DuBiel, Global Anaplan Practice Lead at Slalom:
Don’t be afraid to ask a question. Anaplan is a versatile platform that we use to help our clients tackle complex business planning problems. Anaplan for All will do a great job in preparing you for whatever comes next, but you won’t know everything. Keep learning, keep asking questions, and keep pushing yourself to the edge of your comfort zone!
Don’t lose sight of what makes you “you”. My favorite part about Anaplan for All is that this program opens doors for people that have historically been under-represented in the Anaplan and technology ecosystems. Your background and experiences may be different from others you cross paths with in your career, but never forget that this is your strength! Diversity of thought brings new perspectives and novel solutions.
Don’t forget those who come behind you. Most of us would not be where we are today if not for some help from those that came before us. You will soon look back on this point of your career and marvel at all that you have learned and accomplished. Just don’t forget that there will be others that stand at the very point you are in now. Help them to take that next step, and be amazed at what we will all accomplish — together.
The Anaplan for All Experience
Congratulations to the Inaugural Class of Anaplan for All Fellows!
Anaplan's Victor Barnes on Diversity in Tech
If you’re new to the Anaplan Community, welcome! Don’t hesitate to search or post in our Forums with questions. If you’ve been here a while, we value your perspective — leave a comment sharing advice for those who are just beginning their path to learning Anaplan.
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Estimated Level of Effort:
4-8 Hours of Model Building
Level of Difficulty: Beginner
Recommended Training: L2 Model Builder Training
Persona: Casual Model Builder
Potential ROI: Decreased planning time Increased accuracy of targets/spreads
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Whether it's budgeting or quota-setting, allocations are a fundamental element of the planning process. When starting a planning process like this, you want to let the Anaplan platform do as much of the heavy lifting as possible, and in this case, that means automatically calculating the best starting point. Regardless of the number of levels in your hierarchy or your specific planning use case, this approach to cascading numbers is a critical skill to have up your sleeve. The approach is very flexible and applies to virtually any planning scenario that includes a composite hierarchy and can easily be applied to allocating expenses down to multiple cost centers, splitting credit for a successful campaign across multiple marketing teams, and determining the locations that are most likely to provide the highest cost efficiencies.
In this example, we will focus on taking a sales target from the global headquarters and cascading it down to individual sales teams. While more advanced recipes will get into concepts like driver-based allocations, smoothing the seasonality of historical figures, or including external data sources to determine the optimal allocation, this recipe starts with the critical foundation of determining the baseline for any final numbers.
In a typical quota-setting process there is often a human element of confirming the numbers. This recipe does not include the steps of building Hold and Override functionality, but it does provide the starting point to add that functionality on at a later time.
The LOOKUP Function
Identify the list(s) and hierarchies you will use to distribute. If this is a finance use case, this is typically a chart of accounts; if this is a quota management use case, this can either be a territory hierarchy or a sales management hierarchy.
You will need to create modules for every layer of the hierarchy you will be allocating and cascading. Each module will be structurally the same, aside from the planning dimension (in this case, Geo hierarchy).
For your Initial Target, use the following formula to retrieve the Initial Target from the Parent level in the hierarchy and divide it by the percent the current level is responsible for receiving from this level of the hierarchy.
(OPTIONAL) Next, we may want to determine our level of over assignment at each level. This is particularly applicable to Quota management (but could apply to budgeting, only in reverse, i.e. under assignment). Over assignment is the practice of "over assigning" a goal to each child level in the hierarchy. What this does is creates a buffer for each leader in the sales org so that not every member of the team needs to hit 100% to achieve the team goal. If the leader's goal is $100, he/she might assign out $115 in quota, so if someone comes up short, the team still makes its goal.
INPUT Allocation Method.xls
INPUT Sub Region Goal Setting.xls
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Estimated Level of Effort: <4 Hours of Model Building
Level of Difficulty: Beginner
Recommended Training: L1 Model Builder Training
Persona: Casual Model Builder
Potential ROI: Decreased response time to address risks Increased forecast accuracy
You Might Also Like:
One of Anaplan’s greatest strengths is its in-memory storage, which means that data is always accurate and real-time. However, sometimes it is useful to see what the data was at, at a specific point in time, whether to back up data, to compare changing data over time, or any other reason that comes along with the true diversity in planning empowered by the platform. Historical Snapshotting refers to the ability within Anaplan to capture real-time data values and store them in a way that they will never change.
