Getting Connected Planning right

Get practical advice on implementing Anaplan for retail, including the key strategies that helped HD Supply achieve a 60–70% Connected Planning footprint.

Bob Debicki 0:00:04.3:

You all hear me okay? Yes. Okay, so we are the last thing before the cocktail reception. Getting Connected Planning Right. Okay, so if you’re here for Getting Connected Planning Right, you are in the right place. You got that right. Hi. My name is Bob Debicki. I work in the industry part of Anaplan. We call it industry advisory. I get to work with customers on the retail side, the consumer product side, the wholesale side. So, I’m the lucky one that gets to interface with awesome customers like Steven Waugh here from Home Depot Supply. So, we’re going to spend a little bit of time today talking about Home Depot Supply’s journey with Anaplan over the last three to four years and also maybe the most important thing, lessons learned from somebody who’s been through it, lived the dream and has come out the other end with a large portion of their planning activities connected. So, without any further ado, Steven, why don’t you introduce yourself?


Steven Waugh 0:01:09.8:

Thanks, Bob. Hey, everyone. My name is Steven Waugh. I am with Home Depot Supply where I lead our connected planning efforts. My path through the Anaplan ecosystem started on the partner side, which is why I know a decent number in this room. It’s good to see you all again. I hope I didn’t screw up your implementations. I see some concerning giggles for after that. Once I had the opportunity to switch over to the customer side, I started thinking long and hard about the concept of connected planning. A part of the struggle on the partner side was, or something that I’m sure most people share here, is how do I not get siloed or pigeonholed? So that’s where the concept of connected planning as a strategic offering really came to fruition, so excited to talk to you all about what that looks like at HD Supply and definitely get some feedback. Definitely open to any and all ideas.


Bob Debicki 0:02:10.8:


Thank you. So, the next half hour is yours. We’re going to have some Q&A at the end. We might even let Andrew come up here and summarize the day for you if we have the time, but we’re just going to proceed forward now. It looks like this. I mentioned that already. So okay, so I had the good fortune of going to the Home Depot Supply headquarters, beautiful offices in Atlanta. Awesome. Met with Steven and I go, ‘Steven, how are you guys doing with Anaplan?’ He stands up with a whiteboard and a pen, and he starts drawing out all the different things that they’re doing. Of course, I took a picture of it, but I figure we could go through that from, what is it, about 2020 to now, something like that? He can share with you what their vision was and how connected planning evolved. Then we’ll get into the lessons learned.


Steven Waugh 0:03:05.4:

So started in 2020 with a basic pilot. Let me be clear, I’m going to start with the Anaplan portion of Connected Planning at HD Supply, and that’s a key distinction. So started with a pilot mainly in our supply chain warehouse labor team, moved on to finance, but really the HD Supply, the connected planning ecosystem is very horizontally integrated, so we cover all manners of use cases across finance, sales, supply chain, IT. The key distinction is we don’t build a use case unless it connects to another one. We have very few silos, even within Anaplan at HD Supply. If we build a model in Anaplan, it is likely a either inbound or outbound source of another model. So, everything that you see across our – we’ll just say 15 use cases – everything operates on a string. So, we make one change, we try to really cascade those changes down to the broader ecosystem. So, we try to avoid the vertical integrations or becoming too siloed on the vertical integrations and ensure that all of the use cases talk to each other.


Bob Debicki 0:04:21.9:

Was that something that you stumbled upon after going through Anaplan and realizing, hey, if we’re going to do a use case, it needs to connect to another use case? Okay. Rather than you having the forethought upfront going, you know what, if we’re going to do a use case, it needs to connect to another use case?


