ServiceSource aligns workforce and finance plans with customer needs
Prior to implementing the Anaplan platform in late 2014, delivering on that promise required extensive manual effort. The FP&A team at ServiceSource spent too much time managing data in disparate sources, only to hope and pray that the numbers were right. Without the flexibility to adapt quickly to market changes, ServiceSource couldn’t determine where its organizational health truly stood, or effectively plan for the future.
The company needed a way to unify two core processes: workforce planning and traditional FP&A. Although other FP&A solutions could deliver basic planning and budgeting, these prescriptive products couldn’t cater to the workforce complexities of ServiceSource’s managed services business. Because of this, the siloed, prescriptive tools couldn’t support what ServiceSource wanted to do: bringing together two distinctly different planning scenarios on a single platform. Anaplan met this vision.
Before Anaplan, ServiceSource’s FP&A team spent 80 percent of its time processing numbers in spreadsheets. Now, they spend that time providing analytics and insights back to the business. With Anaplan, ServiceSource shifted the conversation away from generating and reconciling reports and toward analyzing data. With a detailed, real-time view into the business’ financial details, the company can make better-informed business decisions.
ServiceSource loved Anaplan’s platform approach, including its ability to scale. With Anaplan, the team got a rapid implementation that scaled up quickly and integrated all of its data in a central place. Ultimately, what set Anaplan apart was that it enabled ServiceSource’s finance team to manage its own destiny within the organization and become a strategic part of the business conversation.
ML: We help our customers manage recurring revenue in their renewals both through an outsourced managed-service business where we run call centers around the world, and also through software that we sell and deploy on behalf of our customers.
AN: Frankly, this is our third system implementation in the financial planning and budgeting space. We were looking for something that had the real flexibility of Excel®–a balance between the flexibility and rigidity of other systems we had, like Workday, in terms of financial controls, and also the ability to really bridge the two together and have the two co-exist from both rigidity and a process perspective.
ML: I like to joke that we wanted to put the A back in the FP&A, put the analysis back in FP&A-we needed the system and tool to do the basic blocking and tackling so we could deal with it and help the business really understand the “so what?” and what to do next.
ML: The reality is that we are running two different businesses with their own unique requirements and nuances, and so we were looking for a platform where we could have the flexibility to build what fits us but also a platform that would drive some of the prescriptive nature. Anaplan being a platform allow us to do both.
AN: Anaplan implementation was all about listening to our needs as a customer. We came in with history of a few failed implementations, and we were honestly gun shy, and that was frankly in the business, in IT, in finance. It really came down to the flexibility that the sales team brought us in terms of starting out with the pilot and then listening to us frankly in the beginning of the process, rather than prescribing a solution to us. That was pretty important to us.
RC: In terms of deployment, I think Anaplan is a fantastic tool. I’ve worked in these systems before, I’ve never been able to bring up the system this fast and this quickly, to this scale. I think it was incredible. It was weeks instead of months.
AN: It changes the way we work in terms of how we produce our reports, how we look at our numbers, and really changes the conversation.
ML: We really automated the entry and consolidation of the forecasting and the planning in the integration of the reporting out of our financial system, so we have really been able to be better business partners to our business leaders and help to drive the insight and the analytics to drive the business forward.
AN: The real measure of that impact is how we move that conversation from generating reports, reconciling reports, reconciling data, and analyzing data; this is not just in finance, this is across our field managers, our IT.
ML: I look at my expectations as a two-fold. Number one, my team is spending more time on the value-added FP&A and providing the analytic support to our business partners. Number two, we are doing it in a way that’s providing value-add to the business. We had our business leaders tell us that they love Anaplan and they love the information they are getting at Anaplan and the visibility they are getting into their business; all of that’s empowered by Anaplan. We could not provide that when we were in Excel.
RC: It’s the tool you need to take your data and get up to scale very quickly and easily. And have the company manage their own destiny.
I’m Mike Lemberg. I’m the Vice President of Finance and Investor Relations at ServiceSource. ServiceSource provides revenue lifecycle management solutions for other technology companies.
