How to scale enterprise-wide implementations with Lean-Agile methodologies


Nitesh Arora

Senior Director, Product Marketing and Strategy

This is the second in a series of three articles that discuss the role of Lean-Agile methodologies in the implementation and scaling of enterprise planning technologies.

To read part one, “The benefits of employing Lean-Agile methodologies,” click here.

In the first blog post in this series, we discussed we discussed the facets of a Lean-Agile approach and mindset. In this installment, we explore how organizations can employ these methodologies at scale and with success.

For many organizations, implementing Lean-Agile methodologies begins with smaller teams working on smaller development projects. Yet, as such businesses quickly realize, the same set of activities that worked well for an intimate group of people are not generally replicable at scale unless adjustments are made in the process.

What makes implementing Lean-Agile for larger projects and teams so much more difficult? To begin, small teams may not be closely aligned with the foundational principles of Lean-Agile. What’s more, project and technology implementations—particularly, those that are rooted in waterfall methodologies—condition many companies to expect a series of specific linear events. This summons a mindset shift for many organizations that seek to capitalize on Lean-Agile at scale.

The anticipation of these sequential events has ultimately trained businesses to approach implementations in an “operation overload” manner that not only hampers operational efficiencies and diminishes agility, but also causes timelines and projects to fail entirely.

For example, consider a business that doesn’t expect to see the true benefits of its new technology for two years—until after the implementation, from start to finish, is completed. Faced with a long wait time, there is a natural temptation to frontload implementations, and stuff every bell and whistle into the first release cycle.

As a result, the application can quickly become bloated and lead to a failed implementation. This makes the thought of executing multiple, more widespread implementations—expanding that same technology into other relevant business units within the enterprise—feel overwhelming, if not nearly impossible to achieve.

Encouragingly, we’ve observed that the adoption of Lean-Agile methodologies can reverse this more traditional mindset. Let’s look at how businesses can use the Lean-Agile methodology at scale to avoid cumbersome implementations and leverage technologies quickly across the entire enterprise with increased agility and speed.

First things first: scaling enterprise-wide implementations

The Anaplan platform is not only an Agile-inspired solution that offers drag and drop, point and click functionalities; an intuitive, iterative UI / UX; and rapid prototyping (among others). But, it is also a platform that has been designed to support highly-agile implementations for our customers.

Similar to the approach noted above, we’ve seen how implementing a new technology—and then scaling it enterprise-wide—can quickly turn exhaustive using traditional, waterfall approaches. This led us to develop the “Anaplan Way”—an Agile-inspired methodology that ensures complete transparency throughout every implementation phase. Above all, it puts collaboration, prioritization, and stakeholder buy-in ahead of any initial, tactical project planning.

In doing so, we better understand and better help our customers articulate the strategic vision they have for their application. The Anaplan Way follows a structured flow of events with specific phases and milestones, yet maintains the flexibility needed for quick, iterative releases that help enterprises achieve rapid time to value. Our approach includes five phases that define the critical steps of a successful implementation.

Further, there are four cornerstones that provide the foundation for the implementation of the Anaplan platform and they must be considered during all phases of the implementation: process, data, model, and deployment. Three levers of control provide flexibility to the project plan at controlled stages and, if needed, react to changes in requirements and priorities—keeping the project agile at all times.

By applying Lean-Agile methodologies to our implementation approach, we’ve been able to drastically reduce implementation periods in comparison to other legacy providers. While other enterprise planning technologies can take upwards of one to two years to roll out, our customers report an average implementation time of eight weeks.

More than just an implementation, Lean-Agile is also a mindset

While Lean-Agile methodologies can increase agility and time to value throughout the implementation phase, they also offer businesses much more. Applying Lean-Agile approaches across business operations can further allow cross-functional teams to act quickly, exhaust fewer resources, work more collaboratively, and deliver results that drive greater revenue opportunities.

Disruption, uncertainty, and a seemingly omnipresent need to evolve business models are urgent realities for virtually all enterprises. Applying a Lean-Agile mindset can help businesses make continuous, incremental changes to internal processes that drive ongoing operational improvements and deliver higher efficiencies.

Yet, large-scale employment of these methodologies can be intimidating. This is precisely where the value of a Connected Planning platform comes into play. Successfully scaling a Lean-Agile mindset summons agile-inspired technologies and approached, coupled with the ability to extend it throughout the entire enterprise.

Cloud-based Connected Planning platforms, such as the Anaplan platform, enable an organization to run virtually any planning process by connecting data, people, and plans in every part of a business. Further, it can scale these processes at any level, which strengthens collaboration and connecting planning activities across hundreds of processes and departments.

In the final post of this series, we will take a look at five well-established benefits of applying Lean-Agile methodologies.


To discover how Anaplan uses agile-inspired approaches, schedule a demo of our platform today.