This seemingly simple idea requires just a few more steps than you might think and cannot be derived by the calculation engine, but by following these simple steps (including one or two shortcuts), you can have Historical Snapshotting up and running in your model in no time. Sometimes called "Time Stamping" or "Version Stamping," this process really covers anytime that real-time data must be captured at a specific moment and saved in a relevant way that can be recalled and compared later, whether that has to do with a specific point in time, the specific version of a plan calculated at the moment, or any other variation.
This functionality is especially powerful when matched with Crediting Rules where you can see which transactions were assigned to which individuals at any point in time, regardless of staffing changes. This is also useful for historical reporting to compare different versions of data over time to show trends and changes in dynamic data in real time.
Standard vs. False Versions
Module Saved Views for Importing
Identify the module that has source data that you’d like to see over time. There are often many calculations in this data, and they are most often NOT dimensionalized by Time. Create a Saved View of the data you would like to have timestamped, usually including some mention that it is a “Snapshot” in the name.
In the Module Settings, Copy this module. You have flexibility over the name you choose, most frequently it is some combination of the name of the original module with the addition of "Snapshot.” It is not necessary to keep the "Include cell data in module copy" setting selected.
In the new module, remove all formulas and clear out all existing data. You can easily accomplish this by setting the formulas to “0” or “BLANK” or “FALSE,” depending on the Line Item Formatting. Just make sure to remove these formulas before moving on to the next step. You can certainly also complete this step manually if you can easily see all data on one screen.
Update the dimension of the module to add your Snapshot dimension (whether it's Time, Versions, or a list). If using a false time dimension, after clicking the "…" in the Applies To setting make sure to keep the current dimension selection and just add the new one by holding “Command” on Macintosh keyboards or "Control" on Windows keyboards to add the new dimension without losing the current module dimension settings.
Build an import into this new module from the saved view you created in Step 1. All dimensions and line items should map automatically, and you will need to fill in the mapping for your time dimension. Set the mapping for your time dimension to “Ask Every Time.” One thing to note, it is best to set your import to Clear All Data, so that if you run the import action multiple times, set to the same Time item to prevent summing any numeric values instead of stamping them from the current source data.
Alternatively, you can include a line item in your model where you set the value for the timestamp to set and include a formula referencing this data in your source data module Saved View, for use in mapping. This advanced modification is useful when running multiple Time Stamping procedures or ensuring model-wide consistency, but is not required to get started with your first Time Stamping exercise.
Run your import and select the mapping you would like to use for this snapshot of the data.
Validate that when setting your module dimension to the current snapshot, your data matches the current live data in your source module.
Add your newly-created import action to a Process Action, and publish this Process Action to a relevant administrative Page (or Classic Dashboard, if you have not yet migrated to the UX).
And that’s it! Whenever you have new data that should be captured in Time Stamp, you can run your Process Action to stamp the data to a specific time of your choosing.
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Beautiful story and sentiment @JaredDolich, I wholeheartedly agree that you are already a giant among Master Anaplanners, thank you for continuing to raise the bar for this community (and then help others attain it)!!
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AMAZING job Jen & Yelena, just re-watched the video and picked up a few more nuggets of wisdom, feeling very lucky to be your co-worker!
Here's the link to the other video I referenced at the end of the video, which provides a framework and whiteboard to use when talking about Connected Planning to other executives within your company (feel free to substitute "Chief Planning Officer" with the current Executive Sponsor of your Anaplan footprint).
We hope you find all of these resource useful, feel free to let us know if there's something specific we can add to the discussion to assist you on your Connected Planning journey!
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As the Anaplan ecosystem continues to mature, many companies are beginning to commit dedicated resources to building and scaling an Anaplan Center of Excellence (CoE). We have found that those customers who have made this investment are the most likely to attain independent sustainability, and maximize their value received out of the Anaplan platform.
