• How to start a Centre of Excellence for Anaplan in 7 steps

Continuous improvement is an effective approach to achieving the connected planning vision of the Anaplan platform. And this approach works even better if you organize continuous improvement from a Centre of Excellence for Anaplan. Discover our best practices for a Centre of Excellence. When do you start, and how?

By Stephan de Wit, March 2023

Why you need a Centre of Excellence

Your organization will reap the full benefits of the power of Anaplan if you connect multiple business units and departments to the platform. Bringing everyone into one system is the connected vision of Anaplan, enabling smooth collaboration and gaining integrated insights and even foresight within the entire organization. Also, this ensures that everyone can trust the same reliable, shared information.

Getting all business units and departments on board is no easy task and requires a long-term approach based on a solid Anaplan foundation and a continuous improvement roadmap.

Discover why a Centre of Excellence for Anaplan is vital to achieving the vision of a connected platform in Why continuous improvement is crucial if you’re using Anaplan.

When to start a Centre of Excellence for Anaplan

Contrary to what many people think, you should not start a Centre of Excellence before your first implementation project. It’s much better to start and finish a foundational planning project before you begin organizing your Centre of Excellence.

How to set up a Centre of Excellence in 7 steps

Based on best practices, we advise you to take these steps to start a Centre of Excellence for Anaplan:

1. First, create a business case for Anaplan and integrated business planning (if you haven’t done so)

Your organization probably insisted on a business case before investing in a Performance Management platform like Anaplan. And rightly so.

If you don’t have an approved business case yet, this is a good time to do so. Making a success out of an integrated business planning program will be much easier as the objectives, benefits, investments, and returns are clear.

2. Learn how to deal with multi-dimensionality

By implementing a specific business planning process first, you get a feel for the platform. Your team needs to learn how to handle the system, but above all, your organization needs to incorporate multi-dimensionality in its thinking. Learning how to apply multi-dimensionality can only be done by experiencing it hands-on. Also, you need to know how to adapt the highly flexible Anaplan platform to IT components in your organization that may be much more rigid.

All this will give you a solid foundation for the next step: the roadmap.

3. Establish a roadmap

You create the continuous improvement roadmap based on the business case and the experience gained during the first project. A roadmap is crucial as you have many different business units and functions to consider; it enables you to plan appropriately and communicate the overall vision and goals to the whole organization. Paradoxically, the teams whose business processes will be implemented last will need the roadmap most, as you need to keep everyone aligned and enthusiastic.

Make sure that your roadmap is based on continuous development. First, you implement the foundation and then adjust, optimize, and enhance each process. Incorporate a life cycle management approach into your roadmap to get increasingly more value out of the platform.

4. Introduce the concept of a Centre of Excellence

Ensure that all key decision makers that have a stake in making a success out of the Anaplan platform know why a Centre of Excellence is needed. Explain how one centralized team enables the organization to access in-depth knowledge of the platform and the integrated business planning processes. This expertise is scarce, and you need to plan resources carefully and well in advance.

Also, the Centre of Excellence will be the owner of the continuous improvement roadmap. With many different business owners, this helps ensure the program doesn’t stagnate once the first business owner has finished a project.

5. Find the right resources

As said, the expertise required for the Centre of Excellence is scarce. At the start, Finext consultants are often part of the team. Once the internal experts have enough expertise to handle the day-to-day activities, our presence will be reduced. Often, we remain part of the team on standby to answer more complicated requests, such as new multidimensional business planning models.

6. Formally start the Centre of Excellence

Embed the Centre of Excellence in the organizational structure. Ideally, the CoE has a place in the Office of the CFO. At this stage, start organizing user groups as well –motivated users you can request feedback from and define improvements with.

Plan testing, training, and regular communication with all stakeholders. All this will give you the structure to achieve the continuous improvement roadmap you established.

7. Ensure your Centre of Excellence keeps looking forward

Organizations increasingly need to look forward and react to unexpected situations. Anaplan can undoubtedly help you to do so. The Centre of Excellence should not only look at continuous development from a perspective of Life Cycle Management but also incorporate changes – both internal and external. This will increase the value for Anaplan and the Centre of Excellence and especially for the business teams striving for business improvement and competitive advantage.

Get the expected ROI from your Anaplan platform

Going back to the business case: you probably included an expected Return on Investment (ROI) for your Anaplan solution. Starting a Centre of Excellence helps you achieve the vision of connected planning and the expected ROI.

Planning, Budgeting & Forecasting Anaplan