Top 25 Anaplan features released in 2023

Misbah
edited January 26 in Blog

Author: Misbah Ansari is a Certified Master Anaplanner, Anaplan Community Boss, and CEO/Founder at Miz Logix.

Within this fast-pacing world it is important for technologies to move even more faster. Anaplan — being a leader in the Connected Planning world — released a plethora of changes and/or updates in 2023 to almost every aspect of its capabilities which includes modeling, UX, extensibility, and intelligence. You may have missed some of these updates and releases, so in this article I’ll share more about the top 25 features that Anaplan released during the year 2023.

Also, the Anaplan Community recently hosted a January Challenge, and asked people to chime in with their favorite features from 2023. I’ve noted the most popular six “fan favorites” in my list below along with quotes on their significance.

The top features are divided into their respective areas of their capabilities so that it is easy to understand. Let’s jump into it!

Modeling

1: Number line items default switching from SUM to None (Community top pick!)

This update makes sure that the default for new number line items will switch from SUM to None. This will ensure users do not need to revert and change settings and will reduce memory consumption.

“This modeling change saves a lot of time towards making sure your model is optimized. It may only be a two second exercise to switch it (and it took some adjustment at first) but given the amount of line items we create when modeling, I believe this is a great quality of life change and will save time in the long run while saving unnecessary memory use.” - @matthewreed

2: Smart formatting and error checks (Community top pick!)

A new Modeling Experience feature that improves clarity and readability in building complex formulas. As a user types in the formula editor, it automatically:

  • Indents conditional logic.
  • Adjusts spacing.
  • Formats pasted logic to fit into the formula structure.
  • Allows to catch Syntax errors in their formula before pressing “Apply” button.

You'll be able to turn off/on Smart Formatting from the Preferences menu (cog icon) in the editor toolbar.

“This is a revolutionary feature for model builders. It promptly alerts model builders to check for syntax errors in their formulas. These speeds up the formula-building process. Additionally, Anaplan has upgraded the module/line item search functionality, streamlining the formula-writing experience for model builders.” - @Dikshant

3: Polaris

The new engine for high dimensionality in Anaplan is generally available. Polaris is a natively sparse engine that works side by side with the Classic Anaplan engine and allows for massive dimensionality. See Anaplan Polaris™ Calculation Engine brochure and contact your Anaplan Account team for more details. There were some updates to Polaris during the year and some of these are as follows:

  • Polaris supports Time Ranges.
  • RANK and RANKCUMULATE functions are both supported. Please note that RANK/RANKCUMULATE over Line-Item Subsets is not currently supported. We hope to have this available in the future.
  • The maximum number of Line Items in Polaris per model is now 15,000. This is an increase from 10,000.
  • Calculation Effort Column for Polaris models: Polaris models will show an extra column in the Blueprint View called ‘Calculation Effort’. This column shows the percentage of overall calculation effort that each line item has been responsible for in the last 10 minutes. This can be used to highlight which line items are responsible for most of the calculation effort in a busy model.

4: Restore a previously deleted model

Users will be able to restore a previously deleted model. Models will be available to be restored for a period of 14 days from deletion; beyond this they will be removed without notification.

5: Remove limit for list rest index

Previously, the list index limit was 900 million when there were no items in the list. This update allows users the discretion to reset their lists at any point on the basis the list is empty.

6: Create a UX App, Page, and Category within the modeling experience

Within the modeling experience, page builders can create a UX App, Page, and Category from the Pages tab. This will enable builders to quickly build out the UX content while building out their model.

7: Unlink revisions when restoring to model history ID

ALM users will be able to unlink revisions when restoring a model to a point in its history. This feature is very useful when trying to go beyond the latest Revision tag sync.

8: Order list action thresholds increased from 1 million to 50 million

Anaplan has increased the threshold on the Order list action to permit users to safely sort largely lists.

9: Half year totals for the 13 period calendar

The half-year totals have been enabled for the thirteen 4-week period calendar. Previously, only quarter totals were available for this calendar type.

User Experience (UX)

10: User uploaded images (Community top pick!)

Every tenant has a 3GB storage allocation which can be used to store images for use across UX pages, removing the need for third party image storage services and making this the ideal solution for storing logos, report backgrounds, and imagery used to complement the data on your boards and management reports.

“Storing all your assets in one place which you can easily navigate? Sounds about right to me!” - @kpasko

11: Reset page

Anaplan has added an option to reset end user configurations back to the page default. This can reset end user filters, sorts, pivots etc.

12: Expand/collapse in context selectors (Community top pick!)

This first phase of functionality has added expand/collapse capabilities to any context selectors that use a “clean” dimension. This means any hierarchical dimension that is used in its entirety without any show/hide, filtering, or other alterations applied.

