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Anaplan

What is Anaplan?

Cloud-based planning and performance management platform for use across financial and various operational business departments with complementary analytics functionality. Anaplan and its global partner ecosystem offer additional industry-specific prebuilt solutions across a number of verticals.

BI, Analytics & CPM
● Reporting / Dashboards
● Analysis
– Advanced Analytics
●● Planning
– Financial Consolidation

= Function covered, ●● = Functional focus

= Function covered
●●
= Functional focus

About Anaplan

The information in this section has been provided by the vendor of Anaplan.

Self-description of the vendor

No vendor self-description available
References
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Partners
No data available

Anaplan BARC Review & Rating

This section contains our independent analyst views on Anaplan.

Provider and product description

Anaplan is a cloud-native enterprise software vendor headquartered in Miami, Florida, USA. The company currently employs more than 2,000 people worldwide. Several major investors have financed Anaplan’s growth and global expansion. In 2022, Anaplan was acquired by Thoma Bravo, a leading software investment firm, for approximately $10.4 billion.

The company’s name is a combination of analytics and planning. The Anaplan platform was officially released in 2008 and represents a new generation of planning, modeling, and forecasting and performance management solutions developed with state-of-the-art technologies on a modern software architecture. Anaplan is a purely cloud-based platform powered by a proprietary in-memory data processing engine (patented Hyperblock technology). The company pioneered the concept of enterprise-wide connected planning, and its low-code technology connects people, plans, systems and data to provide collaboration and visibility into the business to improve decision-making.

Anaplan targets business leaders, as well as corporate finance and operational business departments to connect strategic, financial and operational plans on a single platform and unified codebase to support multiple use cases across finance, sales and marketing, supply chain, HR and workforce in large enterprises and groups worldwide. In addition to horizontal use cases, Anaplan and its global partner ecosystem offer industry-specific prebuilt solutions across a number of verticals such as consumer and retail, financial and business services, manufacturing and life sciences, technology, media and telecommunications. These applications are built and running on the Anaplan platform and can be adapted to customer-specific requirements. In 2022, Anaplan acquired the application division of its partner Vuealta, extending its focus on supply chain planning with purpose-built applications for demand, supply, inventory, and sales and operations planning / integrated business planning (S&OP/IBP). Adding to its suite of out-of-the box applications, the company also released its first sales planning application late last year: Anaplan for Territory and Quota Planning.

According to Anaplan, it has more than 2,200 customers worldwide. Implementations range from double-digit to several thousand users per installation. To sell and particularly to implement Anaplan, the vendor has an expansive global partner ecosystem of more than 200 consulting and implementation partners including technology partners with supplementary technical capabilities. The company and its partners adhere to a common agile implementation method known as the Anaplan Way, which emphasizes transparency throughout each implementation phase to foster effective deployment and adoption.

Anaplan provides flexible functionality for centralized top-down as well as decentralized bottom-up planning, including workflow support and collaboration capabilities. With its ‘connected planning’ platform, customers can create various planning models on different aggregation levels (strategic, financial and operational planning) for an integrated enterprise planning approach. The vendor’s classic Hyperblock and new Polaris calculation engines support scalable, in-memory data processing for detailed planning models. As larger and more granular data sets are required for sound planning and informed decision-making, Anaplan is investing heavily in its new, more memory-efficient calculation engine Polaris as well as in its data management system and intelligent capabilities.

Strengths and challenges of Anaplan

BARC’s viewpoint on the product’s strengths and challenges.

