Topics: HRExaminer, John Sumser, by John Sumser

photo of chess board in article by John Sumser about Anaplan

“In the blizzard of analytics products and ideas, it might be easy to miss this one. And, it might be a critical tool.” – John Sumser

It took me a while to start to see the scope of the ambition at Anaplan. The 600 person company has 400 Enterprise clients who use planning as their fundamental management discipline. Make a plan, execute against the plan, correct the plan.

In the blizzard of analytics products and ideas, it might be easy to miss this one. And, it might be a critical tool.

Anaplan builds reporting and analysis tools for enterprise wide planning processes. Does that sound esoteric? It’s certainly well beyond the conventional dialog in HR and HR Technology circles. Workforce planning, the closest thing to an enterprise level planning exercise seems to be infrequently and ineffectively executed.

Let’s take a moment and separate out a couple of ideas.

The term ‘Workforce planning’ can mean two separate but related things:

  • The process of figuring out complex shift coverage in an operational environment. This is what Workforce Software provides. It’s a form of qualifications driven management. It is really critical in complex technical environments from hospitals to nuclear reactors.
  • The process of ensuring that the right talent is hired. By right talent, I mean the employees required to deliver on the company’s sales, production and strategy objectives.

The first is focused on shift schedules. The second is a long range exercise to ensure that the right talent is available to be scheduled. The first involves managing regulatory requirements and PTO. The second is more of a yield oriented analysis.

Anaplan is not a scheduling tool.

Rather, it provides a comprehensive framework for the execution of the company’s plans. It is useful in an environment that focuses on planning, execution and follow up as the basic function of management. In my experience, this form of planning is more likely to work in product related business. The alternative is more likely to be discovered in process or service oriented organizations.
Anaplan logo on article by John Sumser
Take a look at the Anaplan App Hub. Each of the blocks is a well designed set of forms and dashboards designed to manage an internal planning process in that area. Most of these p[rocesses are iterative and feature a top down/bottom up approach. That means that the head shed sets targets and the grassroots function corrects them into a more realistic set of goals. In large companies, this is how goals are imagined and communicated.

Here’s how they describe the Financial Consolidation Module:

Financial consolidation is riddled with complexities across multiple legal entities, account structures, intercompany eliminations, currency translations, and changing regulatory requirements. With Anaplan for Financial Consolidation, you can speed the financial close with a single platform that connects across your statutory and management reporting, budgeting, planning, and forecasting processes—all while complying with IFRS and GAAP standards.

And here’s how they describe the Predictive Labor Modeling app.

Labor is often the largest cost in an organization, but is difficult to manage when business volumes are volatile or are sensitive to factors which cannot be predicted far in advance, such as weather. PLM enables the organization to optimize required labor levels to meet anticipated levels of demand based on a combination of historical trends and projected business volumes.

The apps are delivered on a platform that provides facilities for data integration and APIs. The entire Anaplan offering is designed to embrace and integrate the various data flows that express the organization’s planning and execution. When I called it a piece of ‘middleware’, I was firmly corrected. The ability to read data and write back to its source means that this planning tool can be configured to consume and control all of the dataflows required for real time interaction between plan, actuals and corrective action.

I don’t think I’m doing the product real justice. I hope I have explained it well enough to help you understand what’s happening and whether this interests you.

It’s a part of a larger move to bring HR back to the operational conversation. In Anaplan’s model, HR is a working partner in the integrated process of operating the organization. This form of HR is executed by people who are capable of understanding HR’s working relationship with all of the aspects of the business.

It’s adjacent and related to the amazing work being done in Analytics around the industry.

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