Implementation Of Anaplan's Financial Consolidation App: A Project Manager’s Perspective
I recently had the great pleasure of working with Anaplan’s Head of Applications, Michel Morel during a recent client project. Michel is the genius who designed and built the newly released financial consolidation app for Anaplan’s new app store, using his vast experience and modelling skills. As the founder and CTO of Cartesis, and later the VP of Financial Performance Management Development at SAP, Michel is passionate about leveraging cutting-edge technologies to drive business forward.
When I first heard about the concept of the ‘Anaplan app store’ I must admit, I was a bit sceptical. Essentially, the app store is an online portal available to Anaplan users that is filled with pre-built, out-of-the-box models designed to accelerate an already blisteringly fast implementation process. The models have been developed by a range of industry experts, customers and partners alike.
If you already have an Anaplan login, it’s simple to open the Hub, browse the selection of Anaplan apps and if you see one you’d like to look at, click the ‘Get App’ button to download it in to your workspace. The apps are classed as either ‘accelerators’ or ‘packaged’. Accelerators are designed to get you started quicker than having a blank canvas, whereas packaged apps are fully functioning models. The best part is that all of the apps are free of charge with a current Anaplan subscription – the possibilities are pretty endless once you have the platform in place.
But back to the part where I said I was sceptical. Why should I feel sceptical about an exciting store launch? I guess I didn’t believe that there could be a ‘one size fits all’ model template; that a pre-built model could be designed well enough to satisfy the needs of an organisation, without the need for constant re-engineering.
And was I right to be sceptical? In a word: no. Not wanting to do things by halves (we love a challenge at Bedford) we took on a major UK implementation of the financial consolidation app – actually the first in the UK and probably the most in-depth app development that exists today. The consolidation app comes with over 130 pre-built modules, automated processes for creating your chart of accounts and organisation structure, all the automated calculations required for consolidation and a wealth of dashboards to help you manage the entire consolidation process.
At the time of implementation it was just two and a half months away from the client’s year-end, at which point they had to produce their accounts in Anaplan; with no backup – *gulp* (no pressure then!). To add to the context of this project, the client has over 170 companies within the group; 30 global operation points and 25 different currencies which at a local level, operates with over 700 cost centres and more than 13,000 accounts. Add to this a high level of acquisitions and you have a very complex and changeable business structure; and a real test for the financial consolidation app.
Once you’ve downloaded the app to your workspace, all the user needs to do is:
Import your list items (chart of accounts, organisation structure etc.)
Set a few global parameters (group currency for example)
Set some consolidation rules (indirect ownership rates)
Import your data (TBs, intercompany, exchange rates, tax rates etc.)
Create an investment register
Enter any manual journals you require
Sounds easy, no? I guess the definitive question is, was the consolidation project a success? Did the client complete its group accounts on time? Was the financial consolidation app – dare I say – perfect for the job?
Yes, yes and well, very nearly. Yes because the project achieved all its aims and the client completed its accounts on-time with sign-off from the auditors. And the very nearly? We noticed a couple of areas where enhancements were needed. Anaplan responded to our requests very quickly by updating the app where required. The result was an excellent version of the app that you’ll find today in the App Hub today. So, what are you waiting for? Happy Anaplanning!