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How to Develop an Anaplan Center of Excellence

Anaplan Center of Excellence

Anaplan is an incredibly powerful platform for business planning and forecasting across different functions and departments in an organization. However, many businesses struggle to maximize the potential of Anaplan due to a lack of standardized processes, training, and governance.

As organizations strive to implement connected planning and make smarter data-driven decisions, a key factor in the success of these initiatives is having a well-established Anaplan Center of Excellence (COE).

An Anaplan COE acts as the nucleus, bringing together Anaplan experts, business leaders, and end-users to create a unified vision and strategy for the platform's deployment and utilization within an organization.

With a well-established Anaplan COE, organizations can drive successful implementations, enhance user adoption, and achieve their planning objectives, ultimately setting themselves up for long-term success in a dynamic world.

In this article, we'll dive into:

The Purpose of an Anaplan COE

The primary purpose of an Anaplan Center of Excellence (COE) is to maximize the value of Anaplan by creating a centralized team responsible for driving the successful implementation and adoption of Anaplan within an organization.

A COE ensures that best practices are followed, provides guidance and support to users, and facilitates continuous improvement. This includes establishing governance and control over Anaplan models, ensuring alignment with the business strategy, promoting collaboration and knowledge sharing among Anaplan model builders, and optimizing the organization's investment in Anaplan.

This centralized team usually comprises experienced Anaplan users, business analysts, IT professionals, and executive sponsors who work collaboratively on several core functions, including:

  • Creating and enforcing Anaplan governance policies and guidelines

  • Developing and sharing best practices, standards, and templates

  • Facilitating and delivering Anaplan training for users at every level

  • Managing Anaplan development, maintenance, and upgrades efficiently

  • Ensuring proper communication and alignment between business functions and stakeholders

By investing in an Anaplan COE, you can expect to enjoy a wide range of benefits, including:

  • Increased user adoption and proficiency in Anaplan

  • More efficient and consistent planning processes

  • Better visibility into data and insights

  • Reduced risk of errors and data inconsistencies

  • Faster implementation of changes and updates

  • Higher ROI on your Anaplan investment

  • Greater collaboration and alignment across departments

How an Anaplan Center of Excellence Works

Common Challenges Faced When Implementing a COE

When organizations embark on the journey to implement a Center of Excellence (COE), they often encounter a range of challenges that can impact the effectiveness of this strategic initiative.

  1. Lack of Leadership Support: Without strong support from top leadership, a COE can struggle to gain the necessary resources and authority to be effective. Leadership needs to understand the value a COE brings and actively champion its efforts.

  2. Scope Creep: COEs can become overburdened with too many responsibilities or areas of focus. This can dilute their effectiveness and cause burnout among staff. Clear, well-defined scopes are crucial.

  3. Inadequate Training: Even with skilled professionals, a lack of proper training or knowledge sharing can hinder the COE's effectiveness. Knowledge transfer within the COE and to other parts of the organization is essential.

  4. Alignment with Business Objectives: The COE's goals and activities must align closely with the organization's strategic objectives. A misalignment can lead to wasted resources and efforts.

  5. Measurement and Accountability: Establishing key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics to assess the COE's impact is essential. Without clear measurements, it's challenging to demonstrate the value of the COE to the organization.

  6. Communication Challenges: Effective communication is crucial for the success of a COE. This includes not only communicating the COE's goals and progress but also ensuring that it collaborates effectively with other departments.

  7. Sustainability: Over time, COEs can lose momentum or relevance if they are not continuously adapting to changing business needs and technologies. Regular reviews and adjustments are necessary to keep the COE effective.

Addressing these challenges requires careful planning, ongoing commitment, and a willingness to adapt as circumstances change. Successful COEs are those that can navigate these obstacles and demonstrate their value to the organization.

