Center of excellence (CoE) best practices

Matthew Wysocki, Anaplan Architect of Mars, shares valuable insights, best practices, and lessons learned in building and managing an Anaplan center of excellence (CoE) for its retail consumer brand, providing valuable guidance for anyone looking to optimize their Anaplan footprint and drive business success.

James O’Leary 0:00:03.1
Okay, so great, thanks everybody for joining, and thank you for Mars for the candy. That’s, of course, without that where would we be? Matt, maybe before we get going, just a bit of your background and your journey with Anaplan that led you to where you are today, so folks have some context.

Matt Wysocki 0:00:19.5
Yes, absolutely, so I’m Matt Wysocki. Is this thing on?

Jonathan Weikel 0:00:23.9
I think so.

Matt Wysocki 0:00:24.8
Okay. Matt Wysocki, I started within Anaplan back in 2019. At Coca-Cola, started as an auto builder, built some models there for, I guess, about three years and then in November of 2022 decided to make the jump from Coca-Cola over to Mars to build out Anaplan CoE within their digital technologies or IT department, and been working here, I guess, almost two years now and excited to tell you a little bit about our CoE and our best practices, and how we’re set up for success.

James O’ Leary 0:01:01.3
And Jonathan, maybe just a bit of your history with Anaplan and how you’ve been working with Mars over the last couple of years.

Jonathan Weikel 0:01:08.8
Sure, Jonathan Wiekel, customer success business partner. I’ve been with Anaplan for just over seven years now. I’ve been working with Mars in particular since early 2000 I believe it was when FP&A started working with us, so been along the whole ride.

James O’Leary 0:01:27.4
Awesome, so for the purpose of this conversation, as you know, we’re going to talk about CoE and what it means to run and operate a CoE, and how Mars operates their CoE with a level of success. For those of you who are Anaplan customers, you know there’s a lot to think about when you manage an Anaplan footprint. So, to start the conversation, and to frame it back to a set of pillars that hopefully you will all remember when you leave the room, I think there’s a next slide. I’m going to introduce what we call at Anaplan our Value Assurance Framework. This is a set of six pillars that we rolled out earlier maybe end of this year and have been sort of introducing more to our customers throughout the first part of this year, and we will use as a foundational asset to help frame what success looks like when you adopt the Anaplan platform. These are a mix of technical pillars of excellence, but also functional pillars of excellence.

James O’Leary 0:02:29.9
What we’ve learned over a decade or more of supporting customers on Anaplan journeys is that there are pillars of success that go beyond just building a cool model. As a CoE, I think, when we were talking/preparing for this conversation, these pillars are very much at the core of what drives CoE success, which is at the core of what drives Anaplan success. The way that I like to think about Anaplan, a lot of times customers will buy Anaplan to solve a business problem and they’ll conduct a project, and the goal is to complete a project to solve the business problem, but then quickly realize that what they’ve purchased is not just a technology or a capability to solve a discreet problem, or execute just a project and then move on, but it’s a product actually that you own. With that product, you can do many things. The key to doing many things scalably and successfully with Anaplan is a strong CoE, and so as we go through the conversation today, we’re going to anchor on some of these key pillars and tie them back to CoE success as well as Anaplan success.

James O’Leary 0:03:39.8
Before we get into the heart of the discussion, I think it’s really important to give context to what Mars has done with Anaplan, the size and scale of the footprint that you have, where you’re deployed, because when the audience hears that it’s going to tie back to how you think about managing an extensive footprint. Matt, as we have the Value Assurance pillars on the screen behind us, can you talk about your footprint at Mars and what that looks like, and then we’ll pick into how these pillars relate to supporting that ecosystem?

Matt Wysocki 0:04:12.6
Yes, absolutely. So, currently today at Mars we have about seven or eight different models, but really four call it use cases of deployment, so we can bucket it up into a forecasting capability that’s backed by AI and machine learning. With that, we have a scenario planning model that kind of sits next to it so that the machine creates a baseline forecast for our different businesses around the world. We can then allow the associates to layer in inflexion points that the machine might not know about. That’s kind of the first deployment on forecasting capability. We’ve also got a handful of planning models that usually take place at the end of the year, and it’s kind of like a phased planning, so you go from higher level down to lower level from both a unit and an account structure, and how do we connect those models to get the most out of 1) the tool, and, 2) the richest data for the planning process, and tell that story of the evolution of the plan. We’ve also got a CAPEX alpha model that Joe actually owns – he’s from here.