Steven Waugh 0:04:36.9:

Well, connected planning is often an ambiguous term that’s used throughout the market, but we are trying to actually see it to fruition. So again, on the Anaplan side, everything does interconnect, but in terms of the Connected Planning offering, we also do a number of other things that have made our team a bit more sticky throughout the organization, mainly taking over data and analytics for the CFO organization or taking over a lead role in master data governance. We try to make sure that we are complementing our Anaplan offering with non-Anaplan offerings that make our team much more than just the Anaplan team. It is a true connected planning as a strategic offering that has allowed us to become trusted advisors of the C-Suite but then also trusted advisors of the people that are the random analysts within IT, working on master data changes, relying on us for those as well. So, we hit both ends of the spectrum in our unique position in the organization.


Bob Debicki 0:05:37.7:

Thank you. So quick question for you. So, when you’re doing all of this thinking up the connected planning vision for the company, how much of that is data-related and analytics-related? How much of that is process-oriented? How much of that is governance-oriented? What’s the right mix and how do you figure that out early on in the process? That’s not a tough one, is it?


Steven Waugh 0:05:59.8:

It’s a very tough one. Thank you. He didn’t tell me he was going to ask that one earlier.


Bob Debicki 0:06:04.5:

I got him, I got him.


Steven Waugh 0:06:05.2:

You did get me.


Bob Debicki 0:06:06.8:

I owe you.


Steven Waugh 0:06:07.2:

So, every use case is different. I hate to use the copout answer there, but we have determined that we are not going to build unless the process is defined. Now the process will never be fully defined, but we are going to avoid migrating anything into Anaplan with a process that still needs executive buy-in and buy-in from end users as well. The end user buy-in is just as important as the executive buy-in, so that is something that we harp on considerably. Just to back up for one second. We sit within finance, so we do not sit within the business. Sorry, we do not sit within IT, we sit within finance, but we act as the intermediaries to all of the functions at the company, given that we are so exposed. So, while we may report into the finance organization, we do sit on a bit of an island, but that also has allowed Anaplan to sit under one umbrella or under one team, and that’s allowed us to be much more nimble and reactive as opportunities come up. Buy-in is a lot easier when it’s one person effectively saying yes or no.


Bob Debicki 0:07:10.5:

How many people in the audience have Anaplan installed today, by show of hands? Okay, maybe a quarter of you. Do you find it challenging when you’re trying to recommend to the organization what to do next, or what the right approach is to something? You do? Okay, I see heads nodding. Okay. Steven, I know that your team has had success being that liaison between finance and IT. What are some of the things that have helped you move forward in the right direction, even at some times when there was a lot of questions as to whether or not it was the right thing to do, etc.? How do you navigate that?


Steven Waugh 0:07:49.3:

Yes, so if we cut to the next slide.


Bob Debicki 0:07:51.5:



Steven Waugh 0:07:52.0:


It breaks down our strategic…


Bob Debicki 0:07:53.7:

I have the technology.


Steven Waugh 0:07:54.2:

…position a little bit more.


Bob Debicki 0:07:56.4:

Okay. That it?


Steven Waugh 0:07:56.7:



Bob Debicki 0:07:57.5:



Steven Waugh 0:07:58.0:

So, I’ve mentioned the strategic offering, connected planning beyond just Anaplan. Also very key to point out that you never stop having to nurture executive champions. So, an executive champion, they will buy into a use case that is of interest to them, but in order to sell a vision of broader connected planning or broader Anaplan models, you have to make sure that they know it’s worth their time. At HD Supply, we are thankful that we have very bought-in leadership to the point where it is a full partnership amongst all of the L1 leaders in making sure that just because your use case isn’t prioritized, if we’re prioritizing a supply chain use case, it’s probably for good reason, so we’ve had excellent buy-in from the L1 level, and they have pretty much left us alone to just attack. Now a key part of that is showing quantifiable value. So, everyone touched on that this morning. It’s probably the hardest thing to do within our – or something that building the muscle to being able to do it was one of our biggest hurdles, but we’re at the point of maturity now where we’re actually able to quantify a lot of those touchpoints between the models and actually show what the business is getting out of it. Being able to quantify that in a manner that a finance team will accept and sign off on has really allowed us to unlock a lot of flexibility for pursuing additional use cases, so the quantifiable value has been absolutely key.