In our continued efforts to support the growing community of these CoEs, we recently hosted a Community Ask Me Anything (AMA) on the topic of the maturity curve of developing a CoE. At that time, we also launched the 9 most common steps to building a CoE, which now also has a template CoE Charter deck.
Throughout the AMA, the questions and conversations centered around topics of internal organization and sponsorship, as well as enabling business users to own and maximize their Anaplan platform. We wanted to take this opportunity to showcase a few key highlights from the discussion, and we encourage you to follow the links to review the detailed conversations as they took place:
Something that always comes up in early CoE-development conversations is the role IT should play, and whether it makes sense to position the CoE within IT or the business. My personal favorite exchange of the AMA was between two of our Certified Master Anaplanners, @Megan_Carrozza from Groupon and @LokeshNandula from ServiceNow. They both shared their perspectives on why each of their CoEs sit where they do, which currently live within Finance and IT, respectively.
Securing strong executive sponsorship is one of the most critical early tasks of building a CoE, which @serena.zhang brought up specifically as it relates to handling leadership changes, while @Agandhi started a conversation on how to approach justifying additional internal investment in a CoE.
@JaredDolich mentioned a key challenge as CoEs begin to grow, balancing empowering decentralized super users with maintaining centralized governance. Along similar lines, @fabien.junod raised a question about managing decentralized administrative access as the Anaplan footprint begins to expand.
Looking forward to activities typically conducted by more mature CoEs, @Tiffany.Rice covered topics like what comes next for CoEs after completing the backlog and reaching a point of stability, including building a Connected Planning Roadmap.
We even received some more technical questions about aspects of the Anaplan platform typically owned by the CoE, such as ALM and deployment checklists (@Ellen.Morley), and managing compliance controls, which could be applied more broadly to SOX controls, and model health (@Nikita_S_Gnilozub).
And of course, we touched on some fundamental topics like @UpaliKW question on the role Implementation Partners play in helping building CoEs, and @TaraTCG question on how to overcome and avoid some of the common pitfalls and potential disadvantages of an improperly-built CoE.
We hope these conversations are helpful along all points of the CoE journey, and as always we are excited to find more opportunities to continue support our customers on this critical path to self-sufficiency. What did you think about the AMA? Please share your thoughts or post more questions in our ongoing CoE Discussion Forum!
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Thanks for hosting this AMA, such a great topic! Quick question for you, which types of predictive analytics do you think are best suited to be moved into Anaplan? Not just integrated into Connected Planning models, but actually migrated to being entirely calculated within Anaplan?
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Thanks @Romain_Colin! This is something we're actively working on, rolling out a tool that our AoA team currently uses (Anaplan's internal Anaplan CoE). Stay tuned for more (subscribe to the CoE section of Community, which is where this will launch, if you haven't already).
Also as a short-term workaround, this offering is part of our Hypercare support package, which is an add-on to your current subscription with additional cost.
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Great question, managing compliance controls like Diageo's CARM or more general SOX compliance is starting to come up more often.
In complete transparency, it isn't something that I have much experience with and these usually require very strict formal approaches, but I do know we will need to provide more support here as this catches up to becoming a priority for more customer CoEs. So I can offer a few high-level customer examples, and hopefully some others from the community can chime in here as well.
First, I've seen customers lean heavily on the Model History to manage this. Some creative customers have built input modules that are structured the same as the export from the Model History, so they run a Model History export at regularly scheduled intervals, then upload the file back into an Anaplan module, and use that for compliance and audit reporting. I know that I'm oversimplifying a pretty complex process, especially for a group like Diageo who manage MANY different models, but it might inspire some ideas.
I also am aware of some customers who have tried to use Tenant Administration to manage this, though I think this provides limited usefulness at this time. But worth taking a look.
And last I would say this is definitely something worth partnering closely with IT on. Aligning to internal policies and procedures is probably your best bet here, especially in the short term (I know your group is unique here, but this should stand for most other customers with a similar question).
