You will all know The Anaplan Way as our implementation methodology of choice for which we have delivered over 300+ projects across 150+ customers, over a nine-year period.
It has been normal practice for us to manage our projects with a complement of both on-site and remote offerings for a number of years now, with typically a 50/50 split but given the unprecedented environment we are now operating in, it means that we are working to a 100% remote offering across 35+ live project engagements. Although this is a different working model to our standard, it does not mean that any of the core Anaplan Way principles are compromised or any ground lost. We have always had the capacity and tools in place to work remotely but we thought it worthwhile outlining some of the guidelines to consider when running The Anaplan Way entirely remote given this dramatic shift:
We would always ask that the chosen internal Model Builders have undertaken the Anaplan Level 1 training course ahead of the project-planning phase, which is no different here. We offer all instructor led Anaplan training courses remotely, including Level 1 so you should have no excuses.
Prior to project kick-off we will be gathering requirements, outlining the model design, defining the user stories and planning the sprint schedule. The User Story definitions (requirements gathering) are typically seen as the most critical part of the entire project.
Define the key stakeholders & subject matter experts (SME) to be present during the different functional sessions and then agree on a series of remote workshops, via video conferencing facilities (Teams, Webex, GoToMeeting, Zoom, etc.), reasonable in length, communicating a clear agenda for that workshop along with expected outcomes. If lengthy sessions are required given stakeholder availability, then ensure you schedule adequate ‘breaks’ in order to gather thoughts and get some space between sessions. We promote this to help stimulate process design if nothing else, but also to simply take a breather. Following these process workshops, we would ask that you write up the user stories offline and then play these back in a wrap up session to the project team. We are available to support in the drafting of user stories as required.
As always, before moving to implementation, the user stories must be prioritised, measured and arranged into sprints. Ensure consensus between parties on the project plan and that they are signed off before starting the build, as normal. Model design is then underway with the Anaplan & Bedford Team and to be communicated with the internal SMEs.
In many instances, the implementation phase can be more efficiently run remotely than on-site; having less distractions working remotely than on customer site. The key watch-out being engagement during daily scrum meetings, sprint reviews, sprint retrospectives, PMO & Steering Committee meetings which will now be run entirely remotely. Daily virtual/video stand-ups will take place at the start of each day outlining what was done yesterday, what will be done today and any risks or blocking actions stopping that day’s tasks. You should consider a wrap up call at the end of each day. These in-day sessions can be simple 10-15 minute video calls but important to ensure everyone is clear and aligned on their roles & expectations for that day. Not to mention it will be good to simply have a coffee and a chinwag given we’ll most likely be working from home.
Agree the audience of each meeting in advance and ensure everyone has access to the chosen remote working platform so that you don’t eat into critical meeting time worrying about IT issues. Streamline your scrums as best you can, consider giving a short timeslot to each member of the scrum team and create separate sessions for anything needing a longer discussion but not the entire audience. The Model Building team will remain in constant communication throughout a working day, either by group chat, video conferencing facilities and/or virtual surgeries.
All User Stories are drafted, tracked and updated via our Anaplan Way App, so everyone can collaborate as normal on the status of the project.
We ask that the business owners complete testing and test scripts be drafted individually into the Anaplan Way App as normal. It is critical to establish who these testers will be and to communicate what is expected from them (early!), when they are needed and by what medium - even more so in a remote environment!
It’s vital that the model builders are available to the end users throughout the testing period via remote video platforms, consider creating a group chat channel available and set up ‘drop in’ sessions remotely which are manned by the model builders.
Nominate a UAT lead to consolidate all defects and playback to the project team – these discussions are more appropriate with a smaller audience to consolidate consensus.
The key objectives of the Deployment phase are to; get buy in from the end users, ensure the new Anaplan process lands successfully into the organisation, and secure a return on investment for the customer. As a natural by-product of the project approach you should be well on your way to delivering on these goals however there are still some remaining tasks to aid in the deployment phase which are mostly delivered remotely in any case:
Develop communication plan for the end-users
Develop training plan for end users and subsequent model builders
Model maintenance and process documentation
Gathering user feedback during the initial Go-Live for subsequent releases
Run virtual surgeries hosted by the core project team for Q&A’s; document these and share them
While we are ultimately focused on delivery of a successful engagement, we remain people at heart and we shouldn’t minimise the social element of our engagement. Naturally when you are face to face and grabbing a coffee in the morning you’re speaking about weekends/box sets/families, etc. so let’s continue to allocate some time for this and promote video calls where possible; it will help us all feel a bit more connected, it will aid in the togetherness of the project team, but also ensure we all get dressed in the morning, which can only be a good thing.
Any engagement can have its own unique challenges but we have been fortunate enough to learn the common threats while delivering 300+ projects across 150+ customers, and this bank of knowledge stands us in good stead when delivering The Anaplan Way in normal circumstances. While we are dealing with unmitigated circumstances right now, I believe we are well equipped to continue the successful delivery of Anaplan across our customer base without losing an inch of ground. We have a track record in remote delivery, and our mission right now is to prove that an entirely remote Anaplan engagement can be more efficient in delivery than its counterpart.