Bob Debicki 0:09:31.6:

So just out of curiosity, when you quantify your value, is that something that’s just collected in your Anaplan environment, and you can look at a metric and say, okay, we’re up or we’re down, or is that something that you go off and do a separate study? How does that usually work?


Steven Waugh 0:09:46.9:

Again, it’s a bit different for each use case, but a lot of it is the productivity gains that everyone is aware of, but I’d say that the productivity gains are table stakes, and they last one conversation in terms of selling the platform. So, our CFO quickly said, ‘Okay, understood about the productivity gains. Quickly move past that and show me what else I’m getting.’ So that has forced us to be much more proactive about saying, ‘Hey, this number is more accurate now than it was previously.’ Without giving away the farm here, there’s a few methods that we have to be able to accomplish that.


Bob Debicki 0:10:23.3:

So, when I was outside with Steven and we were talking about this session, I said, ‘Hey, if you were to give me a percentage of your business that you think is connected at this point, your planning process, what would you say? Is it ten per cent, twenty per cent?’ You said something like, ‘Sixty to seventy per cent.’ So, I just thought to myself, how did you figure out where to begin? Was there a burning issue you were trying to fix, and then you just recognized you could scale? Or did you come in and say, ‘Hey, we want to do all these things, but we probably should start here because of the benefit to the business or the ability for us to be able to execute, etc.’ How did you come up with that?


Steven Waugh 0:10:59.7:

So, if we go to the next slide – you’re giving yourself your transitions, Bob, here. [laughter]. Again, these transitions…


Bob Debicki 0:11:06.3:

Is that it?


Steven Waugh 0:11:06.9:

…we’re not…


Bob Debicki 0:11:07.1:

Aha, lessons learned. [Laughter].


Steven Waugh 0:11:08.0:

So, let’s talk about, and sorry I know you’re not supposed to turn around and look at the slide when you’re presenting, but I can’t see the slide, so…


Bob Debicki 0:11:15.3:

Yes Sarah, can you fix this? Can you move the slide over there or something?


Steven Waugh 0:11:18.0:

Let’s just move the screen. [Laughter]. Okay, so a few highlights. The first one is don’t rush. Especially on the partner side, I saw a lot of opportunities where it was a rush to build the most elaborate phase one model known to man in the first go around of an implementation. So that is something that we are ardently against at HD Supply, and thankfully, we’ve been able to solve the most basic elements of a use case before starting to build them up. So, the don’t rush aspect has been a key component of establishing that operating model. The other key is to – I’m sorry…


Bob Debicki 0:11:59.9:

Owning the data.


Steven Waugh 0:12:04.0:

Yes. Owning the data. So, owning the data was easily the greatest thing that we did at HD Supply in terms of connected planning. We are massive users of Snowflake at HD Supply, and every single integration that we get into the Anaplan platform is from Snowflake. When we first started it was from ten different systems. We were reliant on IT support to be able to source all of our data. We scrapped that. Now we own the end-to-end spectrum of acquiring the data, building out the planning models, building out additional reporting models such as Tableau dashboards, if needed, outside of Anaplan and then integrating that back into our ERP, like SAP. So, we own the full end-to-end spectrum of any use case, and that has allowed us to, to really become, again, stickier in the organization. Also, get more involved in the master data governance. If we’re owning the data and being more central to the scale of the data environment, that allows us to be a pivotal part of those conversations of how are we structuring our data architecture as an enterprise moving forward, and where can the Connected Planning team help with that?


Bob Debicki 0:13:22.6:

Awesome. There’s a note up there that says, ‘Take on more tools… strategically’.


Steven Waugh 0:13:27.7:

So that goes back into the Snowflake and Tableau piece. Those are our two biggest partners of the Anaplan ecosystem. The Snowflake was the biggest unlock. So that is something that that paired with the tableau where let’s say some use cases are better reported at Tableau than Anaplan, but still leverage the outputs of Anaplan. That has been something that has been a key unlock for us.