Hope this helps for now, knowing that this is an underdeveloped topic that definitely needs a closer look!
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Passing along a direct response from Ashley Stevens, CoE Leader at Aviva, who had this to say on your excellent topic. As you can tell from the number of replies on this question, you really hit a nerve in terms of something that is very top of mind for CoEs these days!
"I don’t think you ever fully enter maintenance mode. The Anaplan transformation journey to get to a connected planning end state is ever evolving: bringing in new areas, rebuilding legacy models, adopting the NUX, etc....
The key transition for us was moving beyond a reactive approach where projects were initiated by end users (generally following a conversation with Anaplan) to shaping our own strategic roadmap. All current / pipeline activity is focused on moving us closer to a connected planning end state as well as revisiting legacy models to ensure best in class solution. Key to doing this successfully is having the right roles and responsibilities in the team to ensure we deliver end to end transformation: Data / Solution Architect owning the roadmap, Process Engineers designing the E2E solution, Model Builders, BAU Maintenance Analysts, Governance Lead - and using third parties to augment these skills where appropriate.
Hope this helps.
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Great points, it's very helpful that you've outlined this thorough list here!
I think you're absolutely right. If these are the required skillsets for your company in managing your Anaplan footprint, it should absolutely be heavily dependent on IT resources and/or an implementation consulting partner. We're in agreement that these skills would be very rare to find within the business, and in this case the business would still of course play a critical role in providing user stories/business requirements as well as feedback on your implementations.
That said, I think many Anaplan customers are not quite looking for that level of expertise in managing their planning applications in Anaplan, especially at first. I know you all are doing some very big and exciting things with Anaplan, so your situation is unique, but also we can point to just as many examples of finance or other business users accomplishing complex technical requirements in Anaplan on their own.
Either way, this will of course vary customer to customer, and you're absolutely doing the right thing for what your company needs, and if other companies have similar needs they will probably skew more towards IT-reliance than being entirely business-owned, I'm just not sure exactly what percentage of customers fall into your same category here.
Thanks again for putting together these exhaustive list, excellent resource to be added to the CoE resource library!
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Thanks @prakash_harihar, really appreciate you sharing your experience here! And for everybody else who doesn't already know Prakash, he works at Anaplan now but is famous in the land of CoEs as the leader and creator of our first ever Customer CoE from his time at McAfee. Many of the foundations for our customer CoE strategies come from his work, so thanks Prakash for everything, and these details should be very useful as other CoEs look to find additional funding and support for their teams!
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Thanks for bringing up the contrasting roles of business and IT, this something I’m asked very frequently and realistically the answer is slightly different for every customer.
I’ll start with the most common answer, that Anaplan is meant to be a business-owned planning platform, which leverages Excel-like formula syntax to shorten the learning curve as business users transition from planning in spreadsheets to Connected Planning. The benefits of the business owning Anaplan is that they are the most qualified to ensure that Anaplan directly addresses their planning needs, and can be responsible for adjustments to the system as their planning environment remains fluid and flexible. Or from another angle, most IT teams don’t want to receive a support ticket every time a business user needs to make a slight adjustment to their planning or forecasting process (which would happen weekly, if not daily in some cases!).
That said, you’re absolutely right that most business owners are not experienced in managing and architecting a scalable, enterprise-grade cloud platform. This is a new skill for many of them, which is why we are investing so heavily in providing these resources around how they should manage their CoE (and of course we know we still have a long way to go here!). The benefit to IT playing a role here is in sharing common best practices in software management that apply across all technologies, regardless of how flexible or intuitive they are to learn. In other words, most business users don’t have a decade of experience designing Software Development Lifecycles to migrate new functionalities from a development sandbox to a production environment, and we certainly don’t want to discredit the in-house expertise that the IT team already has in this area.
Every CoE should have representatives from both the business and IT in order to ensure a successful holistic Anaplan implementation. We like to recommend a “best of both” world where IT owns software-related elements that are technology-agnostic (integrations, data management, documentation, etc), where the business owns planning processes, model building, and dashboard design. There are more details about this breakdown on our Roles & Responsibilities article (3rd graphic from the top).
