The trouble with traditional enterprise planning systems

David Dockrill

ANZ Solutions Consultant

The Australian market is quite mature when it comes to enterprise planning. There are not many companies left who do not have a planning solution of some description.

The proliferation of legacy tools in the market means that companies have been resigned to paying all of the costs associated with legacy providers (large license costs, having to maintain significant infrastructure to support the solution, expensive services fees, outsourced administration on top of the risk inherent in large and long software implementations).

Over the years, I’ve seen these five common challenges I’ve observed in the Australian market associated with traditional enterprise planning systems:

1. Enterprise planning systems are not built to be owned by the business

They require specialist coding and scripting that business users typically are not equipped to use. This means that when the plan must change, such as to reflect a change in the business or business environment, a traditional enterprise planning system requires the support of expensive consultants to make that change.

2. Enterprise planning systems hardware and databases are not adaptable to change

If a change is required in the hardware, or database of the system, IT needs to be involved in the process, which can further slow down the ability to understand the impact of the changes.

3. Enterprise planning systems require constant care and attention

There are always patches, updates, upgrades, and new releases coming out that require continual attention. It is possible to remain on old versions for a while, but old versions cease being supported by the vendor. Sometimes an upgrade can also mean a hardware upgrade, or indeed an entire platform upgrade.

4. Enterprise planning systems require manual entry to integrate systems

Integration of tools is a perennial issue. I spoke with someone recently who described how she used a planning tool for HR planning, but had to manually type in data from a spreadsheet due to the lack of integration of the tools.

5. Admin and maintenance of enterprise planning systems is occasionally outsourced to third parties

Where this is the case, the finance department is unlikely to possess the ability to be self sufficient with their planning models. This means that any “non-standard” updates or changes are subject to SLAs (i.e delays.) In some instances, this may be acceptable, but increasingly we are seeing a requirement for analysis, reporting or questions to be provided very quickly, if not on the spot – and certainly well inside an SLA timeframe.

The net effect of all of these issues is that if your company lives in a hyper-change environment, traditional enterprise planning solutions hamper business users with their reliance on consultants, IT, and the vendor itself, combined with the lack of integration. A scenario where a simple “what if?” question is asked becomes a “wait for…” situation.

So what to do next?

It’s time to empower business users to own their planning models so that changes to plans reflect a new reality and can be executed, as they are required. “What ifs” should be performed on the spot (without a wait), and the reliance on external consultants should be kept to an absolute minimum, if not eliminated completely.

Like the rest of the world, Australia is embracing cloud technologies as a means of delivering enterprise systems. In fact, the Australian Federal Government, and the State Government of Queensland, are both encouraging this movement via “cloud first” initiatives. A cloud-based planning solution means that concerns around hardware for the planning system (web servers, database servers, security servers, admin servers, specialist “appliances”, and so on) are nothing but a memory. Less time dealing with IT issues means more time to focus on planning and analysis for business users. As well as cloud delivery, processing speed should be a key consideration. In-memory, 64-bit technology, with the power to scale to any level of size, is the standard expectation in the Australian market for planning solutions.

As a business user, consider other options to your legacy planning tools. As an example, when it came to develop a workforce planning solution, one of our customers did not have the time or budget to engage their legacy planning vendor to bring in additional consultants to develop the solution. We invited them to Challenge Anaplan to see what our planning cloud could do for their functional budget. Learn more about how to Challenge Anaplan here.

What’s your greatest challenge with traditional enterprise planning systems? Leave a comment below and let us know.