Raising The Barn — How our digital workplace became the cornerstone of the Anaplan culture
At Anaplan, we believe our world is better when we are connected. Anaplan connects communities of people with data to enhance decision-making in dynamic environments. It’s called the Connected Planning way.
Inspired by our CEO and Chairman Frank Calderoni, we also believe that our culture is the key to our success. To stay connected with one another, we created our first digital workplace in 2018 called The Barn.
Before The Barn, we faced many challenges that would be familiar to global companies experiencing accelerated growth. Employees experienced a lot of communication noise, making it challenging to stay connected with company news and find employee resources.
Company-wide communications were received through three main channels: email, a monthly email newsletter called Connections, and Slack for real-time, collaborative communication and informal announcements. Thinking about the average employee’s inbox, they could have emails from their customers to the IT support team to their project team to a company event invite to a random salesperson to a major announcement from the CEO.
Employees were left frustrated as they tried to stay connected with the company. It was also challenging to locate company resources. HR policies were found in one place, IT resources in another, and other resources would be emailed as an attachment to an announcement. There was no single source of truth for company news and resources.
Anaplan has 21 offices in 13 countries, and our more than 1,300 employees work all over the world. San Francisco is our largest office, and after that, our second largest group is our remote-working population. We also have major offices in Minneapolis, New York, London, York, and Singapore.
Shortly after joining Anaplan, our CEO created the Culture and Communications team to inspire employees to Live Our Values Everyday (LOVE) and encourage and foster dialogue as a community.
One of the first steps on the journey was to create a digital workplace to drive employee engagement and ensure that everyone understands where our company is headed. We joined the team to build, launch and manage the new digital workplace.
As remote employees, we knew how important it was to have a single, easy-to-use digital workplace where global employees can stay connected with the company culture, read important announcements, and easily find resources.
Partnering with Igloo to raise The Barn
Some tech companies start in a garage. Our founder, Michael Gould, started Anaplan in his barn in York, England. When we asked employees for name suggestions for our digital workplace, it was no surprise that The Barn quickly took the cake.
We launched The Barn in May of 2018 and chose Igloo as the solution to power our digital workplace. Igloo immediately became a helpful partner, providing project resources, consultation, knowledge guides, and training on how to architect, build, design, and launch a new digital workplace. They also provided a digital workplace maturity map to provide guidance on how and where it can grow in the future.
To ensure that The Barn serves as the cornerstone of our culture, we created a place called Inside Anaplan where employees can find information about Anaplan’s culture and values, vision, management team, and departments. We also built a Resources and Tools place including New Hire Onboarding, Brand Portal, Employee Development, Holiday Calendar, Travel and Expense, Policies, Security, and The Barn Support Center.
When we launched The Barn, we quickly discovered that our most visited page was the Holiday Calendar. Our CEO loved it and considered it a sign of success because The Barn immediately improved the employee experience. It’s not always obvious that Monday of this week our Melbourne office will be off, and Friday is a bank holiday in London. This type of insight is huge for our managers of globally distributed teams.
Igloo immediately became a helpful partner, providing project resources, consultation, knowledge guides, and training on how to architect, build, design, and launch a new digital workplace.
This leads us to the place in The Barn called Locations, where each of our offices has their own page. Before The Barn, many of our employees couldn’t tell you anything about the culture in our Stockholm, Mumbai, or Singapore offices, or what they needed to know about visiting this office location. Now, global employees can find office-specific resources, participate in office Slack channels surfaced onto the location page, and see photos from office events.
Finally, we created a place called The Latest where we share internal news and social media channels. We cut down on the daily communication noise by creating a single source of truth for employees to stay connected with the latest company news. All employees are subscribed to Internal News, where we share major company announcements and updates that require our employees to take action. Employees can also choose to follow department news channels where teams can share other program updates and feature stories.
Anaplan reached a major milestone in October 2018 when we made our initial public offering (IPO) on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). This was a monumental event in our company’s history, so our executive team was adamant that IPO announcements and resources were shared in The Barn for historical reference.
Thanks to The Barn, how we celebrate our culture through our communications continues to grow and evolve. We created an AnaplanLOVE page where we feature company-wide contests around Living Our Values Everyday (LOVE). We also created a new Anaplan+ page where employees can connect with our various inclusion and diversity communities, as well an Anaplan Gives Back page where employees can learn how to get involved with giving back to our local communities.
Prior to The Barn, all employees were emailed a weekly newsletter called Connections. The newsletter was retired once we launched the digital workplace. In December 2018 as an ‘ode to the Connections newsletter, we published the first edition of Connections, the Annual in The Barn – a year in review and a look back at how far we have come and all that we have accomplished.
With increasing engagement in The Barn, we were able to reference communications throughout the year and find the greatest moments that mattered in 2018 for Anaplan and our culture. We created a signature page using the microblog widget where employees could sign the annual and leave their thoughts on what a monumental year we had and wishes for the new year. The entire leadership team signed the signature page.
What’s next for our connected future
90% of our employees log into The Barn to stay connected at least once a month, 60% weekly, and 35% daily. Igloo continues to empower us long after launch.
The next phase is to enable teams and departments to create content in The Barn while being thoughtful of our site architecture – aka avoiding Barn sprawl. As a result of departments and teams adopting The Barn as their single source of truth, we are now focused on governance and enablement. Over 60 people are now trained Barn Keepers and are responsible for managing a place in The Barn.
To provide training and support to the Barn Keepers, we created a place called The Barn Support Center where they can get help with creating, maintaining, and managing their Places. The most helpful resource is the Place Owner Handbook, which serves as a Barn Keeping 101 course and links out to knowledge articles, resources, and training videos Igloo provided.
The Barn has truly become the cornerstone of our culture, and Igloo was the right solution. It integrates with all other key productivity solutions and its user interface is very intuitive and easy to use.
Creating moments that matter through our digital workplace
The Barn has truly become the cornerstone of our culture, and Igloo was the right solution. First, it integrates with all other key productivity solutions. As we said earlier, we’re a big Slack shop, so that integration is valuable to our employees. It also integrates with Box, which solves the problems of information being spread across different sources.
We also find our digital workplace and its user interface to be very intuitive and easy to use. Building a page is drag-and-drop, and Igloo provides a lot of great widgets to make a simple, customer-focused page without having to code HTML.
Most importantly, Igloo has made a great partner to us from the very beginning. They are quick to help and eager to advise us on how to foster our culture through our digital workplace. Their big focus is on building community. Over the past year, they’ve connected us with intranet managers at other companies that use Igloo. Between Igloo and the community of Igloo users, we are never alone.
At Anaplan, our mission is to make all planning for all people a reality. We believe our world is better when we connect communities of people with data to enhance decision-making in dynamic environments. It’s the Connected Planning way.