The Anaplan Platform: Simplifying your planning, budgeting, and forecasting


Jim Rich

Vice President, Eastern Region

In the late ‘90s, an unknown company asked a simple question: Why can’t business applications be as easy to use as buying a book on Amazon?

The then-unknown company was Salesforce, which answered its own question by successfully launching a new application—setting a new paradigm for CRM, and single-handedly redefining and revolutionizing the software industry. Eventually, this new paradigm eliminated many of the clunky, difficult-to-use CRM tools like Siebel and others. Why? Because people who had never before used a CRM application could easily understand how to leverage the Salesforce application to do their jobs more effectively and efficiently.

In 2007, another software company began with the same mission in mind. At the time, virtually all large enterprises were managing their planning, budgeting, and forecasting processes with inflexible and difficult-to-use tools that had been around for more than 30 years. The inflexibility of these tools drove most organizations to extract the data from them and enter that data into spreadsheets to complete any real modeling or data analysis—introducing enormous risk into the business planning, budgeting, and forecasting process as the enterprise lost all control of the data in a sea of spreadsheets. Clearly, no one wanted to run their organizations using spreadsheets but these inflexible tools left no alternative.

Seeing this need, Michael Gould and his team of engineers shut themselves in a barn in Yorkshire to come up with a solution—and three years later, they introduced a cloud-based, multi-dimensional modeling engine designed specifically to allow business users to manage these processes in an easy-to-use, flexible and scalable application. Anaplan was born.

Just as Salesforce revolutionized the CRM space and drove legacy applications into obsolescence, Anaplan is revolutionizing planning, budgeting, and forecasting processes. Major companies from every industry are running Anaplan’s platform and redefining the way they manage their businesses.

What is Anaplan?

The Anaplan platform supports hundreds of use cases across the enterprise—from Finance, Sales, and Supply Chain, to Marketing and HR. And because it is an open platform, independent software vendors like Salesforce and Workday can and have built hundreds of unique, business-specific applications that can be downloaded in seconds from the App Hub.

So where or how does Anaplan fit into the overall business process?

The answer is actually quite simple: Core systems like ERP, CRM, HRIS, and others are great at managing the ongoing, transactional part of a business. Companies store their employee, transactional, customer, and sales, data in in these systems to track business performance—but many use other tools to extract and analyze the data collected in these systems

But what about the valuable planning data that is contained within these transactional systems? How can you manage and model changes to plans throughout the year to respond to market fluctuations? Transactional systems and BI tools allow you to see what your business has done and is doing, but they don’t have the capabilities to allow you to model what your business could do. And that forward-looking, “what-if” analysis capability is how Anaplan can complement your current transactional systems.

Let’s look at one specific line of business as an example: HR. Many companies use Workday as their main HRIS tool; however, HR can’t run on Workday alone. This is where Anaplan—with its HR suite of apps—comes in, to help HR teams plan, budget, and forecast more effectively. Workforce planning and optimization, compensation planning, and even employee onboarding are key areas that complement any transactional HRIS system.

And it’s not just for HR—Anaplan can integrate planning, budgeting, and forecasting processes into existing operational systems for every line of business across the enterprise to provide greater flexibility, visibility, and real-time management of data.

Register for a live demo to learn more about how the Anaplan platform can help you transform the way you run your business by integrating the planning process into a collaborative enterprise-wide initiative.