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Posted 26 April 2024 by
Hendrik De Cuyper
Head of Sales Anaplan

Achieving Anaplan implementation success: 4 best practices to streamline supply chain planning

Anaplan implementation success is a game-changer for organizations aiming to modernize their supply chain planning. It promises a litany of benefits—from boosting operational efficiency to accelerating growth. Yet, the platform’s greatest asset—its flexibility—can become a double-edged sword if not properly managed. How can supply chain professionals make the most of this powerful tool while avoiding pitfalls? From my experience with Anaplan implementation projects, I can recommend four crucial best practices to optimize its potential and set up your supply chain for long-term success.

Best practice 1: Balance standardization with customization

Anaplan’s flexibility empowers users to design and build virtually any solution they envision. However, this very strength can lead to complexity and divergence from an organization’s ultimate goals. The aim is to find a balance between leveraging Anaplan’s flexibility and defining boundaries that align with the organization’s strategic objectives.

The 2-phase approach to sustainable solutions

  • Smart design: While you can utilize Anaplan’s flexibility to help you think outside the box, you need to start from best practices to ensure standardization and avoid needing to reinvent the wheel.
  • Fit-gap analysis: Once your initial design is in place, you can run a fit-gap analysis with the standard functionality present in Anaplan and model additional business-critical features that are needed for a successful deployment.

By employing this two-phase approach, you ensure a solution that is not only innovative but also sustainable and tailored to your organization’s unique needs. This effectively combines the best of both worlds—high time-to-value and out-of-the-box functionality that is still adaptable to your unique needs as an organization, during and after achieving Anaplan implementation success.

Best practice 2: Building toward a Center of Excellence

Implementing Anaplan is not a solitary endeavor; it requires collective expertise and governance. Thus, organizations should aim to build and harness the knowledge and capabilities internally. While they should go about establishing a Center of Excellence (CoE) at their own pace, it’s best to clearly communicate the idea and vision at the outset of an Anaplan implementation process.

The nucleus of knowledge & governance

  • Alignment with best practices: A CoE helps keep your implementation aligned with industry best practices and can onboard the platform’s new capabilities, as these are often continuously innovating.
  • Knowledge sharing: A CoE serves as a platform for sharing valuable insights and information among team members. Feedback flow originates bottom-up from end users, while supply chain management provides prioritization and guidance.
  • Consistency and adaptability: A CoE guarantees that your Anaplan setup remains consistent while being adaptable for future enhancements. If your system doesn’t remain in lockstep with your process, every planner’s best friend shows up again—spreadsheets.

Over time, the CoE will become more formalized as the Anaplan implementation expands into other areas of the business. As Anaplan expands toward other areas of the business and more users are onboarded, more central governance is required to facilitate cross-functional collaboration and alignment on best practices.

Best practice 3: Data exploration & validation as foundational elements

In the realm of supply chain planning, data integrity is paramount.

Laying the groundwork for reliable insights

  • Early data assessment: Start with a meticulous examination of existing data, identifying inconsistencies and gaps.
  • Data cleanup: Invest time and/or dedicated resources in cleaning up your data so that you’re working with a fresh slate.
  • Data enrichment: Go a step further by enhancing your data with additional, useful information where applicable.

By prioritizing data integrity, you pave the way for a smoother, more efficient implementation journey so that the insights derived from Anaplan are reliable and actionable. This is applicable to any system, as your planning solution’s output quality will be directly linked to the input quality.

Best practice 4: Empowering the end-user community

Anaplan implementation success hinges on the adoption of end users who will interact with the solution daily.

Inclusion drives adoption & evolution

  • Early involvement: Involve the end user community from the design phase all the way to deployment.
  • Continuous feedback loop: Establish a feedback mechanism to collect diverse perspectives and needs throughout the implementation. For example, when doing a sprint review.
  • Sense of ownership: By involving end users throughout the process, you not only increase adoption rates but also foster a culture of ownership and continuous improvement.

When the people who will use the system are part of creating it, you’re more likely to end up with a solution that everyone values and utilizes effectively. 

Your roadmap to a streamlined supply chain

Implementing Anaplan offers endless possibilities for revolutionizing supply chain planning. Adhering to these best practices—embracing flexibility, establishing a Center of Excellence, scrutinizing your data and empowering your end users—provides a structured path to a successful and transformative implementation. With Bluecrux’s years of consulting wisdom, proven best practices and impeccable track record of Anaplan implementation in the supply chain space, your organization is well on its way to a future of agile, efficient and growth-primed supply chain planning.

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