• Cathal Doyle

The Anaplan Way: Pre-Release Phase

Although we believe Anaplan to be the leading platform for Planning & Performance Management, the reality is that customers will have a necessity to suffer procurement due diligence and a defined selection process before making a commitment and naturally, one of the earliest questions as part of this Pre-Release Phase will be ‘How much does it cost?’. At the initial stages, they will generally be after a ball park figure without giving any real time commitment and in order to do so we will use a Rough Cut method to derive an estimate. We will ask some supporting questions: What problems are we trying to solve? What is our overall goal? When do we need to accomplish this by? What are the complexity levels of the models and drivers? What internal resource will be made available during the project lifetime? Some other considerations to keep in mind: user base, data reconciliation, metadata and model, reporting, data integration, training. Once armed with this information we will couple it with our previous experience of like for like projects to draft a rough cut estimate so the customer can determine the feasibility of the project before moving forward.

Once the customer is satisfied with the estimate we will proceed to a scoping session, typically a 1-2 day session, where we will use a measured approach in order to draft a Statement of Work [SoW]. We will focus on the scope of work, project deliverables, size of application, user concurrency, resourcing, timelines & project pricing. At this point it is worth noting that this is a statement of intent, it is not an exhaustive list of every minute task or activity defined. Remember this is not a Waterfall methodology, we think in short, focused releases, each release building on the others rather than trying to pack as much content into a single release which invariably disappoints. We manage buckets of requirements on an on-going basis as things change. Anaplan represent it as ‘part art, part science’ and I tend to agree. These are the initial stages of establishing client expectations rather than trying to squeeze the life out of every considered requirement, as we will inevitably miss our mark by doing so.

Although the Project Planning & Sprint Planning will form part of the subsequent Foundation Phase, included in the SoW will be project pricing & timelines. We will divide the overall timeline into controllable milestones: Project Start, Requirements Phase, Sprints, UAT, Go-Live, etc. A Sprint should almost be a self-contained project in itself, covering design, build, integrate, test and demo. This approach allows itself to be iterative and flexible to changing landscapes and allows us to re-balance the buckets of subsequent sprints based on additions to the previous sprints, or even estimation errors in sprint planning. This Sprint method supports our statement of intent approach, and allows us to gain momentum during the project rather than dwelling on definitive detail upfront.

The Application Manifesto is another key component to this phase prior to commencement of the Project & Sprint Planning. This is a short paragraph derived by the key stakeholders outlining in a very focused and concise manner the overall goal of the project. Upon Go-Live you should be able to read your manifesto and say yes, the model we built aligns completely with the manifesto, but it also serves as a constant reminder during the project to stay on course.

All going well we now move to the Foundation Phase: Project & Sprint Planning……