Matt Wysocki 0:05:38.8
He has built and given us a lot of great product requirements to capture our capital expenditures, and it’s billions and billions of dollars that we can both evaluate internal rate of return on our projects, but also provide a place for workflow approval to happen because, when you’re approving that many funds, that much money, you need to make sure, be very clear that your investments are in the right places. Then the last model that we have going live, or that is live, is the cash FX model, which is backed by AI, but allows us to forecast different cash accounts, and also make sure that we are forecasting FX rates to try to do business around the world where we’re going to get favorable rates. That is the footprint, a lot of different use cases and a huge ecosystem for us to try to wrangle and make sure that we’re handling it the best way that we possibly can.

James O’ Leary 0:06:45.9
And, Matt, how many users in aggregate across the platform do you have? How many customers do you have touching the platform?

Matt Wysocki 0:06:52.3
Yes, I mean we’re definitely, we’re in the thousands. We’ve hit a thousand and we’re growing. I’m sure we’ll talk to the future in just a second, but it’s a huge operation that we’re trying to run, and I think we’ve learned a lot of good lessons for how to do that in the most efficient way possible.

James O’Leary 0:07:12.3
And you’re coming from what, as a predecessor set of capabilities that you were doing prior to Anaplan spreadsheets, Softline, emails?

Matt Wysocki 0:07:22.2
Yes, it was a lot of spreadsheets. We actually service the corporate FP&A team, so there’s a lot of planning activities that happen and spreadsheets at a lower level, like outside of the business. At the end of the day, they have to get it into our corporate tool, but what Anaplan does really nicely for us is it helps us consolidate, and then model that data a little bit better to drive insights and make better decision-making.

James O’Leary 0:07:55.2
So, from a catalyst perspective that drove the change of why you went from the old ways of working to the new ways of working, and I know you’ve been on this journey for several years, can you share what the driver, the primary driver for change? Was it accuracy? Was it speed/agility? Where was Mars struggling to the point that they recognized we’ve got a thousand people in the organization who need to work better, and we need to enable that way of working?

Matt Wysocki 0:08:25.8
Yes, I’d say on the forecasting side, definitely the need for accuracy with introducing a machine to get us 80/85 per cent of the way and let the associates do the rest to make sure that we have the best forecast at any given point in time. It’s funny, our machine is about 95 per cent accurate, so we’re almost to the point where we’re like maybe we don’t need to have any overlay on top, but, of course, you give that option, and with the scenario planning that Anaplan runs itself to, it’s very nice to be able to go in and say, ‘This is what the machine recommended. This is what my new forecast looks like when I overlay risks and assumptions to my business. This is where the differences are.’ It really creates and drives that dialogue to allow us to have the best forecast for the business, and then the company when you roll it all out. That was on the AI side was accuracy. I would say on the planning side of the house, it was speed. We are now doing things, especially on the reporting side.

Matt Wysocki 0:09:38.4
You know, we just had our big submission back in February, and I think, within an hour, we’d turnkey had our presentation ready to go in front of the board and the leadership team to show what our numbers were going to be for the year, and I mean previously to wrangle in that much data and spreadsheets would have taken at least a week if you got super Excel users, so the speed on the planning side has been huge. Then, I think for capital, honestly, just having it tracked in one spot, like one tool, enterprise tool where every business project owner goes in and makes a case for why they need the money, and then it can flow all the way end-to-end to actually delivering on the capital expenditure has been huge for us.

James O’Leary 0:10:33.1
So, you’re prioritizing how you are actually deploying capital in the business based on the ROIs that you expect to see?

Matt Wysocki 0:10:36.9
Yes, and then you can tie it into where should the growth come from. If we’re investing X amount of dollars in these factories at this business, we ought to see more sales from that, so having it all tied/connected is huge for us.

James O’Leary 0:10:54.4
And does it keep the conversation connected? I think the points now that you just made around speed, accuracy, being able to prioritize investment and make the best decision, that’s from an Anaplan perspective how we think about defining success metrics. Be clear about what you want to do and why you want to do it because then it gives you purpose when you actually execute, and you can come back and measure, was I successful? In terms of the solution set that you mentioned, forecasting, capital, sort of a top-down/bottom-up planning process, takes a lot of skill, resources, talent, and know-how to manage an ecosystem with that many users, and that breadth of solution set out there. As an organization that I’m sure is always innovating as well as sustaining your existing product footprint, you undoubtedly have to manage things like enhancements and defects while you’re also building new capabilities.

