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Is your enterprise sales plan making or breaking your sales team?

Sue Barsamian, senior vice president of indirect sales at HP, recalls: “We were always looking at what actually got deployed in a rear-view mirror that was usually 90 to 120 days later. And that’s because it was completely manual. This was a spreadsheet-run exercise and by the time that all got rolled back up, and people corrected minor errors along the way, we were usually at the beginning of the second quarter.”

The solution was to move the entire sales planning and management process over to Anaplan’s cloud-based platform.

Ms Barsamian’s verdict? “We have deployed our first year in Anaplan and it went great. I have been at HP eight years and I have never started a year like we did this year, thanks to Anaplan.” She cites a long list of benefits, such as the ability to change the plan at any moment, analytics functions which allow her team to create projects in a moment and the speed. “It was incredibly exciting, but also a real big deal to be able to step into what we consider to be the best-in-class quota and territory management application out there.”

The problems experienced by HP are common. A survey by SiriusDecisions reveals half of firms use between five and ten iterations of the sales plan, with only one in five firms capable of resolving the re-evaluation process with a month. Almost a fifth take three months. This is much too slow.

So what is Anaplan and why do so many firms use it?

Anaplan is a platform that delivers cloud-based, in-memory business planning and execution for sales, operations and finance. The platform was built from the ground up to empower companies to plan, collaborate and act – in real time. Unlike legacy planning tools, Anaplan delivers what companies have always needed in a planning solution – powerful modelling, adaptability on the fly, engaged users, and real-time performance no matter the data volume and complexity. It replaces Excel spreadsheets and other generic tools. For financial projects and “what ifs”, it is the most advanced, quickest and versatile application available.

Anaplan enables business users to turn the complexity of your business operations into powerful, easy-to-use models

Suitable for firms of all sizes, from ambitious startups to FTSE 100 enterprises such as Aviva and Taylor Wimpey, Anaplan boasts a long list of benefits over legacy systems. Anaplan enables business users across your organisation to turn the complexity of your business operations into powerful, easy-to-use models.

The first advantage you’ll notice is the way Anaplan is purpose built for modelling complex business scenarios for finance, sales and operations teams, from sales forecasting to financial consolidation to trade promotion planning and more. Data is sucked into the platform smoothly, with all your complex business rules stored and managed. You can make charts, compile reports and analyse data using a vast library of functions, including more than 100 applications and templates. There is version control, time and hierarchy management, auditability and workflow management as standard.

The second major difference is the way Anaplan is built. Traditional spreadsheets struggle with large volumes of data. Anaplan works smoothly no matter what the data volume. This is due to two technologies: in-memory computing and HyperBlock™ Architecture. This means users can alter data without over-stressing the model. Update a cell and the change is implemented instantly, even if it affects a trillion cells. Excel and other systems cannot do this. Anaplan is immune to the stalling and crashing caused by complexity overload.

As a cloud-based service, Anaplan requires zero maintenance by the user. Support and platform upgrades are handled by the provider. For the user there is no IT support needed and no hardware upgrades required. New services can be added by Anaplan on an ongoing basis. And cloud services ensure access to users anytime, anywhere. Just log in and start working no matter where you are based.

This approach means an Anaplan implementation takes a tenth of the time of a traditional planning software deployment.

Anaplan is fully supported from any mobile device (iOS, Android, Windows) so you never have to be disconnected from your data. Users can access plans anywhere, anytime.

The firm itself is a privately-owned company based in San Francisco, founded in 2006 by British technology pioneer Michael Gould. Currently Anaplan’s chief technical officer, he realised that existing planning software on the market could not support the growing demands of business, and set out to transform the industry by using in-memory computing, 64-bit multi-core processing and software-as-a-service delivery, combined with HyperBlock™ Architecture to manage data

In May 2014 Anaplan announced it has completed its series-D round of $100 million in financing, bringing total investment in the company to $150 million. Named by Gartner as “Cool Vendor” in 2012, Anaplan now lists HP, Prudential and McAfee as just some of its growing list of blue-chip customers.

To get started with Anaplan, begin with an area of the business that is currently being managed by a complex set of spreadsheets and book an initial meeting with Anaplan. Then Anaplan will work with you to build a proof of concept on the Anaplan platform. Alternatively, go to the Anaplan website and watch a demo video and see how to build an Anaplan app in 15 minutes. You’ll see how easy it is.