How to enable another model builder: Key concepts and strategies in Anaplan

model building strategies

As an Anaplan consultant, partner, or internal expert model builder, you are tasked with architecting the solution. The successful deployment of this solution is vital to making (and keeping) Anaplan users happy. With that in mind, it’s important to ensure that at least one additional resource is enabled and capable of owning the Anaplan model post go-live. If you are that internal resource or are responsible for enabling that individual, read on. Below, I will share the four most critical elements to ensuring full enablement and adoption in an Anaplan deployment.

  1. Proper user story assignment
  2. The most important element of the enablement process is thoughtful assignment of user stories to the end user and/or model builder. Don’t just assign user stories based on their complexity. Instead, take the time to map out the high-level design of a given user story. Next, assign user stories to the user based on the significance of the fundamental concepts used in the execution of that user story. I have found that hierarchical relationships and aggregation formulas are the two main concepts to convey to a new Anaplanner, regardless of the type of use case.

  3. Fundamental model building concepts
  4. Aggregations and other formulas. SUM. LOOKUP. SELECT. ITEM / PARENT. Introduce these formulas to your model builder early and often. New Anaplanners, especially those experienced in Excel, will try to equate these to Excel formulas, and it’s our responsibility to ensure that they understand exactly how to use these formulas and how powerful they are. A good source of practical examples of these formulas is the Formula and Functions earning app, available on the Anaplan App Hub.

    Hierarchical relationships: hierarchies vs. properties. One of the obvious benefits of a multi-level hierarchy is the ability to roll up the data at any level of the hierarchy and drill into subtotals at any level. From a planning perspective, the power of a hierarchical relationship lies in the ability to drive top-down assumptions down to the lowest planning level. If a model builder can understand how to leverage this functionality (using the PARENT and LOOKUP formulas), they will realize the relative ease of changing assumptions at different planning levels long after you are gone.
    Lastly, we also need to convey the power of relating two dimensions via a list formatted property or line item. This enables infinite ways to aggregate data from a reporting perspective, and is a very powerful tool that drives home Anaplan’s value proposition.

  5. Upfront investment
  6. Emphasize to your users that their time building this model is an investment in themselves and in their company. By the same token, show them your commitment by investing your time working through their user stories with them, even if it appears to slow down the progress for your sprint. Your investment in your Anaplan resources and users in the first couple weeks of the implementation will pay real dividends over the course of your project as the users gets more comfortable operating in the platform independently.

  7. Dashboard tips and tricks
  8. The final key to long-term adoption is usability, both for the core team and for end users. As you are working with the core team to deploy the model, start by teaching them fundamental dashboard functionality (such as hierarchy synchronization). Once they have a basic understanding of that, show them the techniques that many Anaplanners use to create dynamic filters and views on dashboards, such as:

    Time filter module. Set up a module with line items that represent dynamic time period filters (e.g., rolling four quarters, months in current fiscal year, etc.). These will be used to create specific views across all of your administrative, planning, and reporting dashboards.

    List formatted line items filters. Typically, the best way to satisfy a requirement for an end user dashboard is via some type of dynamic filtering. For example, an end user might want to filter a headcount report for employees that are tagged to a certain entity. Show your users how to create a Boolean filter line item that responds to the selections made on another list-formatted line item. When publishing this type of pick list to a dashboard, the end user gets the feeling that they are querying the report on that dashboard.

At the end of the day, enabled end users and model builders will not only help get the implementation to the finish line, but will feel ownership over the application. When we teach Anaplan users how to fish, they will become internal champions that go on to solve more company challenges with Anaplan.

If you are already an Anaplan customer, download the Agile Implementation app to assist with project implementations. And if you are still considering Anaplan as your planning platform, read our latest paper to learn best practices to Anaplan readiness.

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