James O’Leary 0:11:59.1
Anaplan, for those who use Anaplan, know that we use an ALM capability to do this. We also know that there are some challenges around managing defects, enhancements, as well as a new development, you have to be pretty sophisticated in your process, at least governed in your process. Can you talk about how you do that at Mars, and do that successfully?

Matt Wysocki 0:12:19.9
Yes, absolutely, so we definitely utilize ALM, and to give you a quick, small history. When I joined Mars and are still leveraging Deloitte as a business partner for our dev ops capability, and their team installed some really good rigor around exactly what you’re talking about, for any model that’s already operational we minimize the development work that we’re actually doing in those models, and we limit it to really trying to work two weeks out of each month on enhancements. Usually, the first two weeks of the month are reserved for running data in and out, troubleshooting any bugs that might come in, but then the last two weeks are all spent around an enhancement sprint, that’s what we call it. We partner very closely with our product owners that are constantly grooming their backlogs in Dura to make sure that what they are hearing from end users gets implemented, and we can show them that we’re listening and we’re meeting their needs, so we have these sessions to determine what does every product owner want to get done for the month? Then we can then go in and assign level of effort to it, look at all of the resources we have at our disposal, and then make the decision for what’s in scope.

Matt Wysocki 0:13:48.0
Everyone is clearly aligned to what new functionality is going to be released, and we follow this Cadence pretty much every month. Now, I came from a company that didn’t necessarily have this rigor and it was more agile, but that’s beside the point. I have tried to introduce more agile processes to how we handle ourselves as a CoE. If we want to start developing some things earlier in week two, we can do that. If we get to the end of the development sprint and there is extra bandwidth, we can add more in, we’re not just limiting ourselves to what we said we would deliver. Obviously, it’s better to deliver more than less, but when you’re thinking about taking on more you have to evaluate those risks and ensure that you’re not guaranteeing something that you can’t actually deliver.

James O’Leary 0:14:48.7
And do you have a framework where you think about adding a completely new dashboard which is independent and doesn’t require a structural change to an existing part of the model that’s much lower risk versus, I’m going to modify a formula that’s already embedded throughout the calculation process? Do you have different levels of controls and standards around types of changes that you make?

Matt Wysocki 0:15:13.0
Yes, I’m actually really glad you asked that because we just came out of a work session last week where we brought together the business that we support, and then the Anaplan CoE team, and part of what we were presenting to the business is like types of changes and what’s easy versus what’s hard because, to someone who’s not technical, they might not know that what they’re asking for is super challenging. Then they also might refrain from asking for something that’s actually a task and could be done in ten minutes. We do and have tried to put regular and best practices in play to educate what’s hard and what’s not.

James O’Leary 0:15:57.0
Just maybe a show of hands, how much does this description resonate with those in the audience? Yes, okay. Helpful? Are we – it’s good intel, yes. In terms of how you structured your team to execute this work, your CoE, that’s sort of the central team versus resources or stakeholders that sit in the different parts of the business that you interface with, can you talk about your team structure, the size of the team relative to what maybe sits in the business as a federated model?

Matt Wysocki 0:16:29.3
Yes, so I have a team of three model builders that handle the development work. I also alluded to utilizing Deloitte as a third party. They’re primarily running our dev ops program, which is more of those minor enhancements on the operational models, running data in, data out and bug fixes. What we’ve tried to structure is our team focus more on the new capability and deployments. We have found success with that. I think any time that you take over an inherent model that you didn’t build, there is a natural kind of handshake of when you can start to wean off and when you actually need, or do you need that support from the original model builder, so we feel like we’re in a good place now with a team of me, plus three, and then we have probably 20 Deloitte folks on that dev ops team. Not all model buildings, I’d say two of them are solution architects, one on the Anaplan side and the other on the data side. Then we’ve got a lead model builder from Deloitte on the US side, and one on the USI side, and then a handful of other model builders in India that are helping us hit our goals.

