John Story, Land Valuation Manager, Story Homes

Story Homes is a rapidly growing luxury home builder based in the north of England. To accommodate this growth, Story Homes needed a solution that was flexible, scalable, and would allow for collaboration in real-time. In this video, hear John Story, Land Valuation Manager at Story Homes, explain how Anaplan enabled Story Homes to gain clarity and confidence in their data.

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My name is John Story, Land Valuation Manager for Story Homes.

Story Homes is a luxury house builder, based in the north of England. We started of course a small company a few years ago but are quite quickly growing. We have seen over 60% growth each year for the past three years and anticipate that to continue.

Prior to Anaplan, our planning process was quite familiar story I think, very based in Excel, lots of spreadsheets, nothing feeding into each other, everything in silos. And there was a lot of disparity, a lot of things didn’t agree with each other, people had different ideas of what the truth was, when a site would start, how many units were on a site, what the revenues were going to be for that site.

It was very hard to set concrete targets for people. We would always get to the year end and go “oh it’s okay that you missed that target because actually this didn’t actually turn out the way we thought it was going to turn out.” So we couldn’t use financial targets and bonus systems very well.

We were specifically looking for something that was reliable that we could have everything altogether in one place, that we could do rather than — this is quite specific to the industry, rather than it being all site-based, that we could go right down to the specific plots, the specific housing plots and have information from them and then it all built up from that base level so that we would have really reliable information that would flow to a full company business plan.

The product is quite widely used within the housing industry and we had a new financial director come from another housing company and he had had experience of using that, and it came very highly recommended from him. We run through a proof of concept and we were very impressed with the product.

The first part of our implementation was quite a small team of a finance team, building business plans and rolling out, whereas now we are getting requests from other parts of the company because they want the information, so we have rolled out to maybe 20 or 30 users within the company. We find that we don’t even need any external training, it’s a sit down, a 10 minute, you introduce them to the system, it’s very familiar, it’s very intuitive. They can pick it up; they play with it.

Anaplan has been used for about 18 months now within the company. Initially, it was a model to manage to our current site and our current sales. All of our specific housing plots were put into model and we managed and tracked all the sales and the build time and all the information we needed on that first, and that helped to build our business plans. A more recent app that we have developed is a land valuation module and that drives our long term forecast as well.

How Anaplan has changed our team and the land team in particular, they have a lot of information that they never had before, so that they are really empowered to go and challenge other people within the company and they are also empowered to talk to landowners and really be knowledgeable about what our cost will be.

Anaplan has really enabled us to grow as we have because it’s so scalable. As we have grown and added thousands more plots and hundreds more sites, Anaplan deal with this because it’s such a huge database that we can build in it, we can add sites and plots and we can start off doing 150 plots and that’s quite a small scale but it deals with it just as quickly if it does 10,000 plots, and it has no issues with it, which I don’t know how to say for any other system that we have used.

The old system having Excel spreadsheets would never have kept up with what we were doing and it also wouldn’t have provided the information that we needed to the banks for our lending requirements.

Because we now know so much more about our sites and our costs, we can bid much more aggressively for land when we are trying to buy it. We have a new app within our system that is a land valuation app that’s using a lot of our live information. It was built a couple of months ago and around a month ago we won our first land bid using this tool. So if you were to quantify the profit just getting hold of one bit of land, it more than pays for itself.

Anaplan has enabled Story Homes to learn things about our company that we never knew.