Anaplan – The New Era of Connected Planning

Planning – we’re all familiar with it, and we do it on a daily basis, like planning what to buy before going to the grocery store or planning where to go when visiting a new city or country. Well, for us, it might be beneficial to plan ahead all the time, but it certainly isn’t mandatory. However, the same can’t be said for companies. An enterprise needs to be able to forecast future outcomes and plan for them appropriately, which is no easy task. We’ve held our own with various multi-purpose tools for too long, so we’d like to showcase to you – Anaplan. With it, we can escape the planning dark ages and move into the new era of planning. Join us on this quick journey, and we’ll show you why exactly we believe that Anaplan is worth your time.

What is Anaplan? How Does it Differ?

First off, all you need to know is that Anaplan is a cloud-based SaaS platform used for planning, forecasting, and building models. It’s an elegant tool that serves as a bridge between your company’s applications and analytics. With it, you can build models and test various cases and what-if scenarios in order to spot any hidden opportunities. In short, you have models that connect your company’s operational data to your analytics dashboards so that you can plan your strategy effectively and accurately – connected planning at its best.

It’s a great system to switch to when you wish to replace that old Excel glue that’s holding all your processes together. Additionally, everything being collected in one easy-to-use model on the cloud means that you’ll have department-wide access to the single source of truth; you know that Holy Grail all companies are striving towards. And, finally, let’s add the cherry on top by saying that Anaplan doesn’t work with scripts but rather with syntax formulas, so it’s a much smoother transition for companies that are more familiar with tools like Excel.

Now that you know what Anaplan is, you probably want to know how all these fancy features and functions apply to real-world business cases. Well, let’s not dally and get straight to that then, shall we?

Business Use Cases

Detailed Market Observation

In the past, we worked on a project where the company was making plans and forecasts for their products based on their place in the market. Pretty standard stuff, really. The process itself, however, was very time-consuming and often inaccurate since they were compiling large amounts of Excel files and distributing them among the different departments. The historical data for the current market situation was set once and would only be updated when the next batch of files was created. This wasn’t ideal, and in turn, their planning suffered for it.

By switching to Anaplan, they were able to save time and effort by having everything collected in one platform. Furthermore, they were able to study the market observations about their competitors’ products with the most up-to-date data and make forecasts based on it. We also gave them more control by automating the data loads and giving the users the option to choose when and how often they wanted them to occur. So, in the end, they not only saved time, which could be better spent on more meaningful tasks but also managed to connect their departments, plans, and processes.

Improving Sales Incentives Compensation

Another interesting project that we’ve worked on in the past required improvements in the client’s workflow so that they could easily set sales targets and calculate their bonuses accordingly. The idea may sound simple at first, but the process was anything but. Our client had an ununified and complex sales hierarchy, which differed by country. Furthermore, they were using lots of different Excel templates in order to accommodate the specific needs of each country. The whole workflow was in shambles due to its size and scope, and it was clear that the switch to Anaplan was very much warranted.

Our team began building the requested model, along with cleaning and structuring the data. As a result, all the territorial adjustments that took days before were now fully automated and took only seconds. Furthermore, the model was built with level access in mind, so all the users only saw the information that was relevant to them. In the end, the sales representatives received real-time details about their current performance and the kind of bonus they can expect adjusting to reflect that. This motivated them to increase their overall achievement rate by 32%. What can we say? Apparently, seeing your goals more clearly acts as a good motivator.

Transition to Enterprise Connected Planning

If you remember at the start, we talked about how Anaplan is the bridge between your company’s processes. Well, what if all your processes are already on the platform? Then, my dear reader, the real magic begins. The reason Anaplan advertises its product as connected planning is because when you have more models, they can easily communicate between each other and pass along all the necessary information.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that those models need to be made specifically for that purpose – no, rather they can serve their intended function and still contribute to the bigger picture painted by a more “connected” model. For example, you can have the two use cases explained above, along with a few other sales-oriented models, feeding data into a forecasting dashboard that would take them into account when composing several “what-if” scenarios for future plans within the company. Sounds complex, doesn’t it? To a degree – yes, but the benefits you reap in the end will speak for themselves.

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Core 18 Honeycomb
Connected Planning allows you to seamlessly align across all departments to meet business objectives.

Image source: Anaplan

Conclusion

We could carry on talking about the various use cases of Anaplan all day, but talk is cheap. The main points you should take away from all of this is that Anaplan provides a unified platform to share and evaluate data, improves productivity and decision making, and enhances cross-department collaboration. Anaplan also has a learning materials library, very useful for those starting out with it. We’d like to help you get your foot in the door and experience this new era of planning for yourself. After all, a failure to plan is a plan to fail.

So, if you feel like your company is ready to make the leap between platforms, contact us, and we’ll guide you throughout the whole process. After all, switching between platforms and restructuring your whole process is a daunting task, but one that would pay off substantially by the end.

Authors:

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Lyuben Chetirski
Stiliyan Neychev
Stiliyan Neychev

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