Matt Wysocki 0:18:07.6
We manage it in an agile way too. If there are not a lot of net new projects coming down the pipeline, then that just means that there’s more capacity to do some of the periodic enhancement work, or monthly enhancement work that we do. When we’re in times where it’s crunch time and we need to roll up our sleeves and get something out the door for a deployment for maybe the plan that we have to submit to the board, then we’ll pull resources from that dev ops team and get them up-to-speed really quickly on being able to step in, complete user stories, get it across the finish line. I’ll say that documentation on those processes, and being able to rotate resources in and out, is huge. If you don’t have that, you’re not going to get that benefit of having a large team, you are going to just be siloed, and you never want to be siloed with anything within Anaplan I like to think. That’s the technical side, but then I could keep talking about our partnership with the business, and so our product owners sit within our corporate FP&A and are not in the Anaplan CoE, but we like to consider ourselves as one team with a common goal of delivering value to the end user.

Matt Wysocki 0:19:30.3
We did a lot of rework last year on how do we set up our ways of working, and our operating model to move faster on new deployments. That goes from having a week/two-week session with the business before we kick off a project to say, ‘Here are the requirements. This is how it should look.’ All of the discovery work – I almost blanked on that word – but do a robust discovery. Then, from a technical side, you kind of know what the hard parts are in Anaplan, so you start to ask those questions earlier on in the process rather than later when you’re not going to have time to actually deliver because you’ve backed yourself into an architectural corner, and you have to get creative and try to figure things out on the fly. Then you just move into that sprint work with leveraging Dura, one source of truth for all of that, moving into your UAT, getting your end users testing it, making your final tweaks and then deploying a solution that works for everybody.

James O’Leary 0:20:41.3
So, I think, first of all, thanks for sharing all that, and then just, again, to anchor back to the framework, skills and resources really important, methodology around how you deploy, when you deploy, being governed, being intentional, understanding what changes you can make that are low risk versus ones that are more impactful, and you have to be more thoughtful about managing, are all part of success. Matt, you’ve talked about the enhancement piece of the work that you do. What are you, as a team, looking at in terms of both future projects in use cases, and how are you thinking about giving the team structure today, resourcing, or adding resources to support an expanding footprint?

Matt Wysocki 0:21:31.4
Yes, good question, a lot of what we talked about last week, so it’s relevant and top of mind. We know that in our planning use case, we can do more around connected planning. Even within the ecosystem, we have today, we can leverage data from other models to show, where should the growth come from. How do we set targets at a top level and cascade those targets down in a way that makes sense, and resonates with the end users that sit in these divisions that ultimately have to hit the targets? So, that’s the starting point really to think about expanding out into the business, and outside of just corporate, but I mentioned earlier that our tool could potentially be seen to some as a corporate submission tool, like, ‘Look, I do all of my work in Excel, why do I have to load it into your Anaplan?’ So, there is further we can do to get these businesses actually in Anaplan themselves to do all your modelling there and then create that connected environment that integrates all of the good work they’ve done in finance to connect to our global corporate model. That’s just finance.

Matt Wysocki 0:22:53.7
As we know, the honeycomb chart is key, and it guides you to what you should be looking at to get the most value out of connected planning in Anaplan. Once that finance use case happens at that business level, they’ll be better suited to start layering in things like demand planning, SNOP, RGM, TPM, all of our favorite acronyms that really drive the business and continue to get more value. Because we are a, call it a global corporate CoE, what we need to be very mindful of is how do we interact with these separate businesses that are going to implement. How do we give them the lessons learned, the operating model? Anything that can speed up their Anaplan journey and avoid mistakes, we want to be there for, even if it’s not us building – and we’re a team of three, if we could build it all I would love to, but at this stage, we can’t, so how do we best support them from a technical standpoint, and a business standpoint to get to our goals faster? I think that’s a key area. The second one, when we think more of like enterprise tools, so CAPEX being an example, how do we get into workforce planning and partner with our HR?

Matt Wysocki 0:24:16.5
There are huge benefits to having your workforce planning in the same platform as where you’re doing your finance because there’s just natural overlap that’s going to help in making that planning process a lot easier, so how can we potentially wire in and support that? Then the last one is on sustainability actually where Mars has a huge sustainability initiative, and how do we capture the pillars and the activities that we are embarking on to see the good change that’s going to happen? The next step is seeing how that ties into your financials and your P&L and trying to marry all that together. A lot of work to go do, and really excited to see it all come together, but I think having this foundation allows you to start looking out into the business, or into another hexagon of the honeycomb.