“This is a credit to a piece of functionality that be made available this quarter for data grids as well. Something users are very much used in Excel and that competitors handle pretty well already so I was very keen to see this first milestone reached and I'm very much looking forward to seeing it implemented into grids!” - @Alessio_Pagliano

13: Cancel a model process once it's started

Page builders can decide, on a button-by-button basis, which should be provided with a cancel button, and which should have this option disabled.

14: Geo-Mapping

Geo-Mapping is an easy-to-use tool providing real time visual insights right within Anaplan. Visualizations and map cards are flexible and versatile to provide the views needed to analyze and execute more effectively across all use cases. interact with the map directly to change data on the spot. Full pan and zoom Geo-Mapping capabilities:

  • Global mapping support
  • Territory grouping, e.g. Benelux, DACH
  • Boundary support (country, state, zip code)
  • Map markers can be sized, color, and shaped based on model data
  • Lasso to select and create territories (territory design)
  • Compatible real time Anaplan data

15: Worksheet as a Card template

You can now save the main Worksheet grid as a Card template or use a Card template as the main Worksheet grid. This saves time in building out Worksheets with similar grids and also allows you to use the Worksheet main grid in Excel, PowerPoint, or Word using the Microsoft 365 add-in.

16: Grid updates

There were a lot of updates that were made to grid cards during the year. Some of the important ones are as follows.

  • Paste feedback: When pasting values in a grid, the user is now informed which cells have updates with a brief color highlight.
  • Double click to sort for view designer: Page builders will be able to quickly sort columns ascending and descending by double-clicking a column on a grid in the view designer. Page builders can still also sort and un-sort using the toolbar menu or via the context menu as normal.
  • Grid themes: Choose from a selection of pre-defined grid themes to update the look and feel of your boards or worksheets.
  • Grid summary styles: Highlight sub-totals or totals to make them stand out to emphasize key line items.
  • Grid font size: Pick font sizes for your grids, making them larger for a high-level summary or smaller to fit more details on the screen.
  • Image row height: The minimum row height for images in grids has been removed so you can now set the row height small to display small images if required.
  • Disable filter and sort on grids: You can disable the filter and sort option in a grid. This is especially useful in scenarios where you may be using synchronized scrolling and may not want the end user to apply a sort or filter.
  • Disable export on grids: You can disable the export option in any grid. This is especially useful in scenarios where you may want to restrict what data a user can export. Check out Anapedia for more information.
  • Copy down/copy across toggle on grids: Anaplan has added a toggle to enable the page builder to disable the copy across / copy down across in all grids.

17: Chart updates

Anaplan has split out the settings so users can modify their chart on a per-series basis. This allows the Page Builder greater flexibility to present key data and insights. Check out the full list of updates below:

  • Visually improved chart selector showing the full charting library.
  • Refresh of chart configuration panel to support multiple chart settings per series.
  • Set the default chart setting behavior or override on a per-series basis.
  • Axis side (moved to per-series settings).
  • Series stacked or clustered (moved to per-series settings).
  • Data label display can be set per series reducing the number of labels, which makes it clearer to read.
  • Choose the shape and size of your chart marker.
  • Change the style of your line to emphasize whether the data is for the current year forecast as a dashed line or prior year numbers as a split line. Line style includes:
    • Dot
    • Dash
    • Spline
  • Change font size, set the legend, axis, label, and title fond sizes on your chart.

18: Copy branch

Move more of your rich, interactive planning process into the UX as we add support for the Copy branch action, along with a re-imagined end user experience that makes things easier and clearer than before.

19: Form updates

Some of the updates that were made to Forms:

  • Dependent drop-downs in forms: Page builders and model builders can leverage relationships between different lists when creating new items using UX forms. No additional modeling is required as forms will automatically respect the rules built into your line items.
  • Forms validation options: New form validation options have been added to text and number-formatted line items or properties. Model builders can specify:
    • A minimum character length required, and the maximum character length allowed, for text-formatted line items/properties.
    • The lowest value and largest value allowed for number-formatted line items/properties.
    • This includes end user validation messages when adding new list items in a form, helping planners provide more accurate dates more quickly.

20: Re-order context selectors (Community top pick!)

Re-order the context selectors on boards and worksheets so the page builder can choose the most relevant order for their users.

“For so many of our NUX builds, this has made a clear quality-of-life improvement with very little time spent by our CoE. A great small enhancement that has been very helpful for us!” - @TimothyThomas

Extensibility and Integrations

21: CloudWorks

Updates/enhancements to CloudWorks are as follows:

  • CloudWorks data orchestration v1: Save time and minimize errors by daisy-chaining multiple pre-existing integrations across models and workspaces.
  • CloudWorks Restricted Integration User (RIU): Alleviate burden on integration admins to proliferate access to CloudWorks by entrusting additional users to manage and execute CloudWorks integrations.
  • Trigger CloudWorks™ Integrations from UX dashboards: Page builders can add CloudWorks™ integrations to their UX pages as action buttons for end users to trigger. This removes reliance on administrator users by allowing better engagement. You can
    :
    • Define which integrations you want to expose to the UX.
    • Add CloudWorks™ integrations directly to action cards.
    • Edit and tailor action buttons, as with all action buttons.
    • Trigger and run integrations from any UX page.

