6 tips for a successful Anaplan implementation
I’ve spent the last six years of my career leading projects and teams across Unum Group, a leader in employee benefits in the U.S. and U.K. I’ve worked in a variety of areas—including underwriting, claim operations, and corporate finance—and learned what makes a project succeed.
At the recent Innovation in Financial Services event held by Anaplan in New York, I shared Unum’s journey so far on how we are transforming our Global Financial Planning and Analysis function with the Anaplan platform. I also offered six tips, based on our experience, that can help any company succeed with an Anaplan implementation. They are:
- Develop your user experience vision from the get-go. This was a lesson we learned the hard way at Unum. We knew what we wanted the model to do, but we didn’t have a vision for our user’s experience. How would Anaplan work for super users, the CFO, senior leaders, and others? What are their landing page experiences? How much information should they get from the start? How do we increase that over time? It’s important to answer those questions at the outset of your journey.
- Engage proactively with your audit team to develop an initial risk assessment. This risk assessment will help guide your security and data governance framework. You know you’ll need to do this eventually, so it makes sense to get the audit team on board as soon as possible. They’ll help you make the right decisions the first time.
- Gather and discuss current and future data requirements before kickoff. Again, this is something that you know you’ll need to do eventually, so do it before you get rolling. You need to think hard about the data you need today, as well as the data you might need tomorrow, because your Anaplan model will change. I can promise you that, based on experience—and it’s a good thing.
- Leverage your Anaplan customer success team. These people have been around the block a time or two, and they have probably seen a problem or challenge like the ones you think are impossible. If they haven’t solved it themselves, they will find somebody else who has; alternatively, I encourage you to engage with your peers in the Anaplan Community.
- Become comfortable with The Anaplan Way. You will constantly evolve and enhance your models, and you’ll find that Anaplan regularly delivers platform updates, so you really should own your Anaplan implementation. Not only that, but your thinking is going to be constantly challenged—as you learn more and more about the Anaplan platform, you’ll realize there are many things you can do differently. Internalizing the philosophy and work-style of the Anaplan Way makes this constant change easier, more efficient, and even fun.
- Make incentives for, and recognition of, your team a daily discipline. Yes, daily. You’re moving fast when you’re working with Anaplan, and the thank-yous and recognition of individuals going above and beyond need to be doled out accordingly. It’s important to celebrate the small wins along the way, and to pause every so often and reflect on the success so far. Doing this positively affects team dynamics and constantly reminds folks how much they have accomplished.
I mentioned earlier that my presentation in New York was about how my team is on its way to transforming Unum’s Global FP&A with Anaplan. I want to add one note: This isn’t change for change’s sake; the work we are doing has delivered value to the company. And it’s just the beginning: We have a phased plan to expand use of the Anaplan platform to further integrate key finance and operational planning processes to drive increased value across the enterprise. All the work we’re doing today, using the tips above, will help make the coming phases even more successful.
As you go down your Anaplan journey, also consider these five best practices to implementing the Anaplan platform.
Anaplan CTO and Founder Michael Gould (@gould66) kicks off our Innovation in #Finance event this afternoon in #NewYork. pic.twitter.com/HScnfVKJMW
— Anaplan (@anaplan) May 9, 2017