Bob Debicki 0:13:52.8:

What’s your connectivity at this point into ERP, like SAP, for example? Is that…


Steven Waugh 0:13:58.8:

Yes, so inbound and outbound we have ERP feeds, so we definitely ingest quite a bit from SAP and then send the planning outputs back once we’ve completed a few of our use cases. So, we’ve started automating, where we have automated all of those integrations at the weekly and annual cadences. The weekly piece cannot be understated, so when we talk about solving for specific use cases that will have the most impact, we’ve noticed that the annual models that use twice a year, four times a year, that is something that we’ve typically tried to avoid. It helped build out a footprint of Anaplan, but now that we are more mature, we’re focusing on those weekly, daily, hourly use cases. So, we have everything from planning our weekly sales forecast, and we push that all the way down to our DC, so that every DC operator knows exactly what every department there should be doing at every given hour of the day.


Bob Debicki 0:15:02.2:

Interesting. So, pushing back on scope creep. That’s a good one.


Steven Waugh 0:15:07.9:

That is a good one. It’s very important. So, it’s always a balance of pushing back on scope creep from leadership. Otherwise, you’ll never be stable, and you’ll always be iterating, but it’s important to embrace the scope creep from your end users because if they’re not bought in, that’s going to bubble up. When that bubbles up, the leadership’s going to say, ‘Hey, what’s going on? Why isn’t this successful?’ So, we have found that adding that trinket for a power user or that little widget that helps them save a few hours a week goes a long way. So, we have embraced those types of enhancements while pushing back pretty hard on, hey, let’s go try this big monstrosity of a use case that’s going to require a ton of resourcing, take six months and then may or may not work. That goes back to the weekly use cases. We’ve had a lot of success of just the quick hits. So, I said we’re very horizontally integrated across the company. A lot of those models are not rocket science developments. They’re solving for connecting the teams, exchanging information, providing insights into plan implications and what decision impacts there are, but they are also not integrating machine learning in every single use case to the point where none of them are successful.


Bob Debicki 0:16:28.9:

Okay. All right. We’re going to keep moving on. Diversify and case exposure and promote ownership.


Steven Waugh 0:16:38.0:

So, we are very proud of our associate development at HD Supply. A few things have really allowed us to scale the team since 2020. Mainly the diversity in our use cases has helped keep people engaged. So, there’s no one on the Anaplan team that’s stuck on one use case for years at a time, to the point where they’re like, ‘You know what? I hate sales planning. I’m done with it. I’m moving on. All the sales reps yell at me.’ If you’re a sales rep in here, you know you yell at people. [Laughter]. So, the diversity in use cases has been something that’s been key. So, everyone serves as an architect on our team. Also, being able to learn new skills beyond Anaplan, so you’re not just an Anaplan expert, you’re getting more involved in SQL, snowflake, Tableau, etc. To really make sure that Anaplan is not the only thing that they do avoids the feeling of being in a silo unless they want to be in a silo. We have people that want to pursue Anaplan as their full-time responsibility. Others that really value being able to spend half of their day in the Anaplan platform.


Steven Waugh 0:17:48.0

So being able to be more diverse on what everyone’s working on throughout the given day is key. There’s a lateral leadership aspect to Anaplan, so because we’re so horizontally integrated, you’re not always going to be a manager, but you’re still going to be responsible for leading. The thing that we like to focus on is there’s a real benefit in being able to lead laterally. At times it’s more difficult than actually having direct reports. So, everyone on our team is viewed as a trusted advisor for these planning use cases. They lead the functional teams that they support, and a lot of the times we actually participate in the planning as well. So, we’re not just a technical support team supporting reporting and analytics planning, Anaplan development, we’re actually doing the planning ourselves as well. Everyone – we’re very proud of this – everyone on our team could backfill any of the roles that we support in Anaplan, and they could probably backfill all of them. No one is limited to only having one option when they leave our team. They can go to any group in the company and be proficient because of how exposed we are in Anaplan. That’s something that has really resonated with our associates.