22: Excel add-in

Updates/enhancements to Excel add-in are as follows:

  • Select writable list items from a dropdown list: When editing a list item within a writable card in Excel, you have the option to select your values from a dropdown list, thereby minimizing the occurrence of potential errors.
  • Auto-adjust columns width: When inserting a new card in Excel, the column width will automatically adjust to accommodate the data being inserted, removing the need for manual adjustments.
  • Anaplan for Microsoft 365: Values that are formatted as percentages or currencies in Anaplan will maintain their data formatting in Excel. This functionality will be able to be switched off. When you insert a card as data in Excel, you can now display a list of card details above your card data. This includes:
    • Card name
    • Model name
    • Module name
    • Context selectors
    • Last refresh date
  • Preserve formulas: You can now add Excel formulas to your read-only and read-write connections. This will result in time-savings for users who often push cell changes from Excel to Anaplan and wish to reduce manual steps.

23: APIs

  • API - Bulk model delete: Users will be able to self-serve and delete multiple models. The Bulk Delete API accepts a comma separated list of model GUIDs. Upon sending the request, the model GUIDs in the list would be deleted.
  • Automation of list index API calls: To make it easier for customers to build applications or scripts that combine different transactional API calls Anaplan has released new API endpoints to retrieve metadata for Actions.

Intelligence

24: PlanIQ

Updates to PlanIQ are as follows:

  • Anaplan Prophet - new explainable algorithm in PlanIQ: With this new algorithm Anaplan expands the selection of algorithms powered by Anaplan forecasting engine. Anaplan Prophet brings various improvements:
    • Explainability: understand which drivers are impacting the forecast.
    • Faster running times for model training and forecast creation.
    • More related data: up to 28 related time series.
    • Improved forecast accuracy achieved through automated tuning of algorithms based on the automated analysis of the data in the data collection.
  • PlanIQ quota tracking dashboard: Effectively manage PlanIQ predictions usage to scale licensing accordingly to meet forecasting demand. You can now better align your monthly quota with forecasting needs, tracking usage granularly down to the individual forecast action.

25: Predictive Insights

Automatic scheduling in Predictive Insights: Introducing the new scheduler in Predictive Insights! Users can effortlessly make sure that their PI actions run with the latest and most complete data, removing manual overhead. With automated data refreshes, configurable scheduling options, and notifications, users can make data-driven decisions with ease.

Bonus shout out — Workflow (Community top pick!)

Workflow helps you to design, implement, and manage automated business processes within the Anaplan UX and you can easily assign them to stakeholders. These speeds up the task assignment and the approval process. Workflow tells users which tasks they're responsible for, when they are due, and how to complete them. If you haven’t read about Workflow, you can in Anapedia.

“Really powerful feature saves a lot of time, is reusable and built to support various scenarios (like groups and hierarchies, delegation, Anaplan processes, Time dimension with switchover etc.). It also helps that end-users get the automated and on-demand notifications. And obviously it works also in mobile app, which means some simple tasks can be done on smartphone!” - @M.Kierepka

Conclusion

This list is not exhaustive and there are many more other features that were released to the platform which did not make it to our top 25. If you wish to read about all of them, here is the link for releases. Let us know in the comment section about your favorite release of 2023. You can also check out the Community’s top picks in the January Challenge blog!

Comments

  • Soumya Bhattacharya
    edited January 26

    Thanks @Misbah, Always new learnings from you

  • Thanks for putting this together in such a clear, concise format @Misbah ! This will work as an excellent resource for so many CoE teams!

  • @Misbah

    I appreciate your efforts in putting all of this together and mention in your post 😊

    This post is truly valuable for everyone, enabling them to review the latest features and make the most of it in their respective models.

    Keep up the good work 👍️


  • @TimothyThomas @Dikshant Glad that you found it helpful.

  • damianshameer2
    edited February 15

    A note on "10: User uploaded images (Community top pick!)"

    Anaplan is storing the assets you upload to an Amazon AWS S3 Bucket.

    Many large organization BLOCK access to AWS S3 by default for data security reasons, ie, the org does not want folks uploading confidential data to the could. AWS S3 may be used within the org but requires pre-approval (exemption process) and access is granted only if absolutely need.

    How to determine your org blocks AWS S3:

    Asset upload will fail.

    What if my org has an exemption process, I got approval to access S3 and I am able to upload an image and used it on my Model:

    The image will render for you, however, the image will not render to your Users as the Users do not have access to S3. The only way this works if EVERY user of that Model goes thru that exemption process and gets access to S3 and this may not be a feasible option.

    A simple way to test is to copy the URL of the uploaded asset (use the copy button), open a new tab in the browser and paste. You will see error message "unauthorized" ..this means your org's proxies/firewall is blocking the access.