Connected Planning helps Unum discover the power of acting as one
Increasingly, value isn’t driven by knowing how things work. It’s driven by knowing how things work together.”
— Jack McGarry,
Insurance provider Unum is in the business of helping people through the difficult times in their lives. This isn’t just a job for the company’s 9,400 employees; Group CFO Jack McGarry calls this the “high social purpose” of the 170-year-old Fortune 500 company. Unum’s commitment to serve its 36 million customers requires constant, continuous improvement from the finance team. “We’ve always been forced to think about being competitive and providing the best value,” explains CFO for US Operations Steve Mitchell. “So we think a lot about how we can have a better process, how we can have a better set of tools.”
The Anaplan platform has been one of Unum’s key finance tools since 2016, and it has become a catalyst for dramatic process change and improvement. Anaplan was first deployed at Unum to help with financial consolidations, and the company soon expanded its use to Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A) and reporting. Guided by an Anaplan Center of Excellence within the finance team, Unum is now deploying expense budgeting and reporting, investment portfolio planning and analysis, and capital models on Anaplan.
Unum’s environment is the very definition of Connected Planning: people joined together with data and plans to accelerate business value. The immediate value comes from greater efficiency; Mitchell, a hands-on Anaplan user, says the Anaplan platform gives a CFO like him the insight to ask better-informed questions. “I find it a very efficient way to go in and look at either the aggregate for the businesses that I’m involved with, or decompose it into specific businesses.” An important byproduct: saved time can be applied to high-value tasks such as data analysis.
And in the long run, Anaplan is serving as a platform for business transformation. Many business processes at Unum that formerly required finance intervention or assistance (such as reviewing expenses against budgets) are now self-service operations, and ad-hoc questions can be answered without the finance team’s help about 80 percent of the time.
There’s more to come. “We have really smart people discovering new connections and how we should respond to them as a company,” McGarry says—responses that will enable Unum to serve its customers even better in their time of need.
Jack McGarry, Group CFO, Unum: One of the great pieces about working at Unum is we really do have a high social purpose. I mean, we protect people when they are at their most desperate, people who have lost their jobs or can’t work because of accident or illness.
Our goals are to make it simple to deal with us, to be empathetic and support people, as well as give them the financial support to get through what, oftentimes, is the most difficult points in their lives.
Text: Unum insures 36 million people worldwide and pays nearly $7 billion in benefits annually.
McGarry: The insurance industry has always been a moving industry. You know, there are always new products coming onboard, there’s new methods of distribution, there’s new methods of enrollment, there’s new methods of servicing.
Steve Mitchell, CFO for U.S. Operations: We’ve always been forced to think about being competitive and providing the best value, so we think a lot about how can we have a better process, how can we have a better set of tools.
McGarry: The investment we’ve made in Anaplan, by consolidating our tools, has allowed us to be more efficient. That’s a great benefit to a finance organization because what that does is free time to really analyze what’s going on. We have really smart people discovering new connections and how we should respond to them as a company.
Mitchell: I use Anaplan and go in and see what’s the status there. I find it a very efficient way to go in and look at, either aggregate for the businesses that I’m involved with, or decompose it into specific businesses. It makes my team more efficient because I don’t have to ask them to gather that for me, and hopefully it makes me more efficient because I can ask better-informed questions.
McGarry: The most important thing that I do is to prepare the future of this organization. That means making sure that we have the right people, making sure that they get the breadth of exposure to the organization.
Mitchell: So having a modern toolset like Anaplan, where they can do so much with it and change roles without having to learn a whole new technical platform: Really important, and it takes away a barrier to helping folks with that development.
McGarry: Anaplan has been a great leap forward for us. Increasingly, the value isn’t driven by knowing how things work. It’s driven by knowing how things work together.