My View on Connected Planning
I’m sure we’re all a little sceptical of buzzwords or vendor jargon, so I thought it pertinent to explore what it is we’re really implying when we use the words Connected Planning and why we are making such a play for it at Anaplan right now. Of course, the term itself is nothing new to the industry and we’ve seen it repackaged by vendors over the years either in the guise of Connected Planning, IBF (Integrated Business Planning) or S&OP (Sales & Operational Planning) but the big difference now is, we can really deliver on it. We can do it quicker, simpler, smarter and most importantly we can do it in one single unified place.
We’ve all seen it with dinosaur vendors, businesses will shoot for the stars and sign up to 1, 2 even 3 year implementations with the expectation of that final ta-da moment which invariably disappoints. That is not Connected Planning……… for me, it is not some overarching solution which tries and fails to cover all business processes in one single swoop, rather many smaller attainable wins which ultimately amount to and delivers on meaningful benefits to the key processes across a business in a unified manner. It comes down to Data, People & Plans. One source of information, one version of the truth, with the right views for each role within your business. Collaborative decision-making, greater insight from collective intelligence and rapid alignment to business change. Ability to analyse and refine plans in real-time for one area, many areas or across the entire business.
Anaplan is challenging all and any siloed operations across the business, which traditionally may have stitched together disconnected point solutions with spreadsheets, from Finance, Sales, Supply Chain, Workforce, Marketing & IT. These legacy strategies are naturally counterproductive, adding complexity, latency, and duplication of data across the process and therefore contributing to inaccurate planning outcomes resulting in lost revenues, market share or unavailability of goods or services. Anaplan allows you to do the simple things right empowering the business with a single unified platform, integrated planning across all use cases, real time access to data, scalability, ease of a spreadsheet, real time ‘what if’ scenarios, audit control. These benefits are not only seen across functional business processes but also within functions. For example, within Finance we can ensure tight collaboration and immediate consolidation of processes between multiple cost centre owners, regional managers and executive teams from Budgets, Revenue forecasts, Capital, Cash flow, Balance sheet & Income statements, etc.
Undoubtedly aided by an agile and flexible platform, The Anaplan Way is a juxtaposed style to that of the Waterfall methodology. We think in short, focused releases, each release building on the others rather than trying to pack as much content into a single release. People inevitably get bored and unfocused with long drawn-out implementations, and by the time the release comes, the business requirements have already moved on. Anaplan is as much about the journey as it is the destination. Keep your first release focused and short, know what you want to achieve and when you want to achieve it, ensure buy in from the executives, keep it simple, focus on immediate pain and that quick win, solve the problems you know you can now rather than attempting to right every wrong in one fell swoop.
Of course, for prospective suitors who aspire to the consolidated business benefits of Connected Planning, my advice would still be to land Anaplan into your business with a quick and attainable win. Deliver something tangible early on, and grow momentum around that real-life benefit. Gone are the days of dinosaur vendors and never-ending waterfall projects. Do it quicker, do it simpler, do it smarter.
Connected Planning is the journey of unifying the business processes across your organisation with Anaplan, and enjoying it!