That said, this exact breakdown is different for every company. You may find a great deal of success having your Certified Master Anaplanners (or global solution architects) located in IT due to their expertise in developing scalable enterprise-grade solutions. Or your entire team may be located within the business, with occasional requests over to your IT team for occasional data feed updates, and learning the new skill of enterprise solution architecture to build the best Anaplan models.
The thing that is most important is that for your company, your CoE needs to maintain a strong relationship across both groups. And isn’t that the whole point of a CoE anyway? Breaking down corporate silos of traditional planning? Why not start here, breaking down the silos between IT and Business!
Hope that helps, definitely curious to hear your views and from others who are struggling with similar dilemmas!
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Great question, as with everything in the Anaplan ecosystem we work extremely closely with our Partners to ensure the success of our customers along every step of their journey, including building and scaling a CoE.
I’ll share two of the most useful resources that I’ve seen lately when thinking about the relationship between Customer, Partner, and Anaplan in terms of CoEs. First, we’ve learned that the best time for new customers to build their CoE is during their first model implementation. Partners typically take the lead in this step of the customer journey, and we’ve identified a simple roadmap to help Partners support our customers build a CoE as part of The Anaplan Way.
During UAT, when customers begin releasing Anaplan to their end users for the first time and collect test script feedback, Partners are typically responsible for managing any defects and issues that will prevent successful go-live, but typically lots of out of scope and enhancement requests also come up. We recommend using the attached template to split responsibilities between customer and Partner, with the Partner owning the dedicated UAT activities, and the customer owning the CoE-Lite activities, as the foundation for what will become their Full CoE after deployment. This also helps the Partner focus their time and attention where they can add the most value during the sometimes chaotic time of UAT, on fixing in-scope defects that are critical to the success of the initial deployment.
Additionally, our most mature customer CoEs have developed very robust, evolving relationships with their Partners as they take on new roles with the Customer, everything from providing complex technical solution architecture across all cloud platforms and providing thought leadership on Connected Planning and how to achieve excellence in planning in specific LOBs. Our most recent customer interview panel went into some details here, especially around 5:17.
Thanks Upali, always glad to make sure the Partner perspective is included in everything we do here, great question!
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Glad to hear about the progress you’re making with your CoE, thanks for sharing your engagement model thoughts. For what it’s worth this is a common CoE setup that is working very well for many other customers, so you’re in great company! I’ve seen this exact situation approached two different ways, and would be interested to hear from you if your group has come up with any other creative solutions here.
The first solution is of course to replicate standard Versions and Bulk Copy functionality in a custom build, so that end users can activate these business processes from a Process action published on a dashboard. I’m sure you’ve considered this, and there are lots of reasons many customers don’t take this approach based on their specific situation (and of course we recommend using standard functionality wherever possible).
The second solution that I see customers land on more often, is identifying at least one model builder in each group who would have admin rights. If your concern about providing admin rights is around access issues, it’s worth looking into ways to use Anaplan itself to help you manage what your admins are up to (think Tenant Administration, splitting models across multiple workspaces, reviewing model histories for user audits, general offline governance approaches/expectations among your team, etc.). And we’re also piloting a broader CoE solution based on how our Anaplan-on-Anaplan team manages this issue, if you aren't already involved please let us know if you’d like to be included or otherwise keep an eye out here for updates from us and @pierre_kerkinni.
Otherwise, if your concern is around the cost implication, I recommend front-loading the effort of ensuring exponential value that the group will be gaining from this investment (beyond just the ability to bulk copy). For example, while these power users within the business units are collecting enhancement requests, can they also be responsible for quickly building lower complexity items within guardrails set by the CoE, and does that increase the speed to value for that group? Can they serve in a “part-time” role on your CoE (say 20%) and act as the model builders on implementations for their business group to help prioritize the needs of their team and ensure resourcing constraints don’t slow the CoE down?
To get to your point, I fundamentally agree with you and believe that the business SHOULD own these tasks, and the job of the CoE is to remove any barriers preventing that from happening (for example cost/business justification, user audits, and/or admin enablement and expectation-setting). We all know the time invested in these activities is far more valuable than time spent owning the model maintenance tasks, even if at first they both take the same amount of time.