Strengths
  • Anaplan is a modern cloud-based connected planning and performance management platform for use across financial and various operational business departments with complementary analytics functionality. It comes highly recommended by customers.
  • Flexibility for a wide variety of industry agnostic planning approaches (centralized top-down, decentralized bottom-up) and planning topics (strategic, financial, operational planning with support for various verticals).
  • Anaplan Predictive Insights offers integrated predictive algorithms and advanced analytics functions leveraging ML, AI and optimization techniques. Furthermore, Anaplan PlanIQ delivers intelligent forecasting capabilities with integrated AI and ML as a managed service. With PlanIQ, customers can leverage multiple intelligence techniques such as native predictive capabilities based on internal and external data as well as integrations with third-party ML engines of choice (e.g., Amazon Forecast). In 2024, Anaplan expects to enhance its intelligence offering with an AI-based conversational chat functionality that enables natural language queries.
  • Anaplan and its global partner ecosystem offer additional industry-specific prebuilt solutions across a number of verticals such as consumer and retail, financial and business services, manufacturing and life sciences, technology, media and telecommunications. These applications are built and running on the Anaplan platform and can be adapted to customer-specific requirements.
Challenges
  • Cloud-only – the product is purely cloud-based and not available on premises. Web access is essential to use the product (except for offline planning in the Excel add-in).
  • Anaplan provides its own data integration options at multiple levels, while third-party ETL tools are also used to connect to source systems (particularly when predefined data connections are required). Anaplan does offer connectors for industry-leading ETL/ESB tools, such as Informatica, Boomi, SnapLogic and MuleSoft. Additionally, platform capabilities can be extended using REST APIs, scripting and transactional APIs. Anaplan CloudWorks orchestrates bi-directional data integration with a variety of external cloud-based data and service providers and internal Anaplan models. However, customer feedback in The Planning Survey shows that neither Anaplan’s predefined data connectivity nor its data integration capabilities entirely satisfy customers. Within the next year, however, Anaplan expects to enhance its data integration and management system.
  • Anaplan is a comprehensive planning, budgeting and forecasting platform rather than a BI and analytics tool. This is confirmed by customer feedback. However, it does support functionality for OLAP analysis, screen-based, self-service dashboarding and formatted, pixel-perfect reporting, which are all continuously being expanded. Its native mobile app enables access to insights on the go. This is supplemented by prebuilt third-party analytics integrations with, for example, Tableau, Microsoft Power BI and Workiva to connect Anaplan data and models with specialist BI and analytics tools.
  • According to customer feedback in The Planning Survey, several customers consider Anaplan to be more expensive than competing offerings. ‘Rising costs’ is a problem reported by several Anaplan users.
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Anaplan User Reviews & Experiences

The information contained in this section is based on user feedback and actual experience with Anaplan.

The information and figures are largely drawn from BARC’s The BI & Analytics Survey, The Planning Survey, The Financial Consolidation Survey and The Data Management Survey. You can find out more about these surveys by clicking on the relevant links.

Summary of user review highlights from Anaplan

What users like about Anaplan and where the product scores best in a user comparison.

Why users buy Anaplan and what problems they have using it

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Full user reviews and KPI results for Anaplan

All key figures for Anaplan at a glance.

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Individual user reviews for Anaplan

Role
Consultant
Number of employees
Less than 100
Industry
IT
Source
Invited by the vendor, The Planning Survey 24, 04/2024
What do you like best?

What I like about it is its cloud based, all you need is a browser and internet connection and it's easy to use.

What do you like least/what could be improved?

Needs more technical expertise when dealing with data integration.

What key advice would you give to other companies looking to introduce/use the product?

Assess your build plan well and prioritize critical pain points.

How would you sum up your experience?

It is innovative and connected planning made easily.

Role
Project manager for planning from IT
Number of employees
Less than 100
Industry
IT
Source
Invited by the vendor, The Planning Survey 24, 04/2024
What do you like best?

Scalability - Anaplan is designed to handle large data sets and complex calculations, providing scalability for organizations with diverse planning needs. Security - Anaplan prioritizes data security and compliance, offering features such as role-based access control to manage permissions. User-friendly interface - The platform aims to empower business users, reducing the reliance on IT departments for ongoing maintenance.

What do you like least/what could be improved?

Limited Offline Access - Anaplan primarily operates in the cloud, and offline access is limited. Users who need to work on models without an internet connection may find this restriction inconvenient. Integration - While Anaplan is designed to integrate with various data sources, some users may encounter challenges when integrating with specific systems or databases. Ensuring a smooth integration requires additional skills, effort and support. Cost - Cost can be challenging for some smaller businesses.

What key advice would you give to other companies looking to introduce/use the product?

Clearly define pain points and objectives to be able to produce a more detailed user story.

How would you sum up your experience?

Anaplan is a cloud-based platform, which means users can access it from anywhere with an internet connection. The cloud infrastructure allows for scalability and flexibility, making it suitable for both small and large enterprises. Users can create models that reflect different aspects of their business, such as financials, sales, workforce and more.

Role
Project manager for planning from IT
Number of employees
100 - 2.500
Industry
Media
Source
Invited by the vendor, The Planning Survey 24, 04/2024
What do you like best?

The software is incredibly easy to set up and can be used for a wide range of use cases. It is easy to adapt and enhance use cases as the business changes.

