A Centre of Excellence for your planning solution in 7 steps
'Continuous Improvement' is an effective approach to realizing the connected planning vision of your planning platform. And this approach works even better when you organize your 'Continuous Improvement' from a Centre of Excellence. Discover our best practices for a Centre of Excellence. When do you start, and how?
Why you need a Center of Excellence
Your organization takes full advantage of the power of your planning tool when you connect multiple business units and departments to the platform. Bringing everyone together in one system is the vision, enabling smooth collaboration and gaining integrated insights across the organization. This also ensures that everyone can rely on the same reliable, shared information.
Getting all business units and departments on board requires a long-term approach based on a solid foundation and a roadmap for continuous improvement.
When to start a Center of Excellence?
Contrary to what many people think, you should not start a Centre of Excellence before your first implementation project. It is better to start and complete a planning project first before you start organizing your Centre of Excellence.
How to set up a Centre of Excellence in 7 steps?
Based on best practices, we recommend taking the following steps to establish a Center of Excellence:
1. First, make a business case for your planning tool and determine your path to integrated business planning (if you haven't already)
Your organization probably insisted on a business case before investing in a Performance Management platform like Anaplan. And rightly so.
If you don't already have an approved business case, now is a good time to do so. It will be much easier to make an integrated business planning program a success if the goals, benefits, investments and returns are clear.
2. Learn to deal with multidimensionality
By first implementing a specific business planning process, you get a feel for the platform. Your team must learn how to use the system, but most importantly, your organization must incorporate multidimensionality into its thinking. Learning how to apply multidimensionality can only be done by experiencing it in practice. You also need to know how to adapt the highly flexible scheduling platform to IT components in your organization that may be much more rigid.
All this gives you a solid foundation for the next step: the roadmap.
3. Create a roadmap
You create the roadmap for continuous improvement based on the business case and experience gained during the initial planning project. A roadmap is crucial because you have to consider many different business units and functions; it allows you to plan appropriately and communicate the overall vision and goals to the entire organization. Paradoxically, the teams whose business processes are implemented last will need the roadmap the most, because you need to keep everyone aligned and excited.
Make sure your roadmap is based on continuous improvement. First implement the basics and then customize, optimize and improve each process. Include a life cycle management approach in your roadmap to get more and more value out of the platform.
4. Introduce the concept of a Center of Excellence
Ensure that all key decision makers who have a stake in the success of the planning platform know why a Center of Excellence is needed. Explain how one centralized team gives the organization access to in-depth knowledge of the platform and integrated business planning processes. This expertise is scarce and you need to plan resources carefully and well in advance.
The Center of Excellence also becomes the owner of the continuous improvement roadmap. With many different business owners, this helps ensure that the program does not stagnate once the first business owner completes a project.
5. Find the right sources
As mentioned, the expertise needed for the Center of Excellence is scarce. In the beginning, Finext consultants are often part of the team. Once the in-house experts have enough expertise to handle the day-to-day activities, our presence will decrease. We often remain part of the team on standby to answer more complicated requests, such as new multidimensional business planning models.
6. Formally launch the Center of Excellence.
Embed the Center of Excellence in the organizational structure. Ideally, the CoE should have a place in the Office of the CFO. At this stage, also start organizing user groups - motivated users you can solicit feedback from and define improvements with.
Plan testing, training and regular communication with all stakeholders. All of this will give you the structure to achieve the continuous improvement roadmap you have established.
7. Make sure your Centre of Excellence keeps looking ahead
Organizations increasingly need to look ahead and react to unexpected situations. Your planning tool can undoubtedly help you do that. The Centre of Excellence should not only look at continuous improvement from a Life Cycle Management perspective, but also take into account changes - both internal and external. This increases the value for your planning tool and the Centre of Excellence and especially for the business teams striving for business improvement and competitive advantage.