Anaplan’s UX: Changing the Way Companies Plan
"Hold on, I'll have to call you back. The model needs to update with those changes we just entered, and it's going to be a while before we can see the results."
Does this sound familiar? Countless businesses across the globe are dealing with these inefficiencies within existing planning processes. This leads to untold hours in lost productivity. It's not just about productivity though, it's about focusing on what's actually important to the business. These inefficiencies lead to a major reduction in the time available to focus on what factors are really imperative to success: driving tangible and productive outcomes. The good news is, that's all in the past now, and we're ready to prove it with Anaplan's newest User Experience (UX). The new range of possibilities and functionality allowed us to unlock the door that's been hiding all of those important data insights you've been searching for.
With the experience gained from designing and building apps in Anaplan’s UX for a year now, we have seen firsthand how it has changed the way companies should plan and manage their processes in the future. With less focus on overwhelming grids and forever-updating Excel sheets, planners can now rely on streamlined planning components that can truly drive results at a moment's notice. An excellent user experience, KPIs, and interactive charts are the new normal and are a definite highlight throughout the UX. This all combines to allow for quick and efficient performance assessment. Scenario planning is available at the click of a button, comparing forecasts to baseline budgets or prior plans. By displaying key drivers and inputs, planners of all levels can easily see the impact of their updates. This easy-to-use and visually-pleasing interface will simplify even the most complex planning processes so business users can effectively model the impact and results of changing assumptions.
The first step towards realizing the value offered within Anaplan’s UX is utilizing the appropriate framework to begin the application design. As we have developed within this environment, our focus has been on differentiation and highlighting the new capabilities. This makes it important to have the proper approach mapped out in advance. The logic behind this is straight forward: it isn't enough just to "use" the latest UX. Planning processes should be built in a way that fully demonstrates the dynamic capabilities of Anaplan. The goal is not to simply recreate complex Excel spreadsheets within a shiny new web interface. The aim is to truly transform and showcase the new ways companies can now plan. It's also now possible to combine a much friendlier user experience into those planning processes, which is vital. There is an ease of use for which the tool allows links directly to a greater rate of user adoption, which in turn creates greater value for the organization. The best way we have found to do this is through facilitating that experience visually. Graphs and charts are no longer strictly supplemental to detailed data tables, relegated to the bottom of the page. In this new environment, showcasing different charts and graphs as the main focus of the planning process can equip the user with previously untapped planning potential. Along with charts, KPIs help direct the user to the most important metrics, helping shape more granular analysis. While grids and other aspects of traditional planning are important and still exist, using visuals as a primary tool to point the user in the right direction will optimize the planning process.
Our journey in Anaplan’s current UX began when the initial updates were released. Model builders were put through the training and a task force was formed to evaluate the differences between the classic experience and what had been developed. We started with internal demonstrations given by our peers within our Enterprise Performance Solutions Practice showcasing the new capabilities. An opportunity arose to showcase the art of the possible, specifically for zero-based budgeting in Anaplan. We decided to take our internal expertise related to the subject matter and translate that into a user-friendly application which showcases the benefit of Anaplan over the competition. One of the key benefits is the ability to break down details such as expenses per day throughout a given hierarchy in a simple visual.
Another great opportunity arose to showcase Anaplan’s capabilities with a use case in Incentive Compensation Modeling. In this example, the client was already familiar with the capabilities of Anaplan within the classic user experience. We thought the specific use case would be an excellent chance to demonstrate what the benefits of embarking on that journey would look like. During the demonstration, it was immediately clear what value the new UX could bring to the process. The new charting functionality, KPI cards, graphs, visuals, and grids all fit together on seamlessly orchestrated pages within the application. There was no doubt that this was not only an application with great functionality that checks all of the boxes, but also an extremely user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing one as well.
These examples will be commonplace across the Anaplan ecosystem in a short time, but it's the experience gained in working and building in Anaplan’s new UX that truly provides the most benefit. By taking the time to familiarize ourselves with designing in the new experience, as well as creating our own best practices in addition to Anaplan's, we can be confident that the solution not only delivers exactly what customers are looking for in terms of functionality but is also easy to use. This point can't be overstated. Ease of use and the flow of models help drive and maintain adoption, which is one of the major benefits of utilizing Anaplan’s UX today.
Times have changed and will continue to advance at an even more rapid pace. There is no doubt that the classic experience in Anaplan is exceptional and provides countless benefits over the competition, but the tool has advanced and so have we. From our perspective, the best part is that Anaplan has been evolving just as fast, if not faster, than clients and customers. They have continued to deliver what we have requested so that we can, in turn, provide stakeholders with the greatest experience possible. What we have heard so far from consumers is that they love what they see.
Join Us On This Journey and Never Look Back.
We've taken the steps ourselves as a firm to move forward and be prepared for the next phase of seamless planning. This time, that "future" we all keep hearing about is actually here and we are excited to show you what that means. Take a page from our book and see what has worked for others in your industry by contacting us for a short demonstration of what's possible. We want to hear what you are looking for in a planning solution and what your experience has been. We invite a discussion, so please leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Patrick Desmond, Senior Consultant, Enterprise Performance Solutions—Patrick is a Master Anaplanner and Anaplan Solution Architect and has experience in a multitude of projects across the honeycomb of connected planning. Pat also specializes in helping train customers to effectively construct and enable their Anaplan COE's.
Matthew Valianti, Consultant, Enterprise Performance Solutions—Matthew is a Master Anaplanner and has a multitude of experience within the Financial and Consumer goods industries. Matthew also specializes in training model builders to properly utilize Anaplan.