• Cathal Doyle

Our Evolution to Connected Planning with Anaplan

One of the main reasons I was so excited to take up my new role here at Bedford was the opportunity to spend more time with our customers. Over the 7 years that we have been delivering Anaplan services we have been lucky enough to build our customer base among a truly diverse body of industries, from Professional Services, Insurance, Banking, Construction & Public Sector to Retail, Hospitality, Pharma, Manufacturing, CPG and more. Anaplan has allowed us to do that unlike any other legacy or point vendor. It has allowed us to bring together different factions within these organisations to truly connect their business processes, from Finance, Sales, Operations, Supply Chain, Workforce Planning etc.

If I am honest however, I’m not entirely sure that even we could foresee the true potential of the cross functional application of Anaplan way back in December 2011 when we signed our first Anaplan customer. It quite simply had never been done or seen before. The market at that time was populated by the dinosaur point vendors who had long since solved the need for multi-user planning with some modelling capabilities, but they were deployed within very tight constraints and with heavy ‘techie’ dependencies. This lack of flexibility drove many companies to model business scenarios in spreadsheets, recording only the final answers in the tools that support the budgeting and forecasting process for consolidation purposes. Within Anaplan, we recognised the opportunity to kill both birds with the same stone, to model and scale within Anaplan and rather selfishly, in a much easier fashion than we were accustomed to. As a consulting team we spent 99% of our working day buried in codes and processes, watching macros run and fail, rebooting servers, installing fix packs (that invariably solved 10 issues and created another 5). Anaplan allowed us to lift our heads, ask the right questions and truly solve business problems without the restraints of a legacy toolkit. Thank you, Michael Gould.

The interesting slant to our evolution to connected planning with Anaplan is that it has been shaped by the customer. It is the customer who continues to poke and prod at the platform to uncover its capabilities, to the point where Anaplan is now challenging all and any siloed operations across the business, which traditionally may have stitched together disconnected point solutions with spreadsheets. Why not Sales Performance Management? Why not Sales & Operational Planning? Why not Supply Chain? Why not Call Centre Planning? The business leaders within these organisations have lived through the pain of legacy point solutions and offline spreadsheet models and are truly excited by the opportunity to connect their processes with Anaplan. I’m not sure the term ‘excited’ was ever part of our vocabulary before Anaplan. Customers were resigned to their own expectations and satisfied on delivery, but it lived and died within their business function. Anaplan opens the door to possibility and allows for the creation of true champions across the organisation.

We are entering a new era of performance management and Anaplan is leading the new age of Connected Planning. Naturally we continue to compete with point vendors for that initial land but I’m yet to see a true competitor in the cross functional space. Connected Planning should not be 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. Deliver something tangible early on and grow momentum around that real-life benefit.

Anaplan and our customers continue to shape our business, and long may that continue. Connected Planning is the journey of unifying the business processes across your organisation with Anaplan and enjoying it!

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