James O’Leary 0:25:22.0
Kind of putting together the threads of what you said, value creation is driving where you’re looking for opportunities to continue to connect the business or use Anaplan to solve business problems. In order to do that, you need to educate the stakeholders and get them bought into the capabilities that Anaplan can offer that, in the example, right now some people are just submitting data to Anaplan, but they could be actually doing their planning and connecting it into the corporate system. That takes a level of education, awareness, time to spend with stakeholders, you could call that change management or of the leading indicator, they’re leading the first step in driving change management, so that, when you do deploy, you have a successful program of adoption to the solution that you build. Can you talk about how you sort of think about change management as a pillar of your success, and where you’ve seen good examples of partnership with the business to go from that initial stage of awareness through to commitment, follow-through adoption and then functional use being the outcome?

Matt Wysocki 0:26:39.2
We usually like to start with the why, so if you can’t communicate why you’re changing, and you can’t do that very successfully, then you’ve already lost that end user that is going to have to make the change and potentially abandon their spreadsheets that they love so much, so communicating the way. That’s where we really rely on the business CoE and that partnership to do a lot of that education, and creating the training materials, and leading the sessions of, ‘Okay, here’s why we’re building the Anaplan tool. Now we’ve built the Anaplan tool, here’s how you use it, and here, I’ll lead you through the training,’ so that’s huge for adoption. I would say that on the why, it doesn’t always have to be tool driven. Anaplan is a great tool, but I think what it allows you to do is think through the process as well, so how you change your process with the tool you’ve selected to get the desired outcome. What you’ll find is a lot of the times you can simplify it, and when you simplify it, it means becoming more efficient. When you become more efficient, you gain back all of these hours that you wouldn’t have had before to do things to really drive the business, and maybe focus on strategy or focus on whatever you want to do with that free time that you’ve solved. Communicating the benefits is huge. You’ve already kind of lost someone if you’re just talking to them and they have to think, well, what is actually in it for me if I embrace and adopt this? That’s another piece that I think we leveraged to try to both grow our used cases and grow adoption of our existing use cases.

James O’Leary 0:28:37.6
I would link those back to the top two pillars again, having the right sponsorship and the right leadership to set the vision, and having clear success criteria or outcomes in mind that make the change relevant to the stakeholders who have to give up their spreadsheets maybe, but with the outcome of being more time to do higher-value activities. I think our framework has served us well to connect the dots between, I think, what a CoE – maybe traditionally you can think about a CoE as being a technical Centre of Excellence, but I actually think, as you become Anaplan product owners and you really want to focus on driving value in the business, you have to think beyond just the technical configuration and think about alignment with the business on the business problems that you’re solving, the value that comes from them, how you articulate that value to stakeholders whose ways of working may be impacted. That takes a lot of leadership, it takes a lot of skill and expertise, but the outcomes can be quite large.

James O’Leary 0:29:45.7
Productivity, real dollar impact in terms of forecast accuracy and allocation of capital to high ROI projects, so serving two purposes here, educating everybody in the room on the Value Assurance Framework, but seeing how it actually is a framework, not only for Anaplan success, but CoE success. I might ask you, Jonathan, you’ve been at Anaplan, around Anaplan for seven plus years, given your observations of the journey that Mars has been on relative to other customers, where do you see really standout examples of success or mistakes where you see other customers making mistakes where Mars has navigated through that more effectively?

Jonathan Weikel 0:30:32.9
Well, I don’t want to take away from the impact Matt individually has had, so that was the biggest change. Up until almost two years ago, we were going through some of those growing pains with Mars where they were trying to figure out how to best manage this platform that they knew multiple areas of their business owned that weren’t really talking that well together when you think back. It used to be that the use cases Matt’s talking about were all owned by different individuals, every one of them, even the ones within corporate FP&A, so when Matt came in, one of the first things you really did was consolidate ownership of everything and give everybody kind of a framework then to follow. I think that was the biggest thing was really forcibly putting the framework around it. I know you said that some of that came from Deloitte, from working with them, that when you came in you said, ‘Wow, that’s a lot more rigorous than what I had to do at Coke, and I don’t know that I really want to do that,’ but you did it and over a couple of cycles. You realized, well, okay, that kind of works, you know, so putting that into place, but then bringing your own Anaplan savvy to the whole thing to now reach out to other members of your group and say, ‘Hey, you didn’t think about this maybe to do with it and that,’ which I really appreciate.

