Ability to manage metadata (add/delete/re-parent list items) via the Excel Add-in


Summarized Feature Request

End users need the ability to manage list items, i.e. metadata, via the Excel add-in.


By far the highest-priority and highest-value need is to add new list items.



Users switching from Oracle Hyperion / Essbase love the Essbase SmartView Add-in for office. One of the reasons they love it, is they can enter data at the intersection of dimensions in a very sparse cube (module, in Anaplan). Effectively they are able to quickly use Excel to load data into any intersection of dimensions in very sparse cubes/modules, and not have to worry about creating items, metadata.


In Anaplan, we use composite hierarchies to manage sparsity, performance, and ensure calculations happen in real-time. This enables us to have models that are lightning-fast and calculate in real-time, BUT, if users want to create data at the intersection of multiple sparse dimensions (e.g. at the intersection of Company, Cost Center, Product, GL Account) then we've probably used a composite hierarchy to capture this data, and to capture it, we need to enable a user to add an item to that composite hierarchy.


Challenge / Pain Point

The pain here is two-fold:

1. Anaplan users have to think about both metadata and data whenever they want to store data in a composite hierarchy, performing 2 steps; first, create the composite hierarchy item, a step that is inherently data-driven; second, store the data at that intersection

2. Anaplan users cannot manage metadata via the Excel add-in, making it virtually impossible to rely on the Excel Add-in for production data entry in a Corporate Finance setting where new composite hierarchy items are being added all the time


In the web interface, adding a new item to a list can be done using various types of actions and via the Edit > Insert feature, but no such ability exists in the Excel Add-in.


First...a couple of acknowledgements

As an Anaplan evangelist, let me first acknowledge that:

1. Users should not be using Excel to submit data; just use the web interface!!!

2. That other technologies enable users to create intersections amongst sparse dimensions can cause some big issues, and can enable users to balloon the size of their cubes inadvertently, causing a drag on performance


Now...the question...

How can we simplify the user experience for users who want to submit data to items in composite hierarchies that represent net new intersections of planning dimensions (e.g., Entity, Cost Center, Product, GL Account)?


This, bringing us to feature parity with the Essbase Add-in for Smart View.


And what is the business value?

  • Sales: Increase Anaplan value proposition to Corporate Finance at large organizations with sparse charts of accounts, enabling positioning of Anaplan Excel Add-in as having feature parity with Essbase Excel Add-in
  • Customer Satisfaction and Market Development: Help CS and Partners convert an entire generation of Essbase users to Anaplan, who will love that Anaplan gives them what Essbase did, but does so much more.
    • Provide a smoother transition for folks moving from Essbase (and the Essbase Excel Add-in) to Anaplan (with its more-browser-based user experience)
    • Having worked with many of these customers, the change management necessary to get them to go cold turkey on Excel for working with sparse data sets is tremendous, and the lack of this feature makes it extremely painful for organizations switching from Essbase to Anaplan
  • Customer Success and Retention: Improve adoption and reduce implementation risk for large implementations; users can always fall back on submitting data via Excel Add-in, since data entry and composite hierarchy management are the most fundamental of Minimum Viable Product (MVP) requirements
  • Productivity and ease of use: Enable users to use the Anaplan Excel Add-in to add data (and supporting metadata) via Excel, and in a single step:


Requested Enhancement

Our clients are requesting the ability to (1) add composite hierarchy items to Anaplan lists via the Excel Add-in, and (2) add those items at the same time as they add data.


Acceptance criteria:

Per #1 above...

 - Ability to point the Anaplan Excel Add-in to an Anaplan list

 - Ability to *retrieve and read* all items from that list, including its parents and ancestors, into an "active grid" that is in sync with metadata in Anaplan

 - Ability to add a row to that "active grid", enter in values, and *submit* those values; if the values are unique and in all other ways valid, an item will be added to the list in Anaplan

 - Ability to enter and *submit* property data to a list for one or more items (nice-to-have)

Per #2 above...

  - Ability to submit data (existing functionality, today), and in doing so, create a composite hierarchy item for that data to be stored at, if the composite hierarchy item does not already exist

12 votes

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  • Miran
    Status changed to: New
  • This would make the Excel Add in a more realistic tool for end user use for my client too!

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