“Plans are nothing, Planning is everything”. Dwight D. Eisenhower.
This is especially true with the constant disruption in the business scenario due to both external factors and technology disruptions. However perfect the plan might be, the planning needs to be agile to cater to different scenarios such that processes can be streamlined. Decision-makers of any organization need data from all the divisions of the organization like Sales, Marketing, Finance, IT, HR, Operations, and support. Only then can the decisions be truly called “Data-driven”.
Why is Anaplan required?
Before we discuss what Anaplan is, it is important to know the benefit Anaplan provides. Think of an organization’s decision-making process. All the divisions would be involved, and two important decisions are Strategy and Execution. For simplicity, look at the image below:
Each division would have its own disparate data sources like CRM for Sales and Marketing, Spreadsheets or Supply Chain Reports for Operations, HRMS data for HR, Asset Management System or AMS data for IT, and ERP data for Finance. Each of the divisions would operate in a siloed data model approach making the whole decision-making process disconnected. It is this “Messy Middle” – the gaps in between the discrete data sources, that Anaplan looks to solve.
What is Anaplan?
Now that you have understood what Anaplan solves, it is easy to understand what it is. Simply put, it is a unique software with a connected planning approach, which utilizes proprietary Hyperblock™ technology to connect dynamically across various divisions. Its approach, like multi-dimensionality, agility, and dynamic user experience, helps the decision-makers and the users view the organization in a holistic manner.
For the sake of simplicity, if you normally work with spreadsheets then the data would be in the form of a 2D matrix, with Anaplan you can view the data in 3 Dimensions along with multiple planning scenarios.
Look at the picture below to understand what we mean by a Connected Planning approach.
5 Advantages of using Anaplan:
- Connected Planning
Start making data-driven decisions by connecting People – Data – Plans. Not only these but also the Sales, Marketing, Operations, IT, HR, and Finance to work with a holistic organizational view. With Anaplan you can have the flexibility and the agility to take Bottom-up or Top-down decision-making.
- Scenario Planning
Normally how would you check different scenarios? Using excel? The key limitation of it is that you are unable to view various scenarios side by side (at least without complex Macros) and can test limited parameters. With Anaplan, you can start Scenario planning side by side for any number of situations to find the optimal resource planning.
- End-user experience
Anaplan has the ability to let the end-user give inputs to the data which can change the entire module. With the power of control, the end-user can enter the required and relevant data for planning that might not have been included in the input calculations. Also, the user can see how the information affects the various scenarios on a real-time basis.
- Forecasting techniques
The amount of advantage of inbuilding forecasting techniques in the planning models is humungous. Think about it. Business users (in the absence of Anaplan) need Data Analysts or Data Scientists to perform forecasting, which many organizations lack or don’t have the capability to integrate. Anaplan has 30 Forecast Methods including Simple Linear Regression, Simple Exponential Smoothening, Multiplicative Decomposition, Holt-Winters, and Croston’s Intermittent Demand. So, instead of investing in multiple resources for analysis and planning, get the one-stop solution for the entire organization planning.
- Connect with Dashboards
In addition to planning and forecasting, you can view your data within Anaplan. Anaplan not only provides connectors with the Top leaders of Business Intelligence like Power BI, Tableau, and Qlik; but also has its own inbuilt dashboards provision. With these features, you can not only connect to multiple models, have ease of connection across various devices like Desktop, Mobile, and Tablet.
What we have spoken here is just the tip of the iceberg. If you are curious about Anaplan Services or want Anaplan Consulting, contact Polestar. Or you can read more about how Anaplan can be used for Sales planning or Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A) for various industries and services.
5 Tips for using Anaplan Dashboards
Dashboards have become the most used tool for data storytelling and have become a hot topic for using any Visualization or Business Intelligence tools. Anaplan also has the resources to make in-built dashboards. One of the key differences is that you can input data in the dashboards such that the models can have scenario-based planning even with the input of the end-user.
But whatever the platform might be making dashboards, can be unclear, overwhelming, and confusing at times. So, here are our top 5 tips for making the best dashboards.
1. Know your audience
What is the purpose of making the dashboard? Is it to present Sales data or the Financial performance of the company or the turnover time? And who are you presenting the data to? These two questions are important to understand before you start making the dashboards.
So before finalizing the dashboard, consult the end-user and take their views into account. User adoption has always been the goal for any visual representation.
2. Ease of navigation
Always provide users the data in the key priority areas, which is normally the top row in a dashboard. Therefore provide the KPIs and interactive elements on the top row along with details of the company on the top row. For example, see the dashboard below:
It shows the interactive elements and KPIs and most relevant graphs at the top and additional information below.
3. Provide instructions
Sometimes a dashboard, may not be as intuitive as you think it might be. So having a set of instructions can provide ease of understanding of the dashboard for the user. In the text area, define the purpose of the dashboard and how it should be used or create section headers and add notes or add descriptions to the dashboards (choose what would be comfortable with you and your user)
4. Use templates & Maintain Logical order
Use Global grid setting for using pre-selected Grid styles with Classic features. Maintaining a logical order in your modules for lists and actions will enable the user with an efficient and intuitive experience while navigating the model.
5. Train users
While implementing Anaplan, training is vital. Training before the solution is delivered will ensure that the users and the team have a good foundation of the platform and can generate the maximum ROI. Check out Anaplan training modules in case you are in doubt. The training would help the users to have a clear view of what is possible.
In conclusion, Anaplan as software can be used as a connected planning software for all the divisions of the enterprise, which would not only in planning but also gathering data, performing calculations and analysis as well as a visual representation of the same with the help of dashboards.
And at Polestar Services, we take pride in being Anaplan Partner of the Year. With Anaplan and our industry and technology expertise, we provide Anaplan services, support, and Consulting.