The 3 Pillars of Connected Planning: Part 3⁠—Plans


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In the first part of “The 3 Pillars of Connected Planning” series, the Community team spoke with Chief Planning Officer Simon Tucker about the importance of the 'people' pillar of Connected Planning and the need for a cultural shift within an organization. In part two, we took a look at the 'data' pillar and what companies should consider when it comes to importing their data into the Anaplan platform. In part three, Simon discusses the importance of the 'plans' pillar of Connected Planning.

What is your definition of ‘plans’ when it comes to Connected Planning, and why is this pillar important?

Simon:  "Plans are the execution of strategic objectives—it’s the plan you put in place. It’s distinct from a budget, which is static; plans are more dynamic. What people are actually doing is planning on a more frequent basis and using platforms like Anaplan to run the business.

It’s all about how you execute on a strategic objective, how you change and tweak the plan and how quickly you change and tweak that plan to execute on the strategic objectives, despite environmental conditions like macroeconomics and competitors. That’s why plans are very important within a Connected Planning context.

"In today’s planning and decision-making world, companies need to be far more agile and analyze what happened in the past, mix that with the present to then predict what will happen in the future, connecting all the critical areas of the business together to see, ahead of time, what the financial statements will look like and then as a result, what decision will be made. But more importantly, it’s taking action from those insights. Unlike a BI or reporting solution, good planning platforms allow companies to redirect actions taken by people in the business as a result of the insights they have made."

How is Connected Planning different from regular planning and how can it transform a company?

Simon: "The main difference between Connected Planning and regular planning is the connectivity between the business functions, and therefore, how the data flows from one function to another to affect the P&L cash flow and balance sheet. Either budgets or plans are done in most business functions, but they’re done in a silo. Connected Planning actually connects all the different plans across the organization. What flows between those plans is the data—that connective tissue. It’s basically drivers, inputs, and outputs. Therefore, it is a balancing act up and down the major functions to achieve the strategic goals of the company while efficiently using the resources a company has. As things change, the balance is disrupted, and tweaks have to be made to still achieve the goals of the company.

"An example of that would be output from sales that would drive a marketing plan. The plan says we need to generate $20 billion in revenue. Marketing then reverse engineers that and says, “In order to get enough leads to generate $20 billion, we have to do the following activities.” In essence, you translate financial goals into operational, tactical execution, such as the number of campaigns you’ll need to create, your average ACV, and how many opportunities you’ll need in order to generate $20 billion. Once you have that information, you extrapolate from there."

What impact does the Chief Planning Officer have on the ‘plans’ pillar of Connected Planning?

Simon: "The Chief Planning Officer (CPO) has a huge impact because the CPO is the person who is holistically and strategically across all plans of the organization. He or she is the person that facilitates the taking of the transaction systems, the data, the metadata—taking it into a central hub and then splitting that hub into the different use cases that are connected across the organization. They’re pivotal in the strategy and the execution of those plans across the organization. The CPO is the steward of critical business decisions and ensures the agility and flexibility needed for the entire organization to keep up with business change and yet still execute strategic goals."

How do you get a company and all its employees onboard with the plan that you’re trying to achieve with the Anaplan platform?

Simon:  "The trick is you have to think with the end-user in mind if you’re going to push your plans out to the edge of the organization. Everybody plans every single day, but they use spreadsheets and goodness knows what else, disconnected from the main plan. If you’re going to push the central plan out to someone, make sure it’s actually doing good and it’s actually making their daily job easier, not harder. Cut down on the time it takes for people to actually do their plans and make decisions. That’s why you have to think about the end-user in mind first, otherwise, you won’t drive adoption in the organization. You have to empower them to see insights and take new actions."

What is a challenge that companies will face when it comes to Connected Planning?

Simon: "Change! Believe it or not, even if someone is using a very difficult process, it’s a process they know, and they don’t want to change that process. They feel bad about changing it. People inherently don’t like change, so you have to prove to people that you’re going to make their lives easier and they can make quicker, faster decisions and make their job better on a daily basis. That’s the biggest challenge."

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 four of The 3 Pillars of Connected Planning series, we will discuss how the three pillarspeople, data, and planswork together in Connected Planning.