Did you know that Autodesk has won 21 Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects? That’s a lot of awards. Whether you know it or not, you likely have seen the company’s product in one form or another—it has a broad portfolio of customers in the manufacturing, entertainment, architecture, and construction industries that use their 3D software to design, visualize, and simulate ideas before bringing those ideas to life. Take a look at their online gallery to see some of the many ways their software is used.
Hampered by spreadsheetsAlthough Autodesk excelled at creating 3D models, the company’s revenue planning processes were another story. As Nick Hanson, Director Finance – Worldwide Sales Finance, and former Sales Operations Finance Manager, shared at Anaplan Hub16 that Autodesk used to struggle with hundreds of disparate spreadsheets that were incapable of supporting forecasting across multiple dimensions (such as 37 local currencies and 7 different license types) in an ever-growing product portfolio. Equally frustrating was the fact that although the individual worksheets contained a lot of useful information, they were not easily accessible, prone to error and crashing—which was a problem when the executive team needed answers fast.
Smarter revenue planning to support business transformationAutodesk set out to transform their business model from a traditional perpetual license-and-maintenance approach to a cloud-based subscription model. Not only would this require more accurate planning, it would involve more complex revenue recognition processes in order to comply with new accounting rules that go into effect in most countries in 2018. Under this new accounting standard and business model, there are thousands of more levels of detail and transaction meaning there would be even more pressure on Excel—pushed way beyond its capabilities. For Autodesk, managing this transition with inconsistent and error-prone spreadsheets when senior managers need an accurate view of revenue from both an internal and external perspective was clearly out of the question. So Autodesk set out to find a planning solution that could scale to cope with the burgeoning amount of data, yet was flexible enough to address its changing business needs.
Implementation: Integrated business planning with seamless revenue recognitionAfter evaluating various vendors, Autodesk chose Anaplan because it allowed the company to adopt an incremental approach to implementing integrated business planning—one that unified sales and operational planning with revenue planning, which was particularly important due to its demanding revenue recognition requirements. Some of the benefits they gained include:
- A single solution that spans sales quota and territory planning, revenue planning, sales commissions, financial planning and budgeting, revenue recognition, and financial consolidation
- A phased implementation that required no external consulting support and that eventually replaced hundreds of siloed and inaccurate spreadsheets
- An implementation that provided more granular planning and a far more intensive process without having to hire more people
- The ability to roll up a complete forecasting cycle, from sales updates to consolidated revenue reports, in a matter of hours