Scenario planning gives Outreach an edge in a volatile environment

Comprehensive finance and workforce planning, including scenario analysis and granular vendor spend tracking, keeps tech company on track

Like many technology companies, needed to understand its people costs and manage spending, even as the business environment grew volatile. With comprehensive workforce and financial planning on the Anaplan platform, Outreach developed workforce scenario-planning capabilities and granular tracking of vendor spending, which have helped it navigate a changing business climate.
We’re able to stay ahead of any challenges and market moves to achieve the prioritized targets for Outreach and our customers. The flexibility of Anaplan planning makes that possible.
Robbie Phelps, Solutions Architect,


hours saved monthly in vendor spend analysis helps keep OpEx under control


scenario analysis supports agility in a volatile business environment


visibility into spending empowers leaders to manage budgets

Outreach describes itself as a “team of passionate people working together and winning together.” Outreach is an international platform with 1,000 employees who help build, sell, and support their AI-powered sales execution platform used by more than 6,000 global customers.

“Workforce planning within our company can be summarized into three main groups,” explains Robbie Phelps, Solutions Architect at Outreach. “We have corporate departments like Human Resources, IT, finance, and marketing. We have an experienced sales team. And we have an engineering and product organization.” Each group has multiple departments, budget owners, compensation bands, and employees in multiple geographies with different currencies, laws, and tax rates. It all adds up to a workforce that can be difficult to plan for — and that dominates the company’s budget: “Like many software companies, people costs are our largest expense,” Phelps says.

Outreach shared other traits with fast-growing tech companies: Multiple cloud-based data sources, rapidly evolving financial planning and analysis processes, and multiple vendors. They wanted to bring it all under control.

Start strong and continuously improve

An All-In-One FP&A application, created in partnership with Allitix and built within the Anaplan platform, was implemented in 2019. “Allitix delivered a fully developed functional model that we could plug into our HR and finance systems for headcount planning and financial statement modeling,” Phelps recalls. “We’ve made steady improvements on that foundation to make Anaplan even more integral to our operations.”

“Outreach recognized the value a comprehensive, out-of-the-box solution could provide and were early adopters of our All-In-One FP&A application,” said Ron Baylo, Director at Allitix. “They achieved an excellent time to value on their investment in Anaplan and Allitix.”

Today, the system is used by Outreach’s FP&A team and dozens of budget owners. Data sources include ADP, Workday, and NetSuite, with Snowflake serving as a shared data lake and Anaplan CloudWorks handling data integration. “Mappings and summaries take us from the general ledger account level all the way up to the P&L,” Phelps explains. “The flexibility of the Anaplan platform to align with how the business is changing enables us to consistently upgrade and improve our forecasting. We use Anaplan constantly to create new forecasts and new models.”

Scenario planning delivers ROI

The workforce planning solution includes an integrated budget-to-hire process that provides visibility into any point in that cycle, and that forecasts people costs to come. “We're using Anaplan to show our open roles and cost per employee — for actual and forecast periods — including people in our recruiting system who we plan to hire in the future,” Phelps says. This “fully loaded” headcount cost forecast incorporates compensation band, geography, taxation, travel and expenses, morale, attrition potential, and backfill cost, and the result rolls directly into Outreach’s Profit and Loss (P&L) statement.

Finance uses the same HR data to perform detailed workforce scenario planning. “We can decide where and when to hire people based on expenses and revenue projections,” Phelps says. “Our goal is not just to maintain financial results. We’re able to stay ahead of any challenges and market moves to achieve the prioritized targets for Outreach and our customers. The flexibility of Anaplan planning makes that possible.”

Another comprehensive Anaplan-powered solution — vendor spend analysis — provides visibility into historical spend by vendor, timeframe, project, and other parameters. The finance team uses the data to forecast vendor spending, using actuals for material vendors (those Outreach spends more than $250,000 per year with) and summarized data from hundreds of smaller vendors. Vendor spending is automatically mapped and compiled. “Mapping in Anaplan alone saves our analysts countless hours every month,” Phelps says. “And because it’s done on the same platform where we track actuals, it’s much more than a cost analysis tool for finance. We give budget owners granular visibility into their spending — which helps them to become more efficient — and we also summarize spending up for management review.”

The comprehensive Anaplan solution implemented by Allitix delivers substantial business value. “The biggest ROI we’ve seen has come from scenario planning,” Phelps says. “We saw the value of Anaplan spike in 2020, when the market became more volatile.” Having a base case for revenue, an upside scenario, and a downside scenario — and then planning the workforce and expenses using those scenarios — has proved invaluable in times of dramatic change.

“It's not just trying to predict the future,” Phelps explains. “We start from where we want to be in the coming year, and work backward to what it will take to get there. And we do it quickly and accurately — that’s the real value of Anaplan.”

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