When it comes to the task of managing performance, many organizations still find themselves fixated on the past rather than planning for improvement in the future. When performance management processes operate efficiently, technology to support activities such as modeling and analytics can optimize outcomes and help align them to targeted goals and objectives. This might seem trivial or easily done, but the reality is that most organizations lack a unified platform that anyone in the enterprise can easily engage and leverage.
This is where a company called Anaplan comes in, with an integrated platform that provides tools to help everyone participate in a common planning and analytics environment to foster well-managing performance. The company provides an easy-to-use software-as-a-service environment. Since my last analysis the company has brought in some heavy-hitting management to help it foster growth, including CEO Frederic Laluyaux, who comes from SAP and Business Objects, and Vice President of Products and Marketing Matt Howard. Most significantly, in the last year its software has evolved to meet the needs of executives, directors and managers across operational areas such as sales, operations and finance. It also has had many new releases of its software that operates in a cloud computing and Internet based access approach. It lets any type of business analyst develop models and apply analytics as tools for understanding past and future performance and be directly involved with scenario planning and performance management tasks to optimize and align activities and resources to target goals and objectives.
Our benchmark research into business analytics found that analysts are not able to spend enough time in scenario planning and what-if analysis because they are weighed down with the task of getting the data together to do the modeling and analytics. Also, our sales forecasting benchmark found that many tasks that businesses rate as most important are not easily achieved today, such as unit forecasting over time (47%) and what-if scenario planning (43%). Our benchmark into sales earlier this year found that forecasting and pipeline (65%) and analytics (47%) were the highest application priorities in sales. There is still a lot of room for improvement in the areas of sales operations and interface to operations and finance to help provide more direct interaction across departments that should integrate business planning to not just manage but improve performance.
Anaplan can help in the task of maximizing resources and revenue from sales territories. It can allocate accounts based on quantitative sales team and customer metrics. It supports a range of spreading options to identify areas for improvement, or individually hold certain targets by territory while planning for improvement in others. It also can start business initiatives for seasonal or new product introductions that need to have specific, integrated plans for assigning targets across sales and marketing, while planning for operations, manufacturing and distribution. All of Anaplan’s functionality is designed for businesses to use without IT involvement and without having to increase the load on the analysis team. These are just two examples of what you can do with Anaplan.
Anaplan brings together the disparate tasks of sales forecasting, demand planning, sales and operations planning, financial planning and range of analytics into one environment in a way that I refer to as integrated business planning that we routinely educate organizations how to improve. The twist is that Anaplan has designed a tool to achieve this planning through direct engagement by those in business and not just analysts. Anaplan want to excel at integrated business planning to support performance management across marketing, sales, operations, finance and other areas that usually do not work well together because they have incompatible tools or methods to analyze and plan their own results. This antiquated approach leads to wasted time and resources, and is not smart business. Even so, Anaplan has room to improve, not so much in the area of products and technology but in its communication of the value it provides in bringing a unified approach to planning and performance management. If you are looking for a business and planning driven approach to performance management, you should look at Anaplan.
CEO & Chief Research Officer