Transforming financial planning and analysis — an interview with JPMorgan Chase



The platform for orchestrating performance.

JPMorgan Chase is the largest bank in the U.S. and the world’s largest bank by market capitalization. As part of its ambitious digital transformation program to standardize processes across the organization, JPMorgan partnered with Anaplan two years ago.

We spoke with JPMorgan’s Fash Dabesh-Khoy, head of planning analysis innovation and transformation; Emma Linney, product manager for Collaborative Forecasting; and Lisa Ganame, firmwide transformation officer, at Anaplan Connect in New York to learn about their Connected Planning journey so far. They shared their practical tips on how to make Anaplan work within your organization.

What drove JPMorgan Chase’s interest in a planning solution?

Fash: JPMorgan is a very large financial organization. We have a presence in over 100 countries with multiple businesses serving a very diverse set of clients, so one of the things that we've always wanted to do is provide a firm-wide view of all of this. We felt that we needed to plan better.

In order to do that, we had to think about our processes, our data, and how we operate as a firm. We knew that we needed a tool that was going to be an enabler to make that happen. So that's when we started to look at the market.

How did you evaluate platforms?

Emma: We didn't just want to take the regular checklist approach to tool evaluation. We wanted to be very deliberate because usability is such a key success factor for us. So, we chose an end-to-end business process for a proof-of-concept use case.

Firstly, we chose a use case that was small enough to build in our time frame of three months.

Secondly, we had to make sure we covered enough common elements, so generating data, transforming that data, running calculations, iterating, analyzing and visualizing, and ultimately having some kind of review and approval of workflow.

Finally, we included the business in that journey with us, so they were part of the evaluation process. And that meant choosing a use case that had a focused enough team that we could partner with.

So why did you choose Anaplan?

Lisa:  There were three main capabilities that drove that decision.

  1. Firstly, flexibility. A lot of times solutions solve one specific problem. With Anaplan it's a blank slate so you can solve not just financial planning problems, but use it more broadly within the firm.
  2.  Secondly, it was about time to market. The ability to hear from our sponsors of the proof-of-concept use case, provide feedback to them, and then iterate on that and show them something different really quickly — particularly in the user experience — was really powerful.
  3. Thirdly was the real-time data aspect. So, everybody was working on the same data set, the calculations were live, and that interaction was above and beyond any other tools that we've seen today. That really helped us land on Anaplan as the right tool in conjunction with our product toolset.

Once you became a customer, how did you build the Anaplan product team internally?

Emma: We built a team from scratch, so that gave us the freedom to decide not only how we wanted the team to be structured in terms of focus areas, but also the way that we wanted to operate and engage. It was very important that the team consisted of people with Anaplan expertise working alongside people with institutional experience to give us a nice blend to cross train over time.

How did you get executive sponsorship of Anaplan?

Lisa: We knew we wanted to do a large, firm-wide use case, so we created a prototype to show to the CFO. It didn’t have all the bells and whistles, but it was enough to demonstrate our vision to him. That was very powerful.

We also appointed an executive sponsor early on for our first large use case who attended the Anaplan meetings and made sure they understood our goals to improve our processes and to improve access to information — not just data for executives but also to improve time to market and for getting answers.

With 250,000 employees worldwide, there’s a lot of people whose jobs would change because of Anaplan. How did your team get the word out?

Emma: We had a marketing strategy early on to make people aware that we had this new tool.

We set up a centralized operating model, where we guided anybody that was interested in Anaplan for a use case, from initial interest and assessment all the way through to production and user adoption. But we also built flexibility into the process. In some cases, standardization made sense, and in some cases, the businesses needed a particular use case just for them and we could do that.

We also partnered with Anaplan on workshops for employees to spend the day with us, be hands on, build a theoretical use case, and give us their feedback. That worked really well.

How did you build the environment for Anaplan within your organization?

Emma: There were three different ways that we engaged with our people:

  • One was to build the use case for them but that didn’t help us with the skill sets that we wanted to build over time.
  • Two was we built the use case with them so that they learned as we were developing it.
  • Three was to let people build the use case themselves. Anaplan is a citizen-developer tool and there’s good training available on the Anaplan site. 

How do you get people in the firm excited about Anaplan’s functionality?

Lisa: I break up my audience into people who work at the front end and people that work at the back end.

For the people at the front end, the managers, I focus on the collaborative aspect of the tool — for example, chatting with people in the tool and the real time aspect of the data, so you're looking at data that is flowing in from a system of record and has already been reconciled by the time it gets to you.

This is really powerful when you consider our legacy processes of consolidating spreadsheets manually with lots of reconciliation. And then there is the flexibility of the user experience to design their own custom views because everyone has their own way of wanting to see the data presented.

For the people at the back end, our data admins or model builders, I show them the flexibility, how easy it is to correlate it to other tools, how they can work with so much more data than they have in the past to create an intuitive tool for the front-end users and solve so many different problems with just one platform.

What is your advice to others thinking of starting their journey with Anaplan?

Fash: Make sure you're picking use cases that are tangible so that you can measure the value of what you are delivering, and small in size for your initial implementation before you expand into larger processes.

Make sure the use cases you put on Anaplan complement each other. The more naturally connected they are, the faster you can go, and the better the benefits you can reap across the business from the data sets.

Senior sponsorship is critical because you need that push for people to engage and make the change.

Recognize that it's going to take time to win the hearts and minds of people to introduce another tool. Encourage people to buy in by demonstrating the value of what you are doing.

Lisa: Don’t underestimate all the parts that go around creating the tool and the product. There's the engagement with the end users, the training program, and the change management. Sometimes things don’t go as people anticipate. So, it's easy to get wrapped up in the tool, but there are lots of things to consider alongside it for the whole project to be successful.

JPMorgan Chase is innovating their financial planning and analysis to evolve at scale. Although they are still part way through their digital transformation, they are already seeing the benefits of Anaplan helping them make informed decisions at market speed, using reliable, real-time data. We are grateful to Fash, Emma, and Lisa for giving us a fly-on-the-wall view into how they have introduced and continue to implement Anaplan in such a large and diverse business.

Learn more about JPMorgan’s Connected Planning journey from their on-demand Anaplan Connect session.
Anaplan is here to transform your financial planning capabilities — and much more. Visit our finance solution page to begin your own journey.