What do you like least/what could be improved?

If models aren't managed well, performance can get slow. Some recent product developments are only available at an additional cost.

What key advice would you give to other companies looking to introduce/use the product?

When developing new use cases, it is really important to weigh up the advantages of including these new use cases in the same model (more seamless integration and data flows; only one set of lists and hierarchies to maintain) against the disadvantages (the model can become slow and unwieldy to manage). It is really easy to get excited about how quickly you can develop new use cases and functionality in Anaplan and just keep building out the system, but if this isn't managed well, you lose system performance and it can take a lot of time, effort and, potentially, cost to redevelop models.

How would you sum up your experience?

I have built Anaplan models for nearly 5 years and still love the system. It's incredibly easy to use and to maintain. End users find the system very intuitive and it's generally very quick to run, even with lots of users. It's definitely brought significant benefit and return on investment to each of the companies that I have worked with who have adopted Anaplan. I'd highly recommend it.

Role
Consultant
Number of employees
100 - 2.500
Industry
Consulting
Source
Invited by the vendor, The Planning Survey 24, 04/2024
What do you like best?

I like the fact it can drive the change in the planning, budgeting and forecasting processes along as supporting them technology-wise. It is a great trigger for revolution in the way the companies operate within their financial and controlling units.

What do you like least/what could be improved?

I was lacking a bit of native connectivity with external systems.

What key advice would you give to other companies looking to introduce/use the product?

Make sure to secure right amount of resources that can support you implementation since even tough Anaplan is very Excel like, it may be a bit tricky, if you want to do it right.

How would you sum up your experience?

It's a great tool that can drive your planning processes for the whole company and make them truly integrated.

Role
Consultant
Number of employees
100 - 2.500
Industry
Manufacturing
Source
BARC Panel, The Planning Survey 24, 04/2024
What do you like best?

Sehr mächtiges Werkzeug, aber Poweruser der Fachbereiche können ohne zusätzliche IT Ressourcen oder Externe die Modellierung und Integration vorantreiben. Sehr gute online Trainings und hilfreiche internationale Community.

What do you like least/what could be improved?

Mehrsprachigkeit der Modellierumgebung.

What key advice would you give to other companies looking to introduce/use the product?

Macht einen Prototypen oder Proof of Concept mit einem erfahrenen Integrationspartner.

How would you sum up your experience?

Nicht das günstigste Tool am Markt, aber die erzielten Verbesserungen und Einsparungen ergeben einen überzeugenden ROI.

Role
Project manager for planning from business department
Number of employees
100 - 2.500
Industry
Transportation and logistics
Source
BARC Panel, The Planning Survey 24, 04/2024
What do you like best?

Forecasting and graphs are very good.

What do you like least/what could be improved?

There isn't much help from vendor on building modules or integrating with BI tools like Tableau.

What key advice would you give to other companies looking to introduce/use the product?

Make sure you have someone on hand that knows Anaplan.

How would you sum up your experience?

Neutral

Role
IT employee
Number of employees
More than 2.500
Industry
Insurance
Source
Invited by the vendor, The Planning Survey 24, 04/2024
What do you like best?

The flexibility of the platform means it is conducive to a wide variety of use cases. The comparability between Excel functions enables models to be built by planner who have the expertise in business process without the need for deep technical knowledge.

What do you like least/what could be improved?

User access management can be challenging as there is not currently a mechanism to centrally administer access (requires building a model to support the process).

What key advice would you give to other companies looking to introduce/use the product?

Ensure you have internal resources working on the model build and are not solely reliant on external consultants. It is critical that teams who will be using the model understand the decision points in the build and appreciate the efforts to maintain the model going forward. Having subject matter experts working hand in hand with the model builders ensures that the user experience is optimal and the applications contemplate all required capabilities.

How would you sum up your experience?

I think it is a very powerful tool and allows for creativity in the model process. Once the initial learning curve is overcome, model building becomes very fun and will encourage users to think beyond just core requirements into the lens of untapped possibilities.

Role
Head of business department
Number of employees
More than 2.500
Industry
Manufacturing
Source
Invited by the vendor, The Planning Survey 24, 04/2024
What do you like best?

We have been working with Anaplan for 5 years and I like the fact it is a partnership, where we work together to achieve our companies’ goals. The platform is very flexible, which is why we have seen growth from 1 area and 150 users to 8 business areas and 2000 users.

