By building an ecosystem around a sharing platform, California-based Anaplan is aiming to revolutionise the way strategic financial planners do their work, enabling them to collaborate.

Anaplan Brings Collaborative Ethos to Business Planning

Adapting supply to demand in near real time is the Holy Grail of practically every production-based industry. In real life however this goal is hard to attain and the risk of overproduction – entailing an increase in the cost of stock – remains ever-present. Starting from this observation, the Californian company set out to find a solution by making flexibility, transversal communication and collaborative working central features of the entire process.

Anaplan (a contraction of ‘Analytics’ and ‘Planning’), which was founded in 2006, specialises in strategic planning services. The firm already provides a Cloud-based solution for the sales, finance, and human resources fields. The basic mission is to help organisations cover their planning needs. Then, the better to do so, in November last year Anaplan launched its own online store/community for sharing financial planning apps, the Anaplan App Hub. The ‘Hub’ enables Anaplan’s customers and partners to develop, share and deploy planning apps in the three key areas. ‟We currently have some 50 apps available in our hub,” Folia Grace, Anaplan’s Vice President for Product Marketing told L’Atelier. In addition the firm has set up a number of R&D centres, one of which has just opened its doors in Paris.

Cloud-based solutions to improve financial planning

             The Anaplan interface: the platform is helping to revolutionise strategic planning tasks

Anaplan is a truly open platform, which means that the apps made available are developed either by Anaplan or the company’s partners and customers. The apps are free of charge for customers who already have a licence. Partners manage pricing and licences for their own applications. “This sharing of intellectual property marks a profound change in the way planning tools are developed and used,” claims Frenchman Fredéric Laluyaux, who was brought on board as CEO in July 2012. Meanwhile, "we’ll continue to enrich our existing applications with new functionality and, in collaboration with our customers and partners, we also intend to deliver hundreds of apps to solve the planning problems that are specific to manufacturing. We want to help companies change the way they manage their planning tasks so as to achieve better results,” underlines Folia Grace.

Anaplan has high ambitions, and does not intend to limit itself to the three traditional areas it started out with. In mid-March it announced the launch of a suite of apps for supply chain planning. True to the spirit of its sharing philosophy, Anaplan developed the new apps after examining the way its customers were going about things. "Clients of ours have built customised apps for supply chain planning and have seen the benefits of doing so. And when we looked at how some firms in the same sector were attempting to resolve their issues, we found that they were still using ad hoc solutions or simple spreadsheets. So there was huge scope to offer them a better, end-to-end, solution,” Folia Grace explained.

Supply chain planning and task visualisation

A better solution means greater agility, more flexibility, and above all doing things faster. The new suite of apps enables those involved in supply chain planning to ‟reduce the time required to obtain the information needed to take decisions on supply and demand,” stresses Folia Grace. Indeed sales people can update their sales calculations directly, which means ‟greater flexibility when forecasting demand,” she added.

Moreover, if the desire to make these collaborative planning tools available to customers were not enough, Anaplan has decided to set up a new R&D centre in Paris, focussing on technologies in this area, joining those already up and running in York (UK) Singapore and San Francisco.

By Romain Chapron