• Cathal Doyle

Six Things To Know About Anaplan

Anaplan is an Operational Planning and Business Performance platform which allows organisations to analyse, model, plan, forecast, and report live in the cloud. In 2011, Bedford became one of Anaplan’s first UK business partners.

Launched initially in 2011 by the team who brought you Adaytum, Anaplan has issued a new way of thinking (and doing) for Business Analytics users. As a platform it has considered the functionalities and capabilities of Excel but has maximised them by incorporating real-time results with multi-user programming, allowing quick and convenient reporting and eliminating well known spreadsheet weaknesses. Here are six key features to know about Anaplan:

1. The Cloud: The Anaplan platform is a unique blend of proprietary technology that securely collects and stores data yet is agile enough to interface with external systems. Stationed in the cloud, it bypasses the common performance problems and hardware complications associated with competitors; instead it provides a detailed planning logic that is instantly accessible by multiple users. I can confidently say that Anaplan is designed with security in mind every step of the way, from network, to client/server, to how users access and manage data.

2. Zero IT Support: What a relief to remove the necessity for IT involvement – unlike competitors Anaplan is owned entirely by the Finance team. No more waiting around for hardware installations, software upgrades and the availability of IT resource.

Tip: If Finance are to truly to own their own models, they will need to be in a strong position to react to organisational restructures, new reporting requirements and evolving processes which is traditionally difficult with legacy competitors. With Anaplan, non-technical users will update core dimensions, manage business rules, create reports and undergo adhoc analysis using drag and drop pivot functionality.

3. Collaboration: Cloud infrastructure and applications have a number of potential business benefits, but one of the areas of greatest potential is their ability to revolutionize business collaboration. What’s great about Anaplan is that it provides a single version of the truth, a single logon, a single platform and an audit trail of who, when, why.

Tip: Better collaboration can increase productivity, get you closer to customers, make your products more innovative and your business more competitive, and ultimately help you attract and retain top talent.

4. ‘Living Blueprint’ Technology: Or the Spine of Anaplan as it is commonly known. This allows business users to make functional changes to model logic in a matter of seconds supporting the fast paced approach to operational changes. Even in smaller companies, financial and business data is simply too complex to be effectively stored, managed and utilized in two dimensional, row-column relationships.

Tip: We always talk about the perfect template. Concentrate on defining the spine of calculations and let your dimensions align around it, i.e. SKU’s, Departments, Channels, Products, Entities, Subsidiaries, Cost Centres, Days, Weeks, Months, etc. Don’t waste time ensuring the once perfect template remains perfect across 500+ worksheets. I’m sure you can all relate to that…

5. Real Time Reporting: Anaplan will allow you to react faster to changing business conditions. With multiple spreadsheets flying back and forth through cyberspace, who can truly know if everyone is working on the same version of the truth.

Tip: Create multiple scenarios easily and effectively to track performance; Month on Month, vs. Actual, vs. Budget, vs. PY, vs. Prior Forecast, YoY, LFL. Analyse the movements to remain pro-active, not reactive to business changes.

6. The App Store: In recent months, Anaplan has leveraged industry knowledge by lifting pre-configured & modelled use cases such as Cash Flow Forecasting, Capital Planning, Sales Forecasting, Territory Quota Planning, etc in to preconfigured apps. Most notably, the Financial Consolidation App designed and configured by sector innovator Michel Morel, Head of Applications at Anaplan and formerly SVP of Performance Management Development at SAP & Business Objects allows you to quickly set up and configure the intuitive consolidation model without any IT involvement.

Tip: Leverage comprehensive, built-in consolidation intelligence by just loading your chart of accounts and organization structures. With full IFRS and GAAP compliance, Anaplan enables flexible role-based security with full audit trace and change management. With selective access, users across the enterprise can collaborate on a single transparent process that is iterative and agile.

Anaplan has secured a host of exciting and notable clients these past few years including the likes of McAfee, Aviva, Kimberly-Clark, HP, Diageo, Pandora, Reckitt Benckiser and many more. And to steal a quote from their book; “Anaplan is disrupting the world of business planning and execution.”

“People have always talked about integrated business planning and the connected enterprise, but with Anaplan, for the first time we're actually doing it.” Jeff Brobst, Vice President of FP&A at McAfee