What do you like least/what could be improved?

We have discussed the use of out of the box apps would be great for the areas that don't want to develop their own bit in Anaplan. This is now becoming more readily available in Anaplan.

What key advice would you give to other companies looking to introduce/use the product?

Anaplan's flexibility as a platform is a huge strength, but also a weakness. If you do not put the correct governance and controls in place, it can cause problems further down the line.

How would you sum up your experience?

Anaplan is the best planning vendor I have worked with, and having seen our growth alongside theirs over the last 5 years I am excited to see what the next 5 years has in store for our partnership!

Role
IT employee
Number of employees
More than 2.500
Industry
IT
Source
Invited by the vendor, The Planning Survey 24, 04/2024
What do you like best?

Good UX, easy modeling, good performance on large data volumes.

What do you like least/what could be improved?

Integrations could be easier, however, with CloudWorks things got better.

What key advice would you give to other companies looking to introduce/use the product?

Use a use case approach - have big picture in mind but built one use case at a time to deliver value quickly.

How would you sum up your experience?

It is a very good planning/analytical tool, that performs very well on large data volumes and offers good flexibility to address all kinds of use cases.

Role
Line of business employee
Number of employees
More than 2.500
Industry
Manufacturing
Source
Invited by the vendor, The Planning Survey 24, 04/2024
What do you like best?

Extremely flexible, any calculation can be designed into Anaplan models.

What do you like least/what could be improved?

It is fairly complex to build models in Anaplan, so specialist consulting company support is required for the first few years to ensure that the models are built correctly. Once model builders are trained within a business, they quickly become very busy building due to multiple requirements to improve/grow models.

What key advice would you give to other companies looking to introduce/use the product?

Have a clear final goal of what you want to achieve from your Anaplan model and expect this requirement to increase once you realize its full potential, but take small steps to steadily grow each model appropriately.

How would you sum up your experience?

It is a fantastically power tool for planning/forecasting.

Role
Project manager for planning from IT
Number of employees
More than 2.500
Industry
Insurance
Source
Invited by the vendor, The Planning Survey 24, 04/2024
What do you like best?

Anaplan is easy to use, has an intuitive user experience and you are able to build at scale. With proper leadership and executive sponsorship, enterprise level planning in the short to medium term is feasible in house.

What do you like least/what could be improved?

Product enhancements is typically slow or generally misses targets. Additionally, security management is a large pain point for our organization.

What key advice would you give to other companies looking to introduce/use the product?

It is critical to have executive sponsorship and to hire an internal expert in Anaplan to lead this transformation. You can easily build one model in 3 - 6 months internally or with a budget consultancy, scaling your Anaplan use past a couple small use cases is impossible without an internal COE.

How would you sum up your experience?

Great product, I have enjoyed building, training and advocating for it over the last several years.

Role
Project manager for planning from IT
Number of employees
More than 2.500
Industry
Social Media
Source
Invited by the vendor, The Planning Survey 24, 04/2024
What do you like best?

It can be deployed for almost all use cases required.

What do you like least/what could be improved?

Missing things like alignment formatting, lack of ability to see who is in logged into the model, bulk adding or removal of user admin settings and the ability control/limit what a user can see from Anaplan home screen.

What key advice would you give to other companies looking to introduce/use the product?

Make sure your processes are solid and documented. Have a plan to control development and updates.

How would you sum up your experience?

A great planning platform that is flexible and quick to deploy.

Role
IT Architect
Number of employees
More than 2.500
Industry
Fashion
Source
Invited by the vendor, The Planning Survey 24, 04/2024
What do you like best?

Flexibility. Reputation. Community.

What do you like least/what could be improved?

Nontransparent roadmap. Integration capabilities. License costs and their strategy. Nontransparent.

What key advice would you give to other companies looking to introduce/use the product?

Chose the right implementation partner for the job. Invest internally and build an internal CoE early stages. Create and drive an internal deployment roadmap in order to leverage data integrations between use cases.

How would you sum up your experience?

I've been using it for 6+ years and it's still the strongest tool. However, they need to be aware about competitors and deploy enhancements quicker.

Role
IT employee
Number of employees
More than 2.500
Industry
Manufacturing
Source
Invited by the vendor, The Planning Survey 24, 04/2024
What do you like best?

Flexibility and relative ease and fast pace of implementation and fixing defects. End users find Anaplan very intuitive and easy to use.

What do you like least/what could be improved?

