Case study: Anaplan for hypergrowth companies (The story of Rohlik)
In our experience with dozens of implementations, we see a lot of similarities for the reasons clients switch to Anaplan: reducing reliance on Excel, standardizing processes across business units, reducing the time spent on manual work around data preparation, and controlling data quality. Additionally, Anaplan is often used for more effective cooperation between different departments or different geographies. With this in mind, I would like to share one recent implementation that stands out — the FP&A budgeting model for Rohlik, an e-grocery start-up that has grown to more than one million customers across Central and Eastern Europe.
Challenges of a hypergrowth company
As a start-up company, Rohlik had a few budgeting-related challenges and requirements that needed to be considered with an Anaplan implementation:
- Flexibility. The budgeting model needed to be very flexible. New countries, cities, and warehouses are added on a regular basis and should be easy to set up. Moreover, it was important to consider what-if scenarios and have the ability to delete the new market if the management decides the investment is not worthwhile.
- Accurate forecasting. Accurate forecasting for new markets is difficult, as a very limited number of assumptions can be made and it is not possible to rely on historical data. This issue was solved by using patterns from compatible operating markets, which means that a new city can be added in a matter of minutes and the revenue forecast will update automatically.
- Communication. The company is dependent on attracted capital and upon request needs to communicate the latest forecast to the investors, who are interested in seeing a detailed forecasting model and can challenge assumptions behind the valuation.
- Timing. The new model had to be introduced quickly to replace the outdated Excel file for the upcoming investment round. The team decided not to update the Excel file, but instead rely fully on Anaplan to present the long-term forecast to investors.
Anaplan implementation for Rohlik
As part of the implementation, we created several models for regular and ad-hoc budgeting cycles. A budgeting process was run on an annual level and the upcoming months were re-forecasted on a weekly basis (with operational KPIs loaded to Anaplan daily). But in addition to routine reporting procedures, we created a five-year plan model aimed at investors.
The model contains a detailed revenue forecast, considers the number of new and returning customers, calculates the number of orders, and forecasts revenue and cost of sales for each city based on historical averages (for new markets we look at compatible operating cities). Driver-based expenses forecast links to the forecasted number of orders, so any change in [for example] retention rate instantly recalculates the entire profit and loss statement. Finally, there is an independent CAPEX block where capacity shortages in warehouses are highlighted based on revenue forecast and current capacity/plans for expansion.
The five-year plan model was built in a way that it is easy to adjust the organizational structure with new countries and cities. The feedback we got from the customer when the model went live was that it took them less than two hours to add forty new warehouses (in Excel this would require adding rows and copying formulas across all sheets of the file and could have easily taken days of manual work).
The most impressive feature is that to deliver the latest forecast to investors, Rohlik gave them access directly to the Anaplan model. This way the investors can see not only all detailed assumptions behind the forecasted financial statements, but go through the budgeting methodology themselves. In addition to the officially submitted forecast, each investor/company has access to a private what-if scenario where they can change the assumptions based on their judgment and see the financial statements update in seconds in front of them. This approach ensures full transparency of the budgeting process, and very importantly gives investors a possibility to work with a set of numbers they trust without any manual corrections required from the Rohlik FP&A team. At the same time, the user-friendly pages ensure the users new to Anaplan are able to find their way around the model and check the big picture in the reports after making changes to detailed assumptions.
Key to successful implementation
With a tight timeline in mind, Rohlik provided the necessary support for the implementation. The finance team of two people helped the Sonum team gather and verify data, while the CFO was involved in designing the planning process and then continuously supported the implementation team with process-related questions. This allowed us to move fast — Rohlik started the implementation in September 2021, and the long-term five-year plan forecast was first shared with investors in Anaplan in November. The dedicated people from the Finance team became internal model builders and having closely participated in implementation, they understood the structure of the model and were able to support the Sonum team during the implementation, as well as continuously work with the model after go-live.
In June 2022, Rohlik announced they raised 220 million EUR in a Series D round, despite a slowdown in the food delivery start-up sector. We are proud to see the success of the first implementation for Rohlik and the growing role of Anaplan in the FP&A planning process.