Astellas Pharma, a top 15 global pharmaceutical company, streamlines its global finance processes with Anaplan.

David Naccarato, Astella’s Senior Director of Finance, Budget, and Control for Medical and Development, describes how Anaplan is used across Astellas for planning and consolidation.

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We implemented Anaplan to globalize our finance across to Europe, U.S. and Japan. The pharma industry has a couple of unique characteristics relative to most other industries. You are doing clinical trial projects that can last upwards of 10 years, and so you have to budget both the lifetime of the clinical trial as well as your annual fiscal budget.

So the corporation cares a lot about how much you spend per year, and the project team that’s executing the clinical trial cares about what you spend on a lifetime basis for that trial. Ninety percent of clinical trials fail before they get to market so it actually presents some challenges because from a corporate standpoint, you are using statistics to basically say that this is how much we think the portfolio is going to cost.

We use Anaplan in a couple of different ways. Right now, we use it as a consolidation tool since we have a lot of global systems. Each local region has their favorite tool. We are the first global group for our company, so we have a different perspective on where we need to pull all that information together—we need to make it visible to our senior executives, and those local regional tools are really expensive to implement across such a large span.

Anaplan is flexible and allows us really to grow over time. We started out using it as a consolidator, and now we have rolled out different planning modules so we can globally plan. Our executives can now see all of that information instantaneously. It used to take four months to pull everything together, and by the time they got the data, it was really outdated and it wasn’t much use to them.

The next real evolution of what we are doing with Anaplan is to start using it as a data warehouse, a data integrator where we are pulling off our operational financial data, resource data, and make a complete picture of what our resources are for the company, with the goal of really making better investment decisions with our money and our resources. What adds a lot of value to the company is when we can go in and say, you know what, this study, this project is behind schedule. And if we make a $20 million investment, does that then help us beat the competition and get to market quicker, and therefore get the patients get better faster? And will the company make more money because they are in first number position?

We also started to look at building out Anaplan not as a consolidation tool, but as an actual real global planning tool, and so that really started to allow us to look at what we needed to see and be able to provide the information for all levels of the business to make the right decisions about resource allocation, about investment decisions, where they were going to spend the money, those kinds of things.

The benefits have been really marked. I mean they are really obvious. In our biggest unit, we have cut a month out of our planning cycle. The other piece is that the individual analysts on our finance team spend a lot of time pulling together reports and those kinds of things, and by replacing them with Anaplan, we increase both the level of accuracy and validation, as well as make them more useful because they are not doing close-consolidation reporting. They are actually able to do analysis and interventions, and make those investment decisions that we are asking to partner with the business.

The visibility to be able to look parallel across the whole portfolio has been really incredible. What Anaplan has actually allowed is instantaneous feedback and visibility by all levels. When they were demonstrating some of the predictive analytics, we wanted to take a look at “what if we make the assumption at these two paths—what is the Monte Carlo Simulation to say okay, what’s the chance that we are going to end at what place?” Using that information from predictive analytics, it really helped us to be able to make the argument that the company had really some additional investment that was likely to be made. So when you talk about Anaplan on predictive analytics and giving that power of being able to forecast and being able to do scenarios, that really resonates with our team because that’s where we are trying to go.

There is a huge difference when you are trying to compete locally—you have some local competitive advantages. But on a global stage, those competitive advantages are eroding and you are trying to compete with all of big pharma and you have to be faster with them, or agile, be able to manage that change—and from a investment decision standpoint, that’s what Anaplan allows us to do.

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