Hope that helps, let me know if you'd like me to go into more details on any of these ideas, and good luck with the next step of your CoE!
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Great question, and thanks for the feedback that you think this video helps make CoEs a little more approachable!
I’d say that I see 4 potential disadvantages of CoEs, which I’ve seen most often in groups that unintentionally slipped into an informal “CoE” without much forethought (who then need help rectifying these issues):
Becoming a bottleneck or source of red tape if they become overly centralized in nature,
Decelerating the speed to new value as they grow,
Struggling to maintain internal investment (both time and money), and
Pigeonholing the team as an application management/support function vs. a true transformation connected planning engine.
And here are the most effective solutions I’ve seen in combatting those challenges, in respective order:
Building strong internal processes: As a CoE shifts from focusing on chipping away the backlog or putting out fires, they quickly need to focus their attention on creating scalable, repeatable, consistent business processes for things like managing new requests and maintaining recurring meeting cadences, including providing some documentation. This should help the team become more comfortable with the moderate level of decentralization that follows, while unlocking their productivity to keep up with the business.
Prioritizing internal enablement: Every Anaplan customer should have at least one Certified Master Anaplanner (or somebody in the application process working towards becoming one). And as the CoE matures, the original founding members and Certified Master Anaplanners should shift their attention from focusing entirely on model building activities towards primarily focusing on internal training and enablement activities. When they become a multiplier, the CoE can focus on providing exponential new value at scale, while helping end users identify for themselves how Anaplan can be used to continue improving their business processes (and take less of your time with basic support issues).
Identifying strong visionary leadership: As the CoE continues demonstrating the successful outcomes the Anaplan footprint has provided to the business, a Chief Planning Officer or visionary Connected Planning executive sponsor will understand that limited resources prevent realizing additional value from the current Anaplan investment, so the decision to invest in expanding the team shifts from being a net cost to a net benefit. Additionally, this executive sponsor is critical to ensure that the CoE continues focusing on connecting the company’s strategic objectives to the tactical execution planning conducted in Anaplan. In other words, they provide value by making sure model builders are prioritizing building the right things in Anaplan, which helps prevent anybody from underestimating the CoE’s value.
Maintaining close proximity to the business: As CoEs grow and become more centralized, inevitably somebody tries to move the group to a more “logical” place in the organization. This is often a mistake (varying from customer to customer of course). The CoE must stay as close to the business as possible and maintain their role in achieving transformational Connected Planning, rather than just supporting one or two production applications. Even as CoEs expand across many LOBs, the bulk of the team should be made up of business users from each of those LOBs, which will help ensure that business outcomes are continuously prioritized and improved as capacity allows, rather than becoming a mini-IT support department for what should be a primarily business-owned platform.
I know that your team in particular has lots of great thought leadership on helping your clients avoid most of these pitfalls, so please feel free to add more details that you think other customers might benefit from. Thanks for getting this great topic started!
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Great question, roadmap development is directly related to the final stages of building a mature CoE.
The short answer to your question of CoEs entering “Maintenance Mode” is that while there are definitely some of those out there, I wouldn’t personally recommend that as an aspirational goal until true Connected Planning is achieved across your entire company! (How’s that for aspirational?!)
I have seen plenty of mature CoEs whose primary goals are proactively taking Anaplan out to different areas of the business, demonstrating the value of Connected Planning (or even just Better planning, for that matter), and then have responsibility for the process of scoping the work and overseeing the implementation (whether they own the actual model build or not). Some of the customers I spoke to on CPX 2019’s CoE Panels discussed how they approached this topic (Maria Milazzo in San Francisco ~8:41, and Ashley Stevens in London ~23:45). At the end of the day, the best CoEs are those who achieve Connected Planning, not just those who build and manage the best Anaplan models.
