At some point (hopefully early on) during your Anaplan journey you will realize the need for centralized data management. Running your metadata, hierarchies and historical data through one location and distributing outward to other models is by far the most efficient method for maintaining a robust Anaplan environment. However, Data Hub models do not receive the attention they deserve from large consulting firms. Too often a Data Hub is an afterthought during an implementation cycle, crammed in between larger project requirements. Centralized data management is too important (and essential!) to become a subtask of your Anaplan roadmap, as it will ensure data integrity and structural unison across your implemented workspaces.
1. What is a Data Hub?
A Data Hub is an Anaplan model that stores all hierarchies, attributes and source system data within an Anaplan environment. Essentially, it is your connection point to all external systems that feed information into your workspaces. By storing everything in one central location, workspace administration (i.e. hierarchy updates, historical information validation, etc.) becomes a much simpler task.
Information from external source systems only needs to be validated and loaded into the Data Hub. Connections to other models through import actions can then be established to create an Anaplan environment that is routinely synchronized, ensuring end users are viewing reliable and consistent information regardless of which model they are accessing.
Maintaining a Data Hub is the essential gold standard for a successful Anaplan experience.
2. How long does it take?
It should not be assumed, as many existing consulting firms do, that a Data Hub is a quick implementation and, therefore, does not require a great deal of attention. I have been on the receiving end of two failed Data Hub builds – poorly designed attempts by reputable consultants – as a full-time model builder.
Having no Data Hub is better than owning a faulty Data Hub, or one that does not adequately take into account how a company's system landscape may change over time. It must be designed in a way that allows for efficient structural updates without disrupting the end user experience in the front-end models. This is a skill that is difficult to develop for many consultants, as it requires long-term experience tweaking the Data Hub architecture throughout a business cycle to arrive at a clean solution.
That being said, the time required for a Data Hub buildout is variable, but be very cautious of anyone who promises a quick implementation or tacks it onto an existing project plan with little scope detail or margin of error.
3. Big Consulting vs. Big Solutions
Big Consulting, armed with its sales pitches and crafty project plans, often runs into difficulty executing the finer points of Anaplan model architecture. These firms view a Data Hub as a quick fix for data management across an Anaplan environment when it truly deserves much more concrete attention. Without sufficient time spent on Data Hub design, businesses risk torpedoing their implementations from the beginning. Inconsistent hierarchies or inaccurate source system data causes end users to call into question the legitimacy of an Anaplan model (and eventually the entire Anaplan system if many issues arise).
This is too great a risk given your company's investment in the Anaplan platform and the potential that can be unleashed with a strategically designed workspace environment. Big Consulting will promise Big Solutions, but their final delivery is often loosely held together and requires extensive maintenance after the fact. Instead, seek out the expertise of someone with years of experience perfecting the architectural design of centralized data management within an Anaplan environment. You will be pleasantly surprised and greatly rewarded for choosing a proven track record over lofty promises.
The success of your Anaplan environment begins with sound data management. It is one of the most important best practices to implement a Data Hub at the center of your company's Anaplan model architecture. The efficiency that can be realized from the hub-and-spoke approach of a Data Hub will tremendously improve the experiences of both your end users and model administrators, and it will provide confidence in the information held within your front-end models.
With multiple years of experience as the sole model builder across three different companies, I have a proven and tested skill set for creating the Data Hub solution that will greatly enhance the way your company manages its source system and cross-model connections. Taking the step towards centralized data management is one of the most positive moves your business can make towards a sustainable Anaplan environment.
"The success of your Anaplan environment begins with sound data management."
Don't hesitate to reach out and discover a better alternative to meeting your company's Anaplan needs. I have the experience and dedication to grow your Anaplan presence into a sustainable, highly efficient solution that will exceed the expectations of your end users and team of model builders. Send me a message to get the conversation started, and I will deliver the support your company needs and deserves for success.