What key advice would you give to other companies looking to introduce/use the product?

Almost anything is possible with Anaplan. Make sure the business processes are defined before implementing.

How would you sum up your experience?

Really good planning tool to use, can’t think about any other planning tool currently available on the market that would come even remotely close to Anaplan.

Role
Member of a cross-departmental BI team
Number of employees
More than 2.500
Industry
Insurance
Source
Invited by the vendor, The Planning Survey 24, 04/2024
What do you like best?

The Community of peers that are available and willing to support each other through development or operational challenges.

What do you like least/what could be improved?

The whole workspace size thing is very challenging, especially at $$/unit of space. The fact that Anaplan rolled out a new workflow ability and didn't make it part of the standard license. It's very disheartening. We've all been asking for workflow (and there is a very limited sort-of workflow option natively) for years. They come out with it and celebrate it and act like it's available.... and it's not.

What key advice would you give to other companies looking to introduce/use the product?

Don't believe it's a quick project. Get your IT teammates involved from the very beginning. Spend extra time understanding and cleaning the data. Don't go live with the MVP (minimum viable product) from your consulting partner. Make sure it works properly with integrations and such first. Get people trained and involved in-house so they can troubleshoot and build up-front. They should be part of the implementation.

How would you sum up your experience?

It's a very flexible tool for organizations that are unwilling or unable to accept COTS solutions.

Role
Consultant
Number of employees
More than 2.500
Industry
Consulting
Source
Invited by the vendor, The Planning Survey 24, 04/2024
What do you like best?

Anaplan's vision for sales planning is complete - from scoring to segmentation to territory, quota, forecasting, and eventually incentive compensation, there are happy clients with complex systems. The ability to connect any of these use cases and to layer them on over a multi-phased approach is unique. You do not have to start in any single location in order to eventually realize a fully connected sales planning vision. Your biggest pain points today can be addressed without the requirement to address everything all at once. Anaplan is well suited for sales for a number of reasons: Anaplan has its own proprietary account scoring algorithm that can be deployed in weeks. From there, you can configure simple business rules to optimize your territories for fairness and likelihood to attain along a bell curve. You can automatically assign accounts to territories based on constraints you set, and then ask sales leadership to review suggestions as their first interaction with the solution. You provide so much intelligence and pre-planning to the folks responsible for executing on GTM strategy that you make better decisions more quickly than you did before while providing the field clarity they never had. Anaplan has a number of partners dedicated to sales planning which ensures a higher likelihood of success with a sales planning deployment. It will be an easy task to find a partner with many happy customer profiles specifically related to SPM.

What do you like least/what could be improved?

Anaplan has limitations related to scalability. Luckily, these issues rarely to never materialize within the sales planning use case because the scale of dimensionality is limited as compared to finance. The licensing structure can be confusing. In order to deploy all sales planning use cases, you may end up with multiple add-on SKUs. All in all, it is not cost prohibitive, but it is not extremely straightforward. The distributed nature of the data, as it is stored in many miniature cubes (called modules), creates a lack of centralized reporting capabilities. Reporting on all of your level 0 data in a single view is difficult to impossible to achieve. This creates excess effort related to reporting that could have been deployed for process improvement

What key advice would you give to other companies looking to introduce/use the product?

Organize your data. Engage IT and ensure they are a part of your project team with their own parallel timelines. When implementations are rocky, it is because the master data changed throughout the engagement requiring re-work. Negotiate hard - you have leverage. Be ready to walk away. Look beyond your immediate needs - envision the perfect future and make sure Anaplan has convinced you that you can achieve this perfect future. Align on this future vision to ensure your partner also takes a long-term perspective on your day 1 architecture.

How would you sum up your experience?

Anaplan is one of the two best solutions on the market today for broad planning needs, inclusive of but also beyond core planning/budgeting/forecasting.

Role
Member of a cross-departmental BI team
Number of employees
More than 2.500
Industry
Retail
Source
Invited by the vendor, The Planning Survey 24, 04/2024
What do you like best?

Flexibility of the tool. It can be adapted to a business' specific needs. It can be used for many different things.

What do you like least/what could be improved?

It is hard to scale for larger organizations with the workspace limit of 720GB.

What key advice would you give to other companies looking to introduce/use the product?

Start slow and keep improving over time.

How would you sum up your experience?

Role
Project manager for planning from business department
Number of employees
More than 2.500
Industry
Insurance