Bob Debicki 0:19:01.2:

Yes, so you probably don’t know this, but in the three years that Steven’s been with his team at Home Depot Supply, he has no turnover. As you can see, everybody on his team gets a really great, diverse background of capabilities, and they can plug themselves into just about anywhere. That coupled with the fact that you’re not a pure IT org and you’re not a pure finance, you’re between the two acting as a partner in an advocate, he’s got a really interesting team over there. What do you have now? Four people or five people?


Steven Waugh 0:19:38.4:

Oh, we’re up to eight.


Bob Debicki 0:19:39.8:

Eight? Okay. Do you call that a center of excellence?


Steven Waugh 0:19:41.1:

No, we don’t. We call it the Connected Planning team…


Bob Debicki 0:19:44.3:

The CPT?


Steven Waugh 0:19:45.5:

…because we try not to pigeonhole it as the center of excellence because if anyone calls us the Anaplan team, I lose my mind. We are much more than the Anaplan team. That’s why we try to focus on the connected planning aspect.


Bob Debicki 0:19:58.1:

I don’t know about that.


Steven Waugh 0:19:59.4:

I’m not mad at you. [Laughter].


Bob Debicki 0:20:01.8:

Okay, okay. We’ll go with that. You have eight people on your team, and how many total end users do you support? This, I think is really interesting because if you add up all the people across all those areas, you’ve got eight people supporting a wide variety of things.


Steven Waugh 0:20:20.6:

Yes. I guess I’ll say it’s a pretty high number at this point. I won’t go too far into it, but yes, we support many, many people across the HD Supply organization, both in supply chain sales, finance, IT, etc. So, our team sees a lot of personalities, a lot of leaders. They are in elevated conversations consistently. So, it’s been a great operating model. Honestly, it takes a lot of trust. So, this is an entirely new concept. So, they’re trusting us to figure it out, but thankfully everyone feels like we’re figuring it out together, and everyone’s bought in on moving that vision forward. So, like I said, if anyone has questions, comments, feedback on how you think we’re dealing with that. Oh, here we go. We’re rolling.


Bob Debicki 0:21:11.2:

We have a question in the audience.


Audience 0:21:17.2:

So, we are just in the beginning stages of exploring connected planning and we have suspicions that we will be running up against resistance from certain leadership team members. Did you have the experience of having leadership team members who did not want to see the value, and how did you navigate that?


Steven Waugh 0:21:36.6:

I think we have been very lucky with our L1 buy-in. It’s mainly our CIO, Mike Guhl, our CFO, Scott Bohrer, the head of our supply chain teams, they have been extremely supportive of scale, but that didn’t happen overnight. That required us to make sure, going back to the quantifiable value, that the use cases that we were starting on, we didn’t go too crazy on the depth. We did show quantifiable return that they were getting on that investment, but until we had that quantifiable return and were able to forecast how it may benefit their organizations as well, it was very difficult to sell into other functions. So, getting that first use case down well was the key for us.


Bob Debicki 0:22:27.3:

Yes. Any other questions before we… Oh, okay. Hi.


Audience 0:22:33.2:

Hi, thanks. I really appreciate you sharing. I had a question. You were talking a little bit about quantifiable values, and I was just wondering if you could expand a little bit further on – I know you mentioned productivity, but how you define those KPIs, then how you kept tracking them and measuring them for success?


Steven Waugh 0:22:52.9:

