Excelitas Technologies eliminates thousands of spreadsheets with Anaplan

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Excelitas Technologies, provider of photonic innovations for a wide range of industries, managed its complex sales forecast with a homegrown Salesforce application and thousands of spreadsheets, resulting in a slow, rigid process that couldn’t keep up with a changing market. With Anaplan, sales forecasting is more agile and productive, and the sales finance team can rapidly adjust plans as business conditions change.

We really want to make sure [the] solution we design has some intelligence built into it, and Anaplan allows us to do that for our sales forecasting, supply chain planning, and other core business processes.
Amit Shah, Chief Information Officer




Excelitas managed sales forecasting using a combination of an in-house designed Salesforce application and thousands of disparate spreadsheets. Silos across Excel® and other enterprise applications couldn’t deliver the flexibility, speed, or agility the sales team needed to respond to fluctuating market conditions. To keep pace with the continuous flow of innovation, the organization began to look for a scalable platform that could adapt to its business model.


Through a partnership with BetterVu, Excelitas implemented the Anaplan platform in just 10 weeks and quickly saw a boost in productivity. Shifting from Excel to a cloud-based platform, the sales team gained the ability to easily access, analyze, and refine their sales data. By replacing error-prone spreadsheets scattered across the enterprise, the organization empowered its sales team with a modular tool that worked for them, without significant assistance from an IT organization.


Before Anaplan, Excelitas’ sales forecasting process was overly time-consuming, as the sales team had to email large spreadsheet files back and forth to make updates to models. Now, the process is far more agile and productive. In a technology industry that’s constantly changing, implementing the Anaplan platform has helped Excelitas evolve with its customers, create value fast, and drive intelligent decision-making. And in an era when predictability is huge, Excelitas can now effectively compare forecasts to reality and improve upon the output.

Why Anaplan

The Excelitas executive team considered three technology vendors but ultimately chose to implement Anaplan because of its scalability, flexibility, and speedy time-to-value. With Anaplan, the organization can build applications that fit its business model, rather than have to fit its business model into the mold of rigid out-of-the-box technology.

Amit Shah: My name is Amit Shah. I work for a company called Excelitas Technologies, and my title is Chief Information Officer or CIO.

We zeroed in on three to four different companies, and Anaplan was one of the companies that I really liked. From my perspective, we liked the fact that it was a platform-it allowed us to build applications that fit our business model, rather than some black-box application that I have to use in a way that they think I should run my business. We liked the fact that it’s scalable-it’s very easy to manage once you design an application. So I can give it to our business users; I don’t have to have IT managing every aspect of the application, so the time to value was much faster than some of their competitors. I really liked those aspects.

The proof-of-concept was done in a little less than two weeks. We presented that proof-of-concept to our SVP of Sales, our EVP of a half-a-billion-dollar business, our COO, our CFO, and they were very impressed. That made getting funding much easier. Then we selected a partner called BetterVu, and we kicked off the project. Within 10 weeks, we had the application up and running-and we just went live last week.

As I mentioned, we sell into multiple markets. We have close to 10,000 customers and 20,000 parts, and we have to forecast for all the things we make. Our goal is to give products to our customer when they want it, without building up inventories. The sales forecasting is very important for supply chain planning and making sure we are able to deliver on our promise to our customers.

Before Anaplan, we had a combination of a Salesforce.com-based application, which was designed in-house, and thousands of Excel files.

Each Excel file had anything from 16,000-20,000 rows, and each file up to 50-100 megabytes. I used to joke with my sales op lead Richard Ancorn that “you clog my email system” because he used to email those files to his colleagues all day long.

Before Anaplan, we just had a bunch of information silos living in Excel files and other enterprise applications-and it wasn’t giving us the flexibility, the speed, the agility we were looking for to respond to the market conditions.

Number one, we are far more productive. We are not wasting time correcting Excel mistakes. We are able to reduce the time it takes to do sales forecasting. Because it’s a cloud-based application, as long as you have some kind of connectivity, you can connect into it and modify your data as you need.

First and foremost, I can see our sales forecasting process has become far more productive-and that is very important from my perspective. Second, it allows us to be agile. As our business changes, we participate in all different markets. And our customers, they all want to go to market fast, and we have to supply them with the products they need. So our business continuously changes-as the pace of innovation changes, our business model will change. If we cannot change with our customers, we will be left behind. From my perspective, I have given our sales organization a tool that allows them to be very agile and make our customers successful.

A decade ago, CIOs were about ERP systems, and which version of database and what hardware we use. We don’t worry about that, and we shouldn’t worry about that, today. Today, I worry about time to value. I need to create products. I need to support our business organization so that we can create value as fast as they need us to add value-and for me, that is the number-one thing on my list.

There are areas within our business where we need to provide users the tools and technology that allows them to manage themselves. Sales is definitely one of those areas where we want to empower them with a tool that works for them, without a significant assistance from an IT organization.

For us, I think the platform, first and foremost, has to be agile. It has to allow us to change our applications as the business changes. That’s number one. It needs to be scalable.

I want to make sure as a CIO that as we acquire companies, we are able to integrate them and make them part of our core corporate processes. Scalability is equally important to me. The other thing is, we are living in an age where predictabilities is huge. We really want to make sure the solution we design has some intelligence built into it, and Anaplan allows us to do that for our sales forecasting, supply chain planning, and other core business processes, where we can take back the feedback of what we thought would happen versus what happened and continuously improve the output.