A Guide to Establish an Anaplan Center of Excellence (COE)

While each COE is unique, building an Anaplan Center of Excellence (COE) involves several essential steps to ensure its successful implementation and long-term effectiveness. Here is a step-by-step guide:

  1. Define the COE's objectives: Clearly articulate the goals and objectives of the Anaplan COE. Identify the specific outcomes you want to achieve, such as driving user adoption, standardizing processes, and ensuring ongoing support and governance.

  2. Assemble a dedicated team: Form a dedicated team responsible for establishing and managing the COE. This team should consist of individuals with expertise in Anaplan, as well as a solid understanding of the organization's planning and business processes.

  3. Identify key stakeholders: Identify the key stakeholders who will be involved in the Anaplan COE. This may include executives, department heads, business analysts, and end-users. Engage with these stakeholders to gain their support and involvement in the COE's activities.

  4. Develop a governance framework: Establish a governance framework that outlines the roles, responsibilities, and decision-making processes within the COE. Define the processes for managing user access, data integrity, model development, and maintenance. This framework ensures consistency, transparency, and accountability.

  5. Create a knowledge repository: Develop a centralized knowledge repository that serves as a reference for best practices, training materials, templates, and documentation. This repository should be easily accessible to COE members and users, enabling them to access resources and guidelines as needed.

  6. Provide training and support: Offer comprehensive training programs to educate users on Anaplan's features, functionalities, and usage. Provide ongoing support through workshops, webinars, and one-on-one coaching sessions. This helps users become proficient in Anaplan and maximizes their utilization of the platform. Learn about instructor-led Anaplan Model Building Courses

  7. Set-up Meeting Cadences: Encourage collaboration among users, COE members, and stakeholders. Facilitate regular meetings, forums, and knowledge-sharing sessions to promote a cadence of cross-functional collaboration and an exchange of ideas. This collaborative culture helps drive innovation, continuous improvement, and adoption of best practices.

  8. Establish a feedback mechanism: Implement a feedback mechanism to gather input and suggestions from users and stakeholders. Regularly collect feedback on the Anaplan platform, processes, and COE initiatives. This feedback can be used to identify areas for improvement, address user needs, and refine the COE's strategies and approaches.

  9. Monitor and measure success: Continuously monitor and measure the success of the COE and its impact on the organization. Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) aligned with the COE's objectives and regularly evaluate progress against these metrics. Use this data to identify areas of success and areas that require further attention or improvement.

  10. Evolve and adapt: The COE should evolve and adapt over time to meet the changing needs of the organization and leverage new features and capabilities of Anaplan. Regularly assess the COE's effectiveness, identify opportunities for enhancement, and adjust strategies and initiatives accordingly.

The Winning Strategy for CPG Companies

How an Anaplan Partner Helps Establish an Anaplan COE

While setting up an Anaplan COE can be a daunting task, working with an Anaplan partner can help streamline the process and ensure that best practices are implemented. From identifying the right team members to creating a roadmap for adoption, an Anaplan partner can provide valuable guidance and expertise. Not to mention, assist greatly in expediting the establishment of your COE.

They start by conducting a comprehensive assessment of your organization's needs and current Anaplan setup, laying the groundwork for a tailored COE strategy. With their guidance, your COE framework can be meticulously designed, encompassing elements such as scope, governance structure, roles, responsibilities, and performance metrics, ensuring alignment with your business objectives.

Look for partners that offer instructor-led and hands-on training for your COE team members. This will equip your team with the necessary skills to effectively manage Anaplan and better facilitate knowledge transfer, ensuring that your internal teams become self-sufficient in the long term.

Additionally, these partners provide ongoing support, quality assurance checks, and scalability guidance, ensuring that your COE remains effective as your business evolves. They may also offer benchmarking data and cost optimization strategies, making the partnership a valuable asset for the continued success of your Anaplan COE.


Establishing an Anaplan Center of Excellence (COE) is a crucial step toward maximizing the value and success of Anaplan within an organization. By following a step-by-step approach and partnering with an Anaplan implementation partner, your organization can lay a strong foundation for its Anaplan COE.


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