KinderCare Education’s FP&A team is no longer burdened by annual budgeting and planning.

Jessica Maki, Senior Director of FP&A, discusses how KinderCare Education has achieved connected and collaborative planning by consolidating budgeting, price modeling, and labor scheduling in one central platform.

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My name’s Jessica Maki. I’m the Senior Director of FP&A at KinderCare Education.

KinderCare is the nation’s leading provider of early childhood education and care across the U.S. We care for 158,000 children every single day.

I oversee the corporate FP&A department. We had just gotten out of a very tough budgeting season. We had several issues with our Excel model that we were using; it was essentially a black box that we would update with assumptions, and we never were certain what results we were going to get out of it. Updating models took a significant amount of time, it was a complete drain on our team, and we’d be up until one in the morning in the office trying to put the plan together—and we’d still end up missing deadlines.

The other thing that I think really led the need for a change was that we needed our field leaders to believe in their plan. They had no visibility to be able to have any input. When we met Anaplan, it was just an “awe” moment. Our team, from VP to analyst, came forward and said, “Anaplan is the right solution for us; we can do so much more with this tool than just budgeting.”

Since completing Anaplan for an annual budgeting platform, we’ve also expanded use cases into price modeling, and we’ve just kicked off labor scheduling. These are, I think, the building blocks to getting us to connected planning—having all of these different models on the same system.

The flexibility of the tool is just such a beautiful thing. [We are able] to have three lines of business on the tool, [all with] different methodologies and assumptions for how we develop their plans. [And] the speed of Anaplan is just amazing—we can go in and update an assumption, and within seconds, you have your consolidated results. So having the ability to have instant results is just phenomenal.

We’re also looking at how can we take better information and make good decisions. Because at the end of the day, we want our operators focusing on what they do best: educating children, supporting families.

For the team, planning just became less of an event; people actually got their lives back October to December. I wasn’t going home at night putting my kids to bed and then coming back into the office to work on planning. I was going home at a reasonable hour along with my coworkers. And just the ability to, at the end of the day, enjoy working with each other and feel that camaraderie of accomplishing something very meaningful—it was just a great feeling overall for the team.

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