We use Anaplan in two distinct ways, and we bring those together in a corporate consolidation model. If you think about our business, we have 3,000 employees worldwide. Twenty-five hundred (2500) of those are in our managed service or revenue service centers around the world. We use Anaplan to plan, forecast, manage, and provide analytics and insights on that side of the business. We look at how we are delivering outcomes on behalf of our customers. We look at how we’re deploying our talented employees against our customer engagements, and then ultimately, the results that we’re delivering to our customers, and then the financials that we deliver back to ServiceSource.
We also use it for our other side of the business, which is about 500 employees that we deploy across RRD, SG&A, and professional services organizations, and we’re using it for budgeting, planning, forecasting-more of the prescriptive FP&A side. We are managing our workforce, our people. We are adding people, we’re transferring them, we’re promoting them, and then we’re also managing the other expense forecasting. We bring those together into a consolidation model so we can manage the consolidated business on a look-for-budgeting/forecasting basis.
When I joined the company, we were really living in the old world called Excel. [ServiceSource] was dabbling with a couple of planning tools and partners, and I had the opportunity to try and figure out which one of those tools and partners met our vision about what we wanted to develop and deliver. We quickly ascertained and determined that Anaplan was the right tool for us. The platform technology that we get out of Anaplan lets us build a custom model for that managed service-that’s 25 people that we deploy in the centers-but it also allows us to build a more prescriptive model and also easily bring those two worlds together.
We’ve got relatively complex revenue arrangements with our customers. We are predominantly a pay-for-performance company. The better we do, the better the outcomes we deliver on behalf of our customers. It changes the economics and the revenues that we deliver for our customers, and then we have to figure out how we’re going to deploy those 2,500 people across those customers to deliver those outcomes.
You really can’t do that on a prescriptive FP&A-manage head count, transfer, promote, terminate. We go in and look at what roles they are doing, what centers they are located in, what job families and job levels they are doing. We have a very complex model about how we deploy those individuals against the customer engagements to make sure that we were driving outcomes on behalf of our customers, but then also effectively managing the profitability and the results that are then delivered back to the customer.
We love the platform technology that Anaplan delivers to us, but with that platform technology, you want to make sure that you’re building and designing something that can scale and is also supportable. Anaplan now houses a lot of information that we use in various parts of the business. If you think about what we’re going to start exploring, it’s how we leverage what’s already in Anaplan that neatly adds additional business use cases to what we’ve built. One of them we’re considering is inside sales compensation. All of that data that we bring in for production and bookings that we’re delivering to our customers and revenue, that we’re delivering to our company, all those things drive our variable comp plans.
We’ve taken our FP&A team from spending 80 percent of their time processing numbers through Excel (with a hope and a prayer that those numbers are right) to where the system drives a lot of that. They are spending 80 percent of their time providing analytics and insights back to the business.
We are now providing very detailed regular financial information to our partners, who are the ones ultimately responsible for driving the business results. With that transparency, we were able to empower them to make better decisions, and you can also hold them accountable for driving to the results. It’s really hard to hold folks accountable when you keep the numbers hidden from them.
We’ve increased the productivity of our employees in our centers by five percent in just over the last year and we’ve also been able to drive our operating expense down by 15 percent.
They’ve (employees) really become, in a lot of ways, orchestrators of outcomes on a very detailed account-by-account level through providing the transparency, but then adding the analytics and insights on top of it. We’re seeing them thinking about the business in many additional dimensions, compared to before. They are thinking about first and foremost the customer outcomes, but they are also thinking about how that translates back to what we’re trying to deliver for our company, and ultimately our shareholders.
When we think about Anaplan’s platform, we have the ability to really build into Anaplan the analytics and insights into what drives the results or the outcomes for our customers, and results for our business, and do a very detailed assessment and understanding on what that means for ServiceSource and what it means for our customers. Having the flexibility to add to our DNA, our analytic understanding, and do it quickly and rapidly, and integrate it with the rest of the business gives us the tools to not only understand where we are today, but to plan for the future.