Along those lines, we recommend that all CoEs build their Connected Planning Topology/Honeycomb/Roadmap, or whatever you want to call it. We’re in the early phase of building an accelerator for CoEs to manage this, tagging in @Beauram to loop you in on the pilot group if she hasn’t already. Hopefully these tools help make it easier for CoEs to tackle the more administrative parts of this mission.
But building a roadmap isn’t just about putting a bunch of hexagons on a slide, it requires transformational leadership. For CoEs who have successfully completed their backlog and have become a well-oiled machine efficiently managing the day-to-day with spare time on their hands, you have earned the right to take on this higher level challenge. This is your opportunity to pivot to become exponentially more impactful in your work and be at the forefront of bringing the Connected Planning vision to life at your company. While you may need a Chief Planning Officer to help make the path a little easier (more resources to come there soon), if you’re in a position to chart your own course you can absolutely be the change in your organization. And along the way you may even set yourself on the path to achieving this role yourself, along with countless other career opportunities.
Thanks for getting me started on this great topic, I’m sure many of us here could rant on about it forever, hope this is helpful!
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Thanks so much for the detailed question around deployment management, definitely a key area of focus for CoEs that want to prepare for (or currently manage) multiple use cases/departments.
Yes, especially where required by IT I definitely see the CoE as being responsible for providing an ALM deployment checklist. The CoE are likely the ones with the most experience both with ensuring successful deployments, and the internal procedures and politics around working with IT.
It’s also worth not in that we recommend that IT play a supporting role in every CoE (more details here). I mention that because in situations like these, especially where required by IT, somebody from that IT department should already be regularly engaged with the CoE and should help in co-creating this document. In typical business-run CoEs this may be the first SDLC or deployment process they have managed, whereas IT has much more expertise here, so definitely take advantage of their experience.
I’ll specifically point to an excellent CoE forum post by 2019’s Master Anaplanner of the Year @bdeaton, who described her CoE’s very detailed approach to testing and documentation before every deployment.
You make a great point around wondering how formal this process should be, and of course this will be different customer to customer based on internal policies. That said, since one of the primary goals of the CoE should be maintaining agility and providing increased speed to value, the bar really should be set at requiring as little formality as possible to ensure successful deployments while complying with IT policies.
Thanks for the great topic, hope that helps!
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Hi @Agandhi, this is a really common question, thanks for bringing it up!
I’ll start with the fact that it’s alright for an Anaplan CoE to start small. We see very successful CoEs managing several production use cases with 2-3 full time employees. The CoE should grow and scale over time with the Anaplan footprint, so the best way of approaching your question is to pivot slightly from focusing on expanding the CoE team and towards expanding the business impact and benefit of the Anaplan footprint within the company (promise I’m not getting sales-y, I’m not talking about buying more Anaplan licenses necessarily, but more along the lines of building more use cases/models or whoever you can provide additional value to the business). This way the limited resources on your current CoE are seen as a roadblock to additional success, rather than a cost to be minimized.
In order to accomplish this, it’s critical to measure and report the key successes of the current team. We are definitely in the early stages of maturity in terms of CoEs reporting internal ROI metrics, but it’s something we’re starting to see more of, and will share out more examples in the coming months. In the meantime you can review some of the success metrics we report for our customers at anaplan.com/customers, though you may already have a good sense of the benefit you’ve provided.
And if those metrics don’t make the strongest case on their own, I’d recommend peeling away to find some time to build some quick proof of concepts to demonstrate the potential for Anaplan to solve new challenges or use cases to key executive sponsors. When leaders can see the speed and value you can bring to the business, it becomes much easier for them to invest in expanding your team, since there’s a direct benefit to the bottom line (not just the cost of expanding your team).
That said, you may not even have your 2-3 FTEs. If that’s the case, I would recommend reviewing some of the customer CoE success stories that are out there (CPX 2019 SF CoE panel, CPX 2019 London CoE panel, Anaplan Live! customer panel, etc.), or connect directly with a similar Anaplan customer as a reference, to help show your leadership team that you’re prepared to help maximize the value of the investment they’ve already made in Anaplan. Nobody wants to leave money on the table, so finding similar relatable customers who have articulated the value they received from building even a small CoE may help you get the ball rolling.
