Given the nature of today’s constantly flexing needs, the ability to create an accurate and agile Supply Chain plan has never been more critical to an organization’s success. This requires unprecedented insight into what once might have been siloed areas, such as finance and marketing. As supply chains grow increasingly complex and more factors weigh into important decisions systems must consider information from several different sources to create a reliable plan and inform the optimal decisions. If a focus on model-based decision support sounds right for your organization, Anaplan may be a good choice.
What is Anaplan?
Anaplan is a cloud-native solution with a focus of predictive modeling. Gartner’s Magic Quadrant gave Anaplan strong marks for its ability to support planning across the various aspects of planning, specifically for its ability to configure and model optimal responses to changing signals. The Anaplan suite covers multiple aspects of planning, including Supply Planning, Demand Planning, and Sales and Operations. Anaplan is able to be integrated with systems, such as ERPs, CRMs, and planning systems using pre-built connectors and APIs.
Usability and Benefits
As a planning and modeling tool Anaplan prides itself in its ability to remove barriers found in traditional, siloed planning. Anaplan’s honeycomb design crates a visual explanation of how various groups relate to one another. Anaplan’s Demand Planning considers all necessary internal and external factors and uses statistical forecast modeling so that companies can increase their forecast accuracy and reduce bias. For Supply Planning, Anaplan provides real-time information with end-to-end visibility, as well as incorporating “what-if” scenario planning to ensure an accurate supply forecast across the entire network. Anaplan also has reports, dashboards, and custom alerts to get the most out of your models and keep an eye on KPIs. Anaplan’s origins in sales and financial planning give it a unique position in the Sales & Operations Planning tool catalog. The ability to integrate signals from multiple business units involved in S&OP helps companies make the best-informed plans possible. Through Anaplan’s recent acquisition of Mintigo they have deepened their expertise in AI/Machine Learning applications, further developing the ability to provide accurate models that react to new variables in real time.
Use Cases and Optimization, What if Scenarios
A core strength of Anaplan is optimization of your supply chain functions. For example, considering variables such as lead times, changes in demand, and supply reliability the Anaplan Optimizer engine can create models for Inventory Optimization and Supply Network Optimization using real-time what-if scenarios.
In addition to Supply Chain optimization, companies have also found success in using Anaplan to build a more responsive budget in less time than previously needed. Others have used Anaplan to maximize staffing efficiency in their warehouse, cutting down on overtime spend. Anaplan has also been used to create a comprehensive financial plann to be used in vendor negotiations. The ability to consider data from sales planning, capacity planning, and other functions means it can help with nearly any use case that could be supported by a transparent view into real-time models.
While Anaplan can help your organization create real-time models to support decision making, like any supply chain solution, implementing Anaplan isn’t a cure-all for all of your supply chain challenges — it must be part of a holistic Supply Chain strategy that considers business strategy and priorities, growth plans, existing technology, data quality, and organizational readiness. If you want to know more about how to create a holistic supply chain strategy, or help in using a comprehensive, systematic approach to selecting the right planning and modeling tools to meet your Supply Chain needs, reach out to us here at Clarkston Consulting.
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Contributions by Madeline Smith