2021 Customer Awards: Anaplan - The Accelerator

2021 Customer Awards: Anaplan - The Accelerator



Company: Anaplan

Company background: At Anaplan, we enable decisive action in dynamic conditions, turning complexity into clarity and alignment, and turning change into advantage.

Contact: Aaron White

Title: Groups Program Manager, Community

Related URLs: https://community.anaplan.com

Kudos Category: The Accelerator

1. Please describe your company and your initiative.

Anaplan is a SaaS company offering a cloud-native business planning tool that is incredibly flexible and responsive and useful in a wide variety of applications. It is used globally by hundreds of top companies across many industries.

Anaplan is too robust a tool for company communications and internal representatives to comprehensively or successfully address all possible use cases and solutions. Fully embracing and taking advantage of the platform’s capabilities requires niche conversations with others using it in highly customized ways. It requires a Community! To meet the many, varied needs of our customers, the Anaplan Community needs to be similarly flexible and responsive in order to help its members go further, faster with Anaplan.

Our mission is to support, inspire, and connect Anaplan’s ecosystem of model builders and end users. While the Community has existed in some state since 2013, our leadership made an intentional decision in 2016 to invest a true Community. In March 2017, the re-launch of the Anaplan Community occurred on Khoros (then Lithium).

Since then, we have been pushing the boundaries of what is possible as a Khoros Community.

2. What was the “before” state? What challenges did you have to overcome?

In 2019, we started to hit a breaking point. We had done so much, so fast, that our Community was showing signs of instability. It wasn’t very noticeable to end users yet, but we knew that we needed to fix our foundation before it destroyed the entire house. We decided to look at rebuilding behind the scenes to provide us a more flexible future.

We went forward with throwing out nearly all of the code that was in our Community, much of which was custom to support our unique goals and programs. We did a top-to-bottom rebuild, from our navigation and page designs, to individual components giving us more flexibility with our styling. We reused existing Khoros components and elements where it best made sense, not wanting to reinvent the wheel. We integrated our other platforms such as Groups and events (via Bevy) more cleanly into our Community, while building out entirely new sections like our User Directory.

This rebirth continued into and throughout 2020. With the onset of the pandemic, we pushed ourselves to create even more solutions for virtual events, members who were displaced from their jobs, and people who needed new ways to connect more meaningfully online.

Where we had previously shared technical resources with the rest of the organization, last year we brought on board an Associate Technology Manager and an Engineer to help ensure we had the dedicated resources to keep all our plates spinning and our plans moving forward. Our technical mad scientists continue to push out dozens of fixes and improvements each month, documented for internal eyes in a monthly release notes blog post.

Perhaps most importantly, we began creating processes and structures that supported the foundations we had now established rather than weakened them. We began looking for innovative ways to use existing Khoros features and leveraging API instead of developing our own from-scratch custom solutions. The goal in all of this was to enable scalability and reduce repeated or time-intensive tasks for our scrappy team, allowing us to do even more to more effectively serve our members with amazing content and experiences.

3. What were the results? Please cite qualitative and quantitative results.

In the last year, we completed an overhaul of the Community site-wide to (among other things) adopt our new corporate branding, modernize the visual experience, and deploy a global navigation across our ecosystem—connecting the Community with Anaplan.com, our Learning Center, Anapedia (our technical documentation), and Anaplan Navigator (an interactive experience designed to help unpack the art of the possible with Anaplan) like never before. We launched multiple new sections to support programs throughout the organization.

Additional highlights:

  • We used Khoros' Group Hubs feature to streamline job hunting for our members through an Available Talent board.

  • We created an API-powered Career Search that scours the internet for the latest job postings seeking skilled Anaplanners.

  • We began site-wide taxonomy updates for content to improve searchability and filtering, and updated the default display options for Knowledge Base (and other) content—helpful for managing our Community’s 50,000+ pieces of content.

  • We also leveraged Khoros workflow features to streamline and automate the content creation and review process that allows us to easily create new content, including tagging in experts to validate the information before publishing.

  • We deployed a Slack integration to offer more options for notifications and preferences.

  • We further updated our existing API-driven components that integrated Bevy events listings into the Community.

  • We more than doubled the size and scope of our Groups program by leveraging Group Hubs to quickly scale new categories of micro-communities, allowing for more online connections across more relevant topics and events.

  • We participated in the Beta/trial of Khoros Events in our continual effort to ensure we are providing the best options and features for our members.

  • We made additional improvements in both styling/display and back-end code to systems for content syndication for discussions, message feed/article feed capabilities, and performance/load times on large nodes.

  • We enhanced Khoros' native badging for improved gamification, including automation of badges from different platforms, UI enhancements, and improved leaderboards (for both Kudoed Authors and Solution Authors).

  • Improved the usage and capabilities of Community accounts, making them the single source of truth for all connected experiences (Support, Academy, and Events) and laying the groundwork for additional personalization and gamification enhancements later this year.

  • We also launched our customer case portal, integrated with single sign-on (Okta) and Anaplan, automating the Community account creation process anytime a user opens a Support ticket.

The results?

The efficiency improvements are paying off. Everything is growing as tasks or updates that used to take 15-30 minutes of work are now more or less instantaneous. Multiplied across dozens of areas throughout the Community, plus the addition of new team members, and we are now much more able to turn attention to even more meaningful improvements and program investments. We are moving at a rapid pace, but even so, we continue to conduct user research to ensure we are making the right decisions for our users, as ultimately all we do is for them.

We’ve started to utilize lesser-known tools in Khoros, such as custom tags to float content to specific places or custom styling to highlight featured content in our Group Hubs (this is especially effective for the program managers of our more than 20+ rotating cohorts of Anaplan learners, who use Hubs as a way to stay connected in a sort of virtual classroom).

Our Technology Manager, Stan Gromer, stays connected to the Khoros Atlas Community, keeping on top of new features and releases so that we can implement relevant ones quickly—and even determine how to push the limits of their functionality in unique ways. At the launch of Khoros Titans program, Stan was one of six inaugural Legendary Titans.

The Anaplan Community was highlighted by Feverbee as one of their Top 10 Best Designed Communities in 2020.

Overall, this focus on process, efficiency, and experience—for both our team and our members—has delivered amazing growth and engagement metrics YoY from 2019 to 2020, and we are excited to keep growing.

  • 151% increase in replies (4.8k to 12.2k)

  • 126% increase in topics created (1.4k to 3.2k)

  • 124% increase in posts (10.1k to 22.6k)

  • 53% increase in comments (2.1k to 3.3k)

  • 113% increase in accepted solutions

  • 17% decrease in minutes to first reply

  • 94% decrease in minutes to first solution

  • 131% increase in kudos awarded (13.8k to 31.9k)

  • 1,340% increase in badges awarded (5k to 72.4k)

  • 47.9% increase in unique member logins (to 21,597)

  • 56.5% increase in completed registrations (to 18,710)

  • 10% increase in quality sessions (lasting 180+ seconds)(208.8k to 230.4k)