Jonathan Weikel 0:31:58.6
That’s one of the things CoEs bring to companies too. It’s not just your technical ability, or even your ability to follow everything else, it’s your own experience that you and your whole team are bringing. You all come from multiyear Anaplan backgrounds, right, so now Mars doesn’t just have a technical CoE, they have all of these advisers internally that they can now rely on, plus they have just your savvy of being able to say, ‘Hey, this is something else I have an idea on.’ Most of our customers don’t know what they don’t know.

James O’Leary 0:32:34.1
I often describe the CoE not as a CoE, as an innovation hub.

Jonathan Weikel 0:32:40.3

James O’Leary 0:32:40.1
Because I think it is where you can have some of the best and brightest, and from that group, you drive innovation in the business. If you have the technical knowledge, and you have a functional knowledge of what the business is doing, you have a vision to drive an economic impact on the organization that you’re a part of, you actually become an innovation center. It’s not a configuration team, it’s an innovation team. Yes, I don’t know how we’re doing on time, but we do have large M&M packs for those who are willing to ask questions.

Matt Wysocki 0:33:11.0
A couple of KIND bars too.

James O’Leary 0:33:12.9
Yes, peanut and regular M&Ms, so you have your choice, but we can only handle so many questions. We have our first M&M packet. You have to decide, peanut or regular first.

Audience 0:33:25.3
Yes, I’ll do peanut.

James O’Leary 0:33:26.3
Peanut, all right.

Matt Wysocki 0:33:27.1
Good choice.

Audience 0:33:28.9
So, what was your biggest struggle trying to do delivery, and how did you overcome it?

Matt Wysocki 0:33:36.4
Finding the talent. Do you want a different answer, you know?

Audience 0:33:45.4
I can’t get more than just how did you…?

Matt Wysocki 0:33:48.0
How did you find it?

Audience 0:33:49.5]
Anybody internal that you were able to build up?

Matt Wysocki 0:33:52.4

Audience 0:33:54.5
…Effort on it?

Matt Wysocki 0:33:55.4
So, it, I think, is 100 per cent easier to take an analyst in the business with the knowledge that is maybe Excel savvy, that knows how to model outside of Anaplan and teach them how to do it is going to be the easiest way because, while there aren’t a whole lot of model builders out in the world for how quickly Anaplan is growing, it allows you to eliminate the business, the lack of business knowledge to be able to hire internal and just train them up. If you have a team that already knows how to do it, and knows how to do it at your company, it’s way easier to scale, so now if we were to bring in another person or two, we now have four people at Mars that can teach how to do it versus when I was hiring, and I was looking for three and coaching all three of them up. It is the hardest to start, but if you aren’t finding the candidates you want externally, I strongly recommend tapping somebody that’s already internally and showing them the career you can have with knowing the skill and adding value that way.

James O’Leary 0:35:22.0
Who wants M&Ms?

Audience 0:35:24.5
All right.

James O’Leary 0:35:25.0
All right.

Audience 0:35:27.1
Could you talk a little bit about executive sponsorship, how you built that relationship and your proposal, for example, of just building two weeks out of the month? Honestly, a lot of my colleagues will say that they would love to do that, but they’re unable to, they’re kind of high hamstrung by the business, and they just don’t have the kind of tie with the executive leadership that they would like. I mean, it probably comes back to communication, but I was just curious if you have any accolades or moments that were really great for that.

Matt Wysocki 0:35:58.1
I would ask a question back, like so are you already implementing Anaplan, you’re promoting just whatever you develop and then you promote these changes as soon as they’re done?

Audience 0:36:14.3
I work with the business to define when they are build-ready to do it, but they’re never ready to do it, so it just kind of snowballs until we have like a really giant package that we’re trying to push, and then the risk goes up as the more features you pack in, then something will go wrong.

Matt Wysocki 0:36:32.3
Yes, I was thinking that of the opposite. I thought that you guys will be pushing all the time, but no, you wait, wait, wait, and then push a huge release.

Audience 0:36:42.7
Yes, oftentimes.

Matt Wysocki 0:36:45.0

Audience 0:36:45.3
Other times it just depends. Again, it could be back to just whatever the business feels like, and so I’d love to know how you did lock them into some sort of agreement. [Laughter]

Audience 0:37:02.7
You’re made to work [unclear words 0:37:02.8].

