Anaplan Research Paper Reveals Asia’s CFOs Demand for a More Systematic, Flexible Forecasting & Planning Solution

Respondents want driver-based planning, what-if scenarios, and top-down/bottom-up planning

Singapore – 28 October 2013 – Almost six in ten companies still rely on spreadsheets for their forecasting and planning, and Finance executives say this approach falls short in several key areas. Only 2% use a modern, cloud-based planning solution. These insights were revealed in an Anaplan research paper titled “Financial Planning & Forecasting: Do Asia’s CFOs See the Complete Picture?”.

The research paper details the results of a recent survey with 120 CFOs, finance directors, controllers and other senior executives from Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Malaysia, India and other countries. The survey aimed to identify behaviors and level of satisfaction with the current forecasting and modeling systems, with the end goal of helping companies not only benchmark their planning and forecasting but also spark ideas about how to enhance these processes. Organisations with an annual global sales turnover of more than US$500 million participated in the survey.

When respondents were asked what they would change about their current approach to forecasting and planning, they indicated a desire to make the process system-based rather than spreadsheet-based (16%), to integrate accounting, ERP, sales and other systems (16%), and to connect to business users outside of finance via the planning, forecasting and modelling system (15%).

The survey also found that the levels of satisfaction with accuracy and timeliness are higher for those companies that depend less on Excel for their planning. On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being very satisfied, respondents who utilize Excel in 90% of their planning, forecasting and modeling only give a rating of 3.0 for accuracy; those who use Excel for 50% of the process rated 3.2 and those who only deployed Excel sparingly (20% or less than 20%) showed a higher satisfaction rating of 3.4. The same trend is spotted in ratings on timeliness.

“In today’s business environment, spreadsheet-based forecasting and planning is no longer sufficient. Companies need to run scenarios on the fly for complex variables, disruption and uncertainty” said Samir Neji, Managing Director of Anaplan Asia in response to the results. “From creating dynamic scenarios to running real-time reports, data can be leveraged for a competitive advantage, but only with the right tools.”

When asked about their reasons for dissatisfaction with accuracy, 59% attributed it to the inability to do what-if scenarios and detailed integrated and operational planning; another 53% pointed to significant deviations in actual outcomes from the forecast. On timeliness, 52% cited the inability to do driver-based planning and what-if scenarios as major reasons for missed planning deadlines. Another 52% pointed to the excessive time spent reconciling top-down and bottom-up plans; interestingly, this was also one of the top reasons for dissatisfaction around ease of use at 55%.

“Immediacy and accuracy are core elements that businesses need for their forecasting and planning,” commented Frederic Laluyaux, CEO of Anaplan, “Companies continue to look for the flexibility and functionality to tell a consistent story across the enterprise. Increasingly, the most successful companies are ones that are first to embrace disruptive technologies that overcome the flaws of established processes.”

About Anaplan

Anaplan is disrupting the world of business modeling and planning. We built our platform from the ground up to empower companies to plan, collaborate, execute and react—in real time. Stay ahead of critical business events, rapidly model potential impacts and course correct on the fly. With Anaplan’s cloud-based platform, you can continuously align your people, plans and spend to your market opportunities. Anaplan is a privately held company, headquartered in San Francisco, CA with global offices on four continents. To learn more, visit anaplan.com. Join us on twitter: @anaplan