2degrees Case Study

Complex telecommunications company completes totally self-sufficient build of enterprise-wide forecasting solution

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Introduction

In 2009, after nine years of planning, 2degrees launched as New Zealand’s newest mobile company. They had one mission: to rock the boat of the country’s long-standing telecommunications duopoly. Now, the company’s disruptive pricing model and entrepreneurial hunger have turned them into New Zealand’s fastest growing mobile phone network. To date, they provide affordable mobile phone service to over one million new customers–or in other words, about a quarter of the country’s population.

In the middle of 2011’s rapid growth and expansion, 2degrees hired Andrew Paston, an experienced FP&A Manager, to find a platform that would enable the company to move away from spreadsheets and into the cloud for their reporting, forecasting, and planning. Paston went on the hunt for a solution that had the power and flexibility to manage daily change, increase visibility, and pave the way for future expansion and acquisitions.

The Business Challenge

The planning solution needed to keep pace with the high growth 2degrees was experiencing and the fact it is operating in a fast changing marketplace. High complexity modeling is a given in the telecommunications industry, where each new customer brings a whole host of variables to the table. “We’re not just selling a single product,” said Paston. “We have customers on different rates, different minutes, different text bundles, and different prepay bundles. To represent all that in Excel is next to impossible. And that’s before you back up the view to look at your channel sources. From there you can still back up to look at customer acquisitions.”

Enter Anaplan

Paston introduced 2degrees to a few different solutions, but as soon as they tried Anaplan, the choice was clear. “It was a bit of a no brainer, actually,” said Paston. “Once we got our hands on Anaplan we saw it was the only system we could easily build in ourselves. The others were too difficult to understand and required serious consulting.”

Totally Remote Adoption

After an initial trial, 2degrees was so confident in Anaplan’s easy-to-use UI and online support that they decided to proceed with a fully remote implementation. “We went through an online introductory training session with the head of customer adoption,” said Paston. “And then we just dove in.” As for the learning curve? “ There wasn’t much of one. Anaplan has an Excel feel. It’s not a programming language. It’s logical. It’s English sentences. But it allows you to do things you just can’t do with Excel, in terms of robustness, consolidation, and detail.”

With the online support of two Anaplanners, the 2degrees team completed the initial build from training to go live in just six weeks. “One of the reasons we chose Anaplan is because we didn’t feel reliant on the services team. We saw them as an extra resource to bounce ideas off. If we had a problem, we’d give them access to a model, pull up a meeting, share screens, and work out a solution. We never needed anyone to get on a plane.”

CELLCO Enterprise Operating Model

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Going Multidimensional

The biggest challenge that Paston’s team faced was learning to think multidimensionally. “Coming from a two-dimensional Excel background, our first impulse was to go and build lots of little modules,” said Paston. But Anaplan’s robust multidimensional environment made it easy for him to shift his perspective. “Anaplan lets you play with dimensions in a very intuitive way. It didn’t take us long to grasp the power and efficiency of multidimensional modeling.”

Collaboration and Connection

What Paston and his colleagues loved most was the “fluid style” building in Anaplan. “In other systems, you’ve got to pre-design everything and map it out in flowcharts for the services team,” said Paston. “But Anaplan enables you to go down one path, come back, regroup, and try another direction. It’s all about process.”

That fluid process empowered Paston and his team to build a huge rush of modules. The deeper Paston and his team dove into the build, the clearer the picture they had of their business. “In Anaplan, all your modules link to all the others, so when you change a key assumption, you see how that flows through.”

Additional Usages

“People are starting to understand that Anaplan can do everything they do in Excel, but with a lot more detail,” said Paston. Most recently, the team built a connected cash-flow balance sheet using the example financial statements from Anaplan’s website support forums. “We used the online models as a basis to build out our own version. It was very straightforward.” Paston and his colleagues are always finding new use cases to pull onto the platform or ways to improve in-place processes.

ROI

With over a year of modeling under their belts, Paston feels his team is starting to take full advantage of the platform’s power. “We had our annual budget meeting yesterday,” reported Paston, “and management was in awe of the results presented. We’re showing models that directly help people make faster, more value-enhancing decisions.”

Paston can’t imagine what business would be like without the platform. “To do what we do now without Anaplan would require an insane amount of additional staff on our FP&A Team. Just in terms of the staff we haven’t had to hire, the system has more than paid for itself. And that’s not even taking into account the savings from increased transparency, and better insight into our business drivers leading to better decisions. It’s just so easy to stay on top of our forecasts and reporting.”

We had our annual budget meeting yesterday and management was in awe of the results presented. We’re showing models that are helping people make faster, more value-enhancing decisions.
Andrew Paston, 2degrees
Use Cases
  • Demand Planning
  • Pricing Strategy
  • Sales Forecasting
  • Workforce Planning
  • Operational Planning
  • Profitability Analysis
Challenge
  • Rapidly growing and expanding business
  • Complex multi-variable planning processes driven by disconnected Excel spreadsheets
  • Need for entirely remote implementation and adoption
Solution
  • Increased power allows for lightning fast rolling forecasts and visibility into key drivers
  • Replaced spreadsheets with single data model on Anaplan
  • Online training and remote support
Results at a Glance
  • Confident decisions based on a thorough analysis of all business drivers
  • One central location to calculate customer acquisition costs and customer lifetime value
  • Reduced time spent calculating and consolidating financial reports for executive team members
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