Pandora case study
Pandora plans for rapid growth with Anaplan
Pandora, the leading internet radio service, is redefining radio by revolutionizing the way people discover new music while listening to their favorite artists and tunes. The personalized radio service is powered by the Music Genome Project®, the most comprehensive analysis of music ever undertaken. Using this musicological “DNA” and constant listener feedback, Pandora crafts personalized radio stations for more than 150 million registered users.
Against a backdrop of tremendous growth, Jared Waterman, Vice President of Financial Planning & Analysis, was charged with putting in place the Financial Planning systems infrastructure at Pandora to handle rapid growth. In June 2010, Jared and his team had the unique opportunity to start with a blank piece of paper. As a company, Pandora had chosen to create a business application landscape based entirely in the cloud; as such any new finance system had to be easy to use, flexible, cloud based, and open to exchanging data with other cloud solutions.
For the FP&A team, the key advantage of this approach was avoidance of the painful error prone spreadsheet environment that many Finance teams have to endure.When looking at the road ahead and envisioning their ideal systems, the team knew from the outset they wanted to leverage the latest Cloud Computing technology.
The Business Challenge
With rapid growth, one of the biggest challenges the team faced was bringing structure, infrastructure and analysis to key areas of the business. Pandora’s key challenge was to pick a system that helped them today and could scale with them in the future which meant it was especially important to choose a flexible planning system capable of keeping pace with the rapid change.
From the very first demonstration of Anaplan, the team was impressed with the Platform’s ease of use, flexibility, and Excel like familiarity. States Waterman, “We felt Anaplan was a great long term solution for Pandora both in terms of usability and data exchange with other cloud solutions.”
Rapid Model Build by End Users
With Anaplan providing design support, it took the Pandora team of “Anaplanners” just 3 months from initial engagement to project completion. Uploading data primarily from Financial Force, they quickly built out their entire financial model in Anaplan, including Long Range Planning, current month performance, income statement, cash flow & balance sheet, headcount, stock & equity assumptions and fixed assets – all without extensive consulting or IT support.
A team of Pandora analysts work on the Platform daily and have been quick to adopt Anaplan primarily “because it hasn’t been a huge jump to make from Excel”. Waterman states “My team continues to push more data and models into Anaplan. That’s really great as it’s usually a struggle to move off Excel. Instead, we are going all in on the planning system”.
Collaboration on a Single Platform
The unique architecture behind the Platform enables a new way of collaborating to build models. “Anaplan allows us to work with most of the flexibility that Excel offers but in a structured manner so that we can collaborate on a model in real-time.” Deeper levels of collaboration increase the speed with which models are developed in a group and lead to a collective understanding of the model – not just one expert.
Longer term benefits of using Anaplan include increased transparency and sophisticated permissioning. As Pandora grows, there will be members of the FP&A team and department heads outside of the home office using Anaplan. Waterman makes the comment that with on-premise planning systems, it’s difficult to have truly transparent data, to see what others are doing, and what their assumptions are. Now with Anaplan, the assumptions behind the model are clearly visible using the unique Blueprint functionality.
Top Notch Support
Waterman and his team have been very impressed with the level of support provided by Anaplan. Any hiccups have been addressed very quickly by the team of Anaplan Gurus led by Anaplan’s Chief Adoption Officer. They particularly love the live support where any team member can call, email or make use of the Live Chat functionality and receive immediate assistance.
Rapid Model Build by End Users
Looking ahead, Waterman is keen to push the Platform to consume more data. “We now have our base model in Anaplan and we’re integrating the system with multiple data sources and preparing to push out the data and dashboard to other levels within the organization”.
- Financial Planning
- Sales Forecasting
- Rapidly growing company and market
- Data Feeds from Disparate Systems
- Corporate Philosophy to leverage cloud based solutions
- Complete FP&A solution: long range planning, monthly reporting, financial reports, and workforce planning in an integrated workspace
- Team trained in 2 days on platform features and tools
- Anaplan Connect: ETL tool to load data from external systems
Results at a Glance
- Increased collaboration across departments with Cloud based solution
- 100% business self-service where users, not IT or consultants, manage development
- Easily able to expand toolset to coincide with growth of company and market