The 3 Pillars of Connected Planning: Part 1⁠—People

Chief Planning Officer Simon Tucker speaking at CPX 2019.Chief Planning Officer Simon Tucker speaking at CPX 2019.

As you’ve surely heard by now, Anaplan is the pioneer of Connected Planning⁠—an approach that uses next-generation technology to connect people, data, and plans across the enterprise to combine strategic insight with business foresight. Ultimately, this allows decision-makers and entire organizations to plan and pivot around changes in their organization, industry, or even the global economy at a moment’s notice.

Although we understand the basics of the methodology, we wanted to take a deeper look into the three pillars that make up Connected Planning: people, data, and plans. Recently, the Anaplan Community team spoke with Chief Planning Officer Simon Tucker about the importance of these three elements in the Connected Planning methodology.

In the first part of our three-part series on the pillars of Connected Planning, Simon answered our questions about the “people” pillar and the need for a cultural shift within an organization.

What is your definition of “people” when it comes to Connected Planning?

Simon: “People are everything. It’s anyone who is in the decision-making process—it’s the people all the way from the top (strategic) to the bottom (operational). That’s why we have the expression ‘all planning for all people.’ Everyone needs to plan and be connected in that process to balance priorities and financial investments and outcomes for the business. The problem comes when people don’t, or won’t, collaborate. All the different areas of the business are impacted by a single action by someone and therefore a reaction by someone else. These changes, however small, can have huge impacts across the organization, so maintaining that connection and using an enterprise planning platform to cope with the ultimate change and ebb and flow of business is critical.”

What is one of the most challenging aspects of becoming a fully integrated, connected company, and what can companies do to overcome that challenge?

Simon: “Years ago, the technology depicted—some would even say forced—how a company did planning, analysis, and decision making. There was little flexibility. The ‘people’ aspect really didn't come into it. They just had to follow the way planning was done. Processes became very skewed, elongated, and convoluted, simply because the technology basically deemed it so. As a result, planning and decision making were slow. People navigated back to spreadsheets and existed in their own isolated world. Enterprise solutions have become bloated, complex and slow to incorporate changes in a world that was becoming more global, competitive, volatile and highly changeable.

"In the last few years, there’s been a revolution, and we like to think we're leading that revolution. We have a platform that has taken all the flexibility and modeling capabilities of a spreadsheet and the sophistication of an OLAP engine, and then added the scalability of an ERP. Business analysts and decision-makers from the business can now model any different business process and scenario that they desire, mirroring the business process that is needed.

"What we are seeing and being told by our customers is that people have to change their behavior and collaborate with far more transparency. There’s a lot less ability to hide and cover things up. You've now got a platform where everyone's collaborating on the same set of data, with the same assumptions, and with full visibility all the way through the decision-making process. The technology can now flex and do whatever you need it to do. As a result, people have to learn how to collaborate and deal with transparency more effectively.

"Traditionally, units were fairly autonomous—some might say siloed. Today they are involving themselves in processes they wouldn't typically get involved in, particularly cross-functionally, and having conversations they wouldn't typically have. Ultimately, businesses are now asking themselves, ‘Is my organization geared up to change in such a volatile business and economic world or are we too comfortable and static with what we do today?’ The world and market are not static, therefore your plans and the platform you use should be agile and dynamic, able to cope with changes easily and quickly.

"Change management—how people adapt to new ways and techniques in an organization—is coming to the forefront, too. Change is inevitable and the business environment is changing on a dime. As a result, people have to change the way they do things on a dime. “

What should companies that are transitioning to Connected Planning look for in new employees?

Simon: “Connected Planning is a process that brings people together to collaborate and make decisions over a common set of goals, assumptions, drivers, and information. It’s also an everchanging process that has to ebb and flow with the market and other conditions. Therefore, you need people that understand the power of collective decision making based on facts and analysis. The people who say, ‘we’ve always done it like this, so we will continue’ need not apply.”

What's the best approach when changing the conversation to focus on Connected Planning versus traditional planning within a company?

Simon: “The first thing you have to do is to show people how collaborating and having a connected decision-making platform changes the way you do business and makes it more efficient for everyone. You have to show people in the organization the value of using Connected Planning, but more importantly, you have to make their lives easier—show them something that they could not see before. Give them insight into what drives the business, what stalls the business, and the results of their actions if they make a different decision. The ability to help people make quicker, more accurate, more informed, and more collaborative decisions is the value you're trying to sell them on. At the end of the day, no one really wants to be head down in a spreadsheet every single day, footing and tying data. They'd rather be making business decisions and executing plans on a solid factual foundation. Knowledge is power.

"Connected Planning is, of course, inherently the most logical way for a company to make decisions. It connects people, plans, and data across the enterprise, pushing decision making to the outer edges of the business where the magic happens. But execution and making decisions on business insights is the important and hardest thing to achieve.

"Companies are realizing that they need to start acting like startups or, at the very least, foster a culture of entrepreneurial attitudes and actions—in other words, the ability to change and pivot when needed, but at scale. The only way you can do that is to have a platform that can ebb and flow with a large organization and can allow people to tweak and make decisions and change business models on the fly but at huge scale.”

What impact does the Chief Planning Officer have on the “people” pillar of Connected Planning?

Simon: “When companies start their Connected Planning journey, they will have multiple business functions that are connected within themselves but struggling to connect across business function lines or silos as they currently exist. You need a senior leader, with a seat at the executive table, who can take a holistic view across the entire organization. Someone who understands the strategic objectives of a company and translates those objectives into tasks, goals, and actions that can be executed in the operational areas of the business.

"The reason startups are so lean and agile is because all of their business functions are usually in one room—they’re collaborating in real-time. They are changing things on the fly and ebbing and flowing with the business process. When you become a bigger organization, the ability to naturally collaborate and execute starts to wane because people start going into silos. Things become complex and dispersed, making that natural collaboration less natural. As a result, you have to have an executive that recognizes that the flow of data, decisions, and collaboration needs to happen across business functions. That individual needs to be able to bring those silos together and keep them together by using a platform that fosters that needed collaboration. Unless you have a single steward that can do that in the context of decision making, you’re going to struggle.

"What we see today, talking with our customers and senior executives in organizations, is that the need to be agile, act like a startup, bend with change, and speed up the process of analyzing data, modeling scenarios, and making decisions, is more strategic and important than ever. In fact, it’s mission-critical now. As a result, the emergence of the Chief Planning Officer has become a topic of conversation in many board rooms. That individual needs to set up the central function that can start to bring people together and use the same plans/decisions across the organization—that’s our dream for our customers. It’s getting the mechanics of making the decision out of the way and freeing up your workforce to do what they were meant to do—make decisions.”

More from Simon Tucker:

Connected Planning brings people together, promoting collaborative decision making, greater insight from collective intelligence, and rapid alignment to business changes. In part two of our Connected Planning pillars series, we will talk to Simon about the “data” pillar and how a single, secure source of information promotes deeper collaboration and faster decision making.