Anaplan (NYSE: PLAN): Reimagining Financial Planning

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Frank Calderoni, CEO Today, 85 percent of chief financial officers (CFOs) and finance executives believe innovation is needed to drive better business insights. However, the new dynamics such as regulatory changes, volatility and uncertainty, digital disruption and business model innovation are impacting chief financial officers’ (CFOs) ability to execute financial strategies across their organizations. Finance teams undergo tremendous pressure to respond to the changing environment and react with greater speed and agility. In order to stay ahead of the inconsistent landscape, finance leaders need to invest equally in operational efficiency as well as business partnering to deliver stronger business insights for making better decisions. Making the right decisions is often challenging. What organizations need to make improved decisions is ‘connected planning’, which is the path to expedite business value. Connected planning involves uniting people together with plans and data, enabling companies to unlock the real power of their business and move forward with speed and agility.

Founded in 2006, San Francisco-based Anaplan (NYSE: PLAN) successfully brings the concept of connected planning for finance, helping organizations transform the way they make business decisions. The company drives faster and more effective planning and decision-making across finance, sales, supply chain, workforce, marketing, and IT departments through its cloud-based planning software.

The conventional approach to planning followed by finance departments is often slow, error-prone, and fragmented. Therefore, adopting finance best practices such as driver-based rolling forecasts and zero-based budgeting is difficult. Anaplan provides financial planning and analysis (FP&A) teams with a business self-service, cloud-native planning, analysis, and reporting solution for real-time decision-making.

"Financial analysts can adjust planning, analysis, and reporting models quickly using the Anaplan platform and also respond to changing business conditions without relying on IT professionals"

Anaplan’s cloud-native platform makes financial planning easier by connecting people, plans, and data across finance, empowering organizations to make the right decisions quickly. Taking a new approach to financial planning, Anaplan enables organizations to run any planning process virtually and achieve connected planning at any scale—from a single use case within one business unit to enterprise-wide across hundreds of processes.

The company leverages standards-based data integration that can extract data from any unstructured or online source. To meet real-time modeling and calculation demands, the platform combines the benefits of the cube, columnar, and cell-based frameworks with an in-memory modeling environment and a multi-threaded calculation engine.

Connected Planning for Finance

Purpose-built for finance, the Anaplan platform enables dynamic, collaborative, and intelligent planning.
Finance teams can easily get rid of spreadsheets and rigid tools to take advantage of value-added analysis, better management decisions, and collaboration throughout the business. Employing the Anaplan platform helps businesses to align corporate objectives with their financial plans that are linked to market events and operational tactics, resulting in finance transformation that accelerates business value.


Anaplan’s cloud-native platform makes financial planning easier by connecting people, plans, and data across finance, empowering organizations to make the right decisions quickly

Financial analysts can adjust planning, analysis, and reporting models quickly using the Anaplan platform and also respond to changing business conditions without relying on IT professionals. The flexible modeling capabilities of the platform enable CFOs to automate, structure, and connect a range of financial and operational use cases, steering business performance more effectively. Organizations can predict performance gaps quickly, analyze root causes by drilling down into rich financial and operational data, assess the impact of alternative courses of actions, and enable more effective decision-making and execution. The Anaplan platform replaces the outdated tools that do not interact well with each other and eradicates the complex, inefficient, and costly manual planning processes.

Anaplan is a step ahead of traditional business intelligence and enterprise performance management system providers. The conventional performance management systems do not inform the managers about what they should do going forward. This problem is solved by the Anaplan platform—a powerful modeling and calculation engine—that helps managers assess expected results from different decisions before acting upon them. Anaplan considers this combination of backward-looking and forward-looking to be the “best data” for decision-making. The modeling engine is based on proprietary Hyperblock architecture that enables thousands of concurrent users to access a centralized data pool. The technology lets these users create detailed planning models that bring data down to the transaction level across stores, employees, and product stock keeping units (SKUs) to improve decision making.

The modern and secure architecture platform is designed to fulfill the mutual needs of business users and the IT department. The in-built native application lifecycle management and industry-leading security features enable good governance for IT requirements. Flexible role-based security levels ensure collaboration with confidence. Furthermore, the company’s audit trail, model restore, and selective user access make safe and simultaneous planning in real time possible.

Due to its ease of usability, professionals with an understanding of Microsoft Excel can quickly learn Anaplan modeling while operational managers can use simple interfaces to drive their day-to-day processes. Large organizations employ the Anaplan platform for complex enterprise-grade planning across thousands of users, with zero to minimal IT support.
Tales of Success

Today, the company has over 20 offices globally, 175 partners, and more than 1,000 customers worldwide. With each of its customers, Anaplan has crafted success stories and built meaningful relationships. One such customer story that speaks volumes of Anaplan’s approach is AXA, a multinational insurance firm.

The German unit of AXA Group lacked a consistent approach to planning across its various business lines and departments, which made innovation difficult. As the company relied on spreadsheets, databases, and proprietary tools, planning processes would take around three months. At the corporate level, AXA needed a strategic tool for planning, forecasting, and simulation and sought assistance from Anaplan.

Anaplan connected its platform with AXA’s existing IT systems and created a team to develop planning models. They also added experts on the team that had specialized knowledge in the company’s various lines of business such as life, health, and property insurance to run the planning models.

This team reinvented the business processes using established change management techniques. Their efforts resulted in significantly increased planning efficiency as well as transparency and established a foundation for connecting and harmonizing individual models. The results of Anaplan-based planning transformation proved remarkable for AXA. It eliminated siloed tools and processes, and the conventional three-month-long planning processes were completed in a week.

Recently, MUFG Investor Services, the global asset servicing arm of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, announced its implementation of Anaplan. MUFG uses the Anaplan platform for carried interest modeling with improved real-time planning and decision-making processes for its alternative investment clients.

Carried interest calculations are inherently complex, and modeling these calculations in Excel amplifies the control risk significantly. Organizations look forward to automating these calculations to mitigate that risk and gain increased transparency in the carried interest calculation process. The use of Anaplan meets both these demands and allows MUFG to fully automate the calculations and eliminate the risks of Excel processing while Anaplan’s custom dashboards provide complete transparency into those calculations.

MUFG chose Anaplan owing to its easy-to-use configurable front-end capabilities and the ability to integrate the solution with MUFG’s sophisticated platforms, without the need for complex technical support. Consequently, the platform provides a strong audit and control environment, which clients can access directly to interrogate and review.

Anaplan operates in a total addressable market and is estimated to expand its business significantly in 2021. Going forward, the company will focus on adding sales capacity, expanding the partner ecosystem in the APAC region and improving its product portfolio.

“We are proud of our achievements both in our fourth quarter and the full fiscal year. We are experiencing incredible momentum and continue to be the leader in Connected Planning. We see our customers transform their businesses with better decision making, and they see impressive results that our platform provides across their entire enterprise. This is just the beginning, and we know there is so much more opportunity ahead in this next fiscal year,” concludes Frank Calderoni, CEO, Anaplan.

Company
Anaplan

Headquarters
San Francisco, CA

Management
Frank Calderoni, CEO

Description
Connects people, data, and plans to enable real-time planning and decision-making in rapidly changing business environments