Wishing you the best of luck with your additional investment, hope that helps!
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Hi @serena.zhang, thanks for the great question, lots to dig into here!
I’ll start with some honesty, I haven’t see a a whole lot of examples of this in general. That said there are some commonalities across the few examples that I have seen, and realistically they all have to do with the actions of the members of the CoE, regardless of team size.
The first and probably most impactful way to maintain the CoE structure through leadership changes is to have a strong Anaplan technical expert (hopefully a Certified Master Anaplanner, like you Serena!) take responsibility for maintaining the day-to-day consistency of the Anaplan footprint, almost like a grassroots effort to maintain governance regardless of formal org structure. This is even more helpful if there is a visionary CoE Leader on the team to also maintain order (keep an eye out for upcoming resources to launch soon describing this in more detail), though realistically in this situation the technical expertise is more critical than the CoE Leader role.
Then it’s the job of that Master Anaplanner to roll up their sleeves and demonstrate key wins to the new executive sponsor (if one has been assigned), or to take Anaplan on a road show to ideal new exec sponsors. Things I’ve seen succeed are demonstrating ROI from previous implementations, sharing praise and comments from business users who have benefitted from Anaplan, or even just quickly building Proof Of Concept dashboards to demonstrate speed and value in the language of the new exec sponsor(s). This idea of “internally selling Anaplan” to executives is a great way to ensure you maintain control over your CoE structure (by helping your leadership appropriately understand the benefit of this team’s existence and your role in defining the best path forward), and is also a great way to accelerate your career growth as part of this hypergrowth ecosystem. Along those lines, Arjun Rai and Kyle @sakowski27 just finished describing this in more detail in our interview from a few weeks ago around the 17:10 mark, and of course I recommend checking out the whole interview.
If executed correctly by somebody like you, senior leaders should begin fighting over who gets to own the Anaplan footprint and CoE, and your job becomes picking and aligning to whomever has the best strategic vision for enabling Connected Planning at the company, leveraging your past success and role as the Anaplan SME to ensure you have a say in the matter.
The examples I’d reference are from customers who recently underwent an acquisition, where they maintained a leadership role in their CoE by having the more successful series of Anaplan implementations, and also from another Certified Master Anaplanner who moved from one region with a strong CoE to another region with no CoE, who was able to leverage his mastery of the Anaplan platform to generate the political capital necessary to receive approval to build another team in his new region (not that there should always be separate regional CoEs within one company, but that’s a story for another question).
Really great question with lots of room to elaborate further, hope this helps!
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Hi @JaredDolich, thanks for being such a great CoE advocate to your clients!
Great question, and you're absolutely right that the best CoEs have found a balance of removing themselves as a bottleneck to model development while ensuring consistent quality and adherence to best practices.
What I’ve learned from these customers is that working towards this goal doesn’t start by achieving 100% of both, but rather prioritizing enablement of business users (empowering modelers as you said), and working as hard as possible to support them through any errors they face or defects that are inevitably caused, as quickly as reasonable given limited resources.
When done best, success here looks like an exponential increase in the creativity of problems solved within Anaplan by outside modelers, which should be released in increasing speed over time.
Here’s an example of what this looks like in real life. One of our strongest CoE leaders told me that they knew they had achieved success here when they were conducting a model audit one day, and stumbled onto a really complex set of calculations that they didn’t understand. After investigating further, turns out that several months ago the business had used Anaplan to completely solve one of the biggest challenges the company had been facing for years, all without the CoE ever knowing. Of course to get there that particular CoE leader had spent a ton of time cleaning up peoples’ messes first, and there were still some elements of the build that had to be tweaked to come into alignment with best practices, but it was worth it for this solution that the CoE had never even thought to bring into Anaplan!
Hope that helps!
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And we’re live!! I hope you find this brief video useful in orienting yourself towards the most common steps of building an Anaplan CoE. And now I’m happy to dive into the details on any questions you have, either regarding the video, broader CoE development maturity curve, or any other topic you may want to discuss regarding your CoE. Don’t hold back Anaplan Community, Ask Me Anything!
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