Matt Wysocki 0:37:03.7
Yes. No, I mean, honestly, with any product you need governance, and anything that you’re releasing new functionality to, if you don’t have some rough level of governance and expectation it’s just hard to build a reliable product because you just don’t really know what’s going to happen. I mean, I guess I haven’t had this problem because I walked into a pretty governed model, but I do imagine that executive leadership would help with that of like, ‘Guys, you guys are delivering this great product, but it’s making people anxious like not really knowing when things are coming,’ or you’re pushing 100 provision tags that you then have to comb through the comparison log because it’s hard to know what is actually breaking something when you’re promoting that much. I mean, every one of our revision tags is tied to a user story that’s tied in Dura so that you know exactly what is being pushed, and I would think that, even if you are pushing a lot of user stories, you can still try to peel back that onion, but if you can’t get that executive sponsorship to get on at Cadence, I would recommend tying revision tags to user stories to see that and get that good documentation.

James O’Leary 0:38:34.2
Yes, and another suggestion, or following that thread, if you can help the business see the incremental value of delivering three user stories over a two-week period and they get something that they’d otherwise have to wait three months for, and you can help them see that there’s a stepping-stone approach to innovation that actually meets their needs, or gives them something that they don’t have today that they would benefit from, tie to their interest. They may have ten enhancements that they’ve asked for, and you could deliver those in six months or you could deliver one every two weeks over six months so they’re seeing incremental value faster, and that translates into my job just got better, I’m working more effectively, I’m delivering insights to people that I need to do that to. I think aligning it to their interests and help them see that smaller chunks actually translate into bigger, faster time to value for them. It’s probably a bit of a wrestling match to get started. Yes.

Audience 0:39:38.0
Yes, I’ll just chime in as like said on one of the products, I think one thing that’s helped is bringing them into the priority organization discussion too, so that they can see, like manage expectations, ‘Hey, this is what we’re going to do in the next month, you can expect this on a three-month timeline.’ That way they can weigh in and help us prioritize things in our backlog. Then, also, we can try to bring more flexibility if needed if they say, ‘Look, that three-month timeline you just gave isn’t going to cut it because we need to push this live in a month,’ we can then reshuffle and Matt will figure out how to do this, but we can reshuffle the resources we have to bring those things forward. Once they see those results, like you said, being delivered on a consistent basis, I think it’s an easier selling point that, ‘Hey, this governance model is the way to go,’ rather than just asking for things and not having a clear agreement on when they can expect them to be coming into production, so I think that’s helped too. Sorry.

James O’Leary 0:40:39.4

Audience 0:40:48.3
Yes, for Matt, I liked where you’re going on kind of peeling back the onion talking about Dura. I think some of the complexity that we have around pushing like around break-fix or enhancements, right, we’ll push something and then a month later we’ll find out that whatever we pushed broke something, right, and there is no way to go – well, we don’t have. I guess, is there a method that you use to be able to tie the ticketed self-endurer back to the formula that is in Anaplan?

Matt Wysocki 0:41:29.3
Yes, it’s a good question. What we do a lot in our modules is, or in our models, is if you need new modules to support a user story, we’ll create down at the very bottom a module with no data that’s just called FFP-1287, that’s your user story. You create your modules down there, and then you can build formulas, layer it in that way, and so you’ll generally know then if what you’ve pushed broke something by that’s what you introduced that was new. We’ll do the same thing if it’s not new modules we’re creating, but it’s just new line items of just down at the very end, just a line item, no data, user story name and then put it in that way. If we’re changing formulas, we’ll leverage the notes section, put the old one there – most people probably know that one – but I think significant testing is what’s the key because the quicker you can find it, the quicker you can fix it. That’s what we rely on a lot with our UAT process, like we’ll do cross-testing so not who develops it doesn’t do the testing, we’ll have some of the Deloitte team do the testing. We’ll test theirs. Then it goes to the business to test. Then you eventually roll it out and, yes, we’re humans, we’re not robots so we’re going to make mistakes, but the quicker you can find that easier just to fix it.

Unknown Speaker 0:43:18.7
We’re out of time. First, I want to thank Matt and James and Jonathan.


Matthew Wysocki, Anaplan Architect, Mars

James O'Leary, Vice President of Customer Success, Anaplan

Jonathan Weikel, Principal Business Partner, Anaplan