Sure. So that’s also the benefit of partnering with other tools like Anaplan and Tableau and Snowflake. We’ve been able to create a pretty robust data model within Snowflake and Anaplan that combines our actuals and plan data at a pretty granular level. Then for each use case, we actually do the business cases in Anaplan where we set up an NPV and IRR model. Every use case needs a data model or a benefits case signed off on before it’s actually deployed. That’s been a big focus of our CFO making sure, ‘Hey, we are fully supportive of Anaplan. Let’s just make sure that we’re getting a return there.’ It’s been a very healthy exercise for us to make sure that what we’re pursuing actually has value. So, I mentioned the productivity, but then we’ve also been able to take – the snapshotting aspect has been a huge unlock for us being able to send planned snapshots either within Anaplan into a repository within Anaplan, or back into Snowflake at a very frequent cadence has allowed us to be more believable when we say, ‘Hey, Anaplan actually is moving sales performance or labor optimization.’ We also have certain metrics at HD Supply that show inefficiencies throughout the business, and we’re able to tie our outputs back to seeing the improvement in those metrics. So a bit of it is HD Supply specific and how we have data, but I do think it’s a model that most people have the ability to attain. Like I said earlier, it’s not easy showing that value.


Bob Debicki 0:24:43.0:

Yes, [?Aishwarya 0:24:49.9]?


Audience 0:24:49.9:

Can you talk a little bit about your talent mix? Do the folks that join your team come in with some Anaplan experience, or are they going through L1, L2, all of that once they join?


Steven Waugh 0:25:00.4:

Definitely. So, this is my opportunity to embarrass Ben in the back. So, everyone, Ben, the fellow bald person in the back, is a member of the HD Supply Connected Planning team. We did not plan for the only other bald guy to come to New York. It just happened to play out that way. [Laughter]. Ben is a great example of someone that did not come in with more of a technical background and was able to start from the ground up with Anaplan as their first foray into a technical offering. I will say we have had extreme success with finding mostly finance associates with strong SQL backgrounds to get bought into our team, and that has allowed us to just make everyone a Swiss Army knife. So everyone can, on any given day, build in Anaplan, go develop a data model for a new Anaplan use case but then also build out a report in Tableau as a result. Then we’ve also tried to find legacy IT leadership to help us make inroads within IT and manage that relationship. That has been a key offer or a key contributor to our success. Was anyone at the Atlanta conference last year? No. Scott was? Okay. Scott and Bob were there.


Bob Debicki 0:26:19.3:

Scott was.


Steven Waugh 0:26:19.9:

I made a quote that everyone needs a Jay. Jay is the senior manager on our team. She came from IT and allowed us to just get a ton of credibility in that organization. That has helped us, one, on the master data governance side, be in tune in those conversations and help driving them, but then also, just from an enterprise architecture point of view, how can we make sure that the company is heading in a direction that complements us, complements our Anaplan ecosystem, and what can we do to push those conversations forwards? That’s the highlights, yes.


Bob Debicki 0:26:57.2:

All right. How are we doing on time, Sarah?


Sarah 0:27:02.2:

We’re good. I just had a text. They are opening the bar early.


Bob Debicki 0:27:06.2:

Oh, well, on that note… [Laughter]. So, a couple of things. I have one more question for Steven, and then I’ll turn it over to Andrew and then you can hit the bar, I guess. So, Steven, so what does the future look like for you in Anaplan? What are you thinking?


Steven Waugh 0:27:26.2:

We are absolutely committed to making connected planning a strategic pillar at HD Supply for years to come. So, we will continue to push and enmesh its foundation into the broader aspects of the business. We would love if connected planning was its own function at the company. So that is something that we’ll just continue to pursue, continue to play with, and make sure that we’re doing as much of a good faith effort to seeing that vision realized. So that is definitely one big idea that we’ve had at the company.


Bob Debicki 0:28:00.7:

All right. Awesome. So, listen, Stephen is a fantastic customer. We love working with him. I want to thank you for joining us today and sharing your journey with our community. Most of you don’t know this, but Steven isn’t feeling 100 per cent, but he decided that he wanted to be here, and he wanted to carry it on anyway. So, thank you for that.


Steven Waugh 0:28:21.3:

Blame the baby. [Laughter].


Bob Debicki 0:28:24.3:

More success to you and Home Depot Supply, so thank you.


Unknown Speaker 0:28:32.5:

Thank you, Steven.


Steven Waugh, Director, Information Technology, HD Supply

Bob Debicki, Senior CPG & Retail Industry Solutions Director, Anaplan