Who and What is a Chief Planning Officer?


You may have noticed this past summer we created a new role within Anaplan called a Chief Planning Officer. In my Connected Planning blog series, I plan to share the value we believe organizations will receive by placing a Chief Planning Officer in a seat at their executive tables.

Within this series, I want to focus on Connected Planning and the exciting things that are happening—and will happen—in the market as companies begin to see the strategic value of Connected Planning. I’ll be inviting industry experts to participate, too.

First, a little bit about me…

Simon and Frank present a customer award at Anaplan's 2018 Hub conference.Simon and Frank present a customer award at Anaplan's 2018 Hub conference.I’ve been in the planning, forecasting, and analytics software industry for about 25 years and have been talking about integrated planning for just as long. Until the Anaplan platform came along, though, no company or technology could really “connect” (if you’ll excuse the pun) the dots. Tools and solutions were designed for, and addressed, the finance area of the business. Spreadsheets or point solutions served the remaining business functions and “never the twain shall meet,”[i] as they say.

But when Anaplan was conceived we had a way to show folks the Anaplan platform that brought functions across the company together. Finance folks would take us down the hall to meet the operations people, who (in their words) were “in a whole world of hurt” using spreadsheets or point solutions that required painful process adjustments to fit the tool.

(ASIDE): Remember those days? We called it a best practice in those days (a.k.a., this is the only way we could build the tool so best you get with our program).

Elated that someone had designed a flexible, powerful platform where the customer (shock) could design to fit the process they wanted/required in operations or finance or sales, they were all in. Weeks later (yes, you read that right: weeks), they typically had one or more operational systems up and running, collaborating across the globe for modeling and planning processes such as territory and quota planning, Incentive Compensation Management (ICM), market segmentation, etc. Once they got a win on one model, processes that were upstream or downstream from those processes soon followed. A natural flow across the function and business was taking shape. People saw that it just made sense to feed and be fed by other adjacent processes/models, and due to the high degree of flexibility in Anaplan, the sky was the limit.

True Connected Planning was born. And it was a beautiful thing.

Anaplan and Connected Planning

Simon interviewing a panel of Anaplan customers and partners.Simon interviewing a panel of Anaplan customers and partners.Once Connected Planning was born, the company, the platform, and the brand gained greater awareness. Anaplan was adopted by businesses of size that required bigger/better model building and planning. People started to take notice and see that Connected Planning was no longer “bluster” or “spin,” but was very real and added significant value. Time, dollars, people energy, blood, sweat, and tears were saved. Songs were written*, t-shirts made, and careers created around the Anaplan platform.

(*Yes, someone made a song about Anaplan. You just can’t make this stuff up.)

We were still guiding the market into the Connected Planning journey until a shift started with great force about 18 months ago.

The Birth of the Chief Planning Officer

Simon presenting the history of Anaplan during a recent University visit.Simon presenting the history of Anaplan during a recent University visit.People were passionate about what we were doing and what they could do with Anaplan. They started talking differently. The conversation shifted from “planning” to “running” the business. Finally, people were starting to see why they needed to shift away from traditional methods of planning, budgeting, and forecasting to a more daily, real-time method where decisions were made at the point of the plan. The desire to reduce the decision time from plan to action became a goal people could see, touch, and taste—and they were hungry for more.

So, connecting the “dots,” or plans, within business functions started to flow. In fact, lots of our customer base have multiple, connected planning scenarios or use cases within business functions. Many were connecting across functions, too, but that’s where momentum slows a little.

The C-suite sees tremendous value in connecting people, processes, and plans across the company. But this notion lacks an overall sponsor, champion, and table-thumper. Someone who can elevate Connected Planning out of the silos for each line of business and into the C-suite. Someone who can put in place a planning platform that connects those dots [plans] and can facilitate the ebb and flow of decision-making across an organization. Someone who can make sure there is a comprehensive, yet flexible, governance system so that people are talking the same language and are using, for example, the same set of central assumptions, customers, products, etc.

You guessed it. They need a Chief Planning Officer.

More About Connected Planning:

Operationalizing the Role

So, armed with the following facts and observations, Frank Calderoni, CEO of Anaplan, and I started discussing the role and how we could help organizations to accelerate Connected Planning to make better decisions and get a competitive edge.

We knew:

  • People were already starting to connect the dots within functions quite easily. It was a natural evolution of business planning.
  • Dozens of stories came to light where companies told us that connecting plans across an organization was making those plans greater than the sums of their parts.
  • There was a strong desire to use planning as a more strategic weapon in a turbulent, competitive world.
  • The Anaplan platform was designed for Connected Planning with a scalable, cloud infrastructure that could naturally and easily connect functions.
  • Digitization of core decisions, connected to the central nervous system of the business was critical to get ahead, keep ahead, and stay afloat.
  • People were learning that “boundary” systems (think spreadsheets) that are used to make key decisions in the business outside of any core process are inaccurate and invisible to many—as well as a recipe for disaster.
  • That a central function and “Center of Excellence,” was needed to connect all these critical processes together and assist the business in their decisions and collaboration with other functions.

So, we decided to lead the way and help companies take Connected Planning to the next level.

(That was the introduction of my new role as Chief Planning Officer.)

We are extremely excited to start the next leg of our journey and help other companies continue their own. We’ve seen a huge amount of excitement from people across the globe which tells us we’ve struck the right chord.

If you, or someone you know, would be a great candidate for a role as Chief Planning Officer, or you’d just like to get in touch and share ideas, feel free to reach out. I’d love to hear from you.

Happy Anaplanning.

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[i] https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/never-the-twain-shall-meet