Anaplan Winter 2014 Release: For Business Users, By Business Users


Michael Gould


Over the last few years, Anaplan users have been getting more ambitious with the problems they are trying to solve using the platform. Increasingly complex models are being built on Anaplan; they are getting broader in terms of their level of detail, and require a lot more data entry, calculation processing and model content. Additionally, once an organisation employs Anaplan, they quickly realise that there are other areas within their businesses that would benefit greatly from being integrated into Anaplan. As a result, there’s now a much wider community of users.

When Anaplan was first built it was essentially a modelling toolkit aimed squarely at enabling skilled but non-technical business users to build, deploy and manage models. From its first release onwards we have been adding reporting functionality, dashboards and charting. Then, over the last year or so, we introduced new functionality to make it easier for end users to interact with the models with custom action buttons on dashboards to provide a more task-oriented interface. In conjunction with that, we’ve been greatly increasing the scalability of the platform, particularly supporting parallel throughput of submissions to allow more users to work concurrently on the same model.

With our Winter ’14 Platform Release we are adding new navigation features to make it much easier for users to find their way around, and to negotiate the complexity and level of detail that we’re seeing our customers demand. In doing so, we’re in the final stage to transform Anaplan from a modelling toolkit into a full-fledged application development platform. When I say ‘development’ I should stress that I’m not talking about writing code or using some complex scripting language. This is about applications being built by business users for business users. Obviously, IT are fully involved where applicable (security sign-off, data integration, process management), but the design, build and ongoing maintenance of an application should be done by the business users who understand the problems they are trying to solve.

In 2009 Gartner predicted that by 2014 we would see 25% of applications being built by ‘citizen developers’ … We’re not quite there yet, but with the upcoming release of Anaplan we’re a big step closer.

As Guillaume discussed last week, one of the most prominent features we are introducing is Model Tiles. This is a new, highly visible navigational feature that makes it much easier for users to find the content they need.

Once you’ve selected a model, there are two other significant improvements in this release to assist with navigation: the landing dashboard and filtered contents. Previously, when in a model, the table of contents served as the landing page and users were expected to find the information relevant to their role on their own. We realised that Anaplan users don’t want to get swamped with data that is not necessarily relevant. With the new release users can now navigate directly to the information or tasks that they need. Think of it as a customised home page for each model, according to the user’s role. This allows you to immediately land on a dashboard relevant to your role after selecting a model, enabling you to take action on your plan right away. When you do go back to the contents, predefined filters show you the dashboards and modules that are relevant.

We’re less than a week away from the Winter 2014 Release of Anaplan, so be sure to stay tuned for more information. In the meantime, head over to Winter ’14 Anaplan Platform Release for the full breakdown of features being introduced and a video walkthrough of the enhancements.