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Anaplan Competitors and Alternatives

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SA
Lead Analyst at a retailer with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Top 20
Better than competing solutions but there is room for improvement in terms of UI and performance

Pros and Cons

  • "Anaplan's in-memory calculation engine is super-fast compared to the old tools we previously used. You enter the data and everything shows up in one go."
  • "The cloud engine slows down when working with a large dataset. It still lacks a powerful engine."

What is our primary use case?

Currently, I'm working in marketing and promotions. This includes promotions like buy one, get one offers, supply chain management, as well as forecasting supply and demand. All of this is done in Anaplan. We load the data into the app and plan the business execution at the retail level, including the pricing, payments to the retailers, and so on. 

How has it helped my organization?

Before Anaplan, we would have to supply a lot of technical resources to the team just to make sure the solution was up and running. The great thing about Anaplan is that you don't need to have much technical knowledge. You don't need a lot of raw technical knowledge, but you'll have to have functional knowledge.

What is most valuable?

Anaplan's in-memory calculation engine is super-fast compared to the old tools we previously used. You enter the data and everything shows up in one go. It's all refreshed across the system. So let's say we have a central system that is connected to workforce planning, supply chain planning, demand planning, dispatch planning, etc. If you change one number, it will update everywhere. Reporting is instant. You don't need to load it, refresh it, save it—it auto-saves and is processed by the in-memory calculation engine. 

What needs improvement?

I would like to see Anaplan adopt machine learning algorithms. That's where everything is heading—a package with AI, forecasting, and so on—but Anaplan still lacks it. Anaplan could make some improvements in terms of graphs and visualizations. They do have nice graphs to show the data, but when I compare it to Tableau or Power BI, Anaplan's charting ability is lacking. At the same time, I know it's not a BI tool. It does what it's supposed to do, but machine learning forecasting and artificial intelligence are much needed now. It still uses statistical forecasting. It's all formula- or history-based. There isn't really seasonal forecasting based on what we can now predict because of COVID and all. So the tools still won't support these sorts of forecasting.

Also, the cloud engine slows down when working with a large dataset. It still lacks a powerful engine. There are a couple of areas they're still working on and recently they have improved a lot. And there are some features that have been lost when they update, but that is more related to the tool aspect, not the usability.

We have inside access, so I can see the roadmap of what Anaplan is planning to implement. There's nothing specific that I would like to see that they haven't included there. They're working on the beta version of machine learning as well as the user experience. There are some new features like the ability to generate a PPT-style report within the system itself. 

In terms of the UI and dashboards, much needs to be improved. It's not perfect but compared to others, it is way better. And the way I had from other tools, actually, in terms of everything. I know there are a couple of improvements and announcements the way they use it and all, but it's always a trade-off between how people take it as an output or else anything. 

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using Anaplan for the last five or six years. I work with Anaplan full-time on 
implementation, solution architecture, etc.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's hard to say evaluate the stability of Anaplan considering different users will have different needs and experiences. Just financial planning by itself doesn't require a large application. But if you add to that workforce planning, supply chain management, and marketing, then you'll need a bigger model in terms of data. At that level, it doesn't seem to be very sustainable, but when it comes to the FP&A and other stuff, it's very stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

They've been working on it, and there are some integrations currently available to connect with the output and input sources, but not on a very large scale as other tools can. It does have a decent APA connection. That's where people can integrate with other systems as well. There is support for connecting Dell Boomi, SnapLogic, Informatica Teradata, and a couple of other things.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support from Anaplan is excellent. But I haven't seen any major setback that required technical support. Sometimes the server was down and we couldn't do anything. Support from Anaplan in those instances was great. It's not like other tools where the server keeps failing. Everything is in the cloud, and we hardly see things collapsing.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I have worked on TM1, Essbase, Hyperion, and other similar tools with these capabilities. Comparing to these, I think Anaplan is doing a great job. But in terms of actual user experience, there is room for improvement.

How was the initial setup?

That's one reason people like Anaplan. Setup is very straightforward. You just log in. That's it. There is no IT setup required at all.

What was our ROI?

I don't have data on that yet, but I think initially it's not too much. Let's say I buy a license and in the first year, I might not see a big difference in terms of ROI. But from the second year onwards, it's actually double the initial ROI or else one-and-a-half times it. That's really awesome. I think there are articles on Anaplan itself, which I have reviewed, but I don't recall those numbers. There will be a dip in the first year when they do the licensing and go live for the first time. But after that, when a customer starts expanding to multiple countries or territories, then they will see the real impact of the driver-based analysis and optimization Anaplan provides.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

This is a yearly subscription. So a customer initially buys a workspace and specifies how much GB they want. The minimum starts at around 30 GB. You can buy multiple workspaces.

Anaplan sets a limit on the size of the model. Say that you pay for 130 GB and you want to increase this to 560 or 700 GB, you have to buy a separate one and pay a lot for it. But let's say if you are running a business model on a supply chain and you can't run a model that is more than 130 GB. That's too much. And they'll have to pay and purchase a separate workspace that is 700 GB. They call it "HyperCare" or a "HyperModel" and that's too expensive. 

Pricing is premium because they're the market leader right now. Their competitors are still far behind.  haven't seen a real competitor in Anaplan's niche. Of course, IBM has  Watson Analytics. However, when it comes to implementation, that's too technical and people tend to prefer Anaplan over that. 

What other advice do I have?

Overall things are moving into the cloud. Of course, COVID taught us a great lesson. We used to go to the office and work because the servers are everything. The whole IT setup was required to work on something. But now the business is easier. You sit here and log into Anaplan and run a supply chain model and see how the whole inventory is optimized.  Everything is here in the system. Probably in maybe another five to 10 years, more players will come into this field because of the pandemic. I think Anaplan predicted it a long time ago. That's why everybody's moving into Anaplan, thinking it's safe to run a business on.

If you're considering Anaplan, you should assess the tool first in terms of capability. We have seen some use cases where we're not exactly certain Anaplan is the right fit in terms of the procurement area. Some use cases might not really fit into Anaplan. Another feedback is that Anaplan might require a clean dataset to be fed in in order to get the whole thing working.

There are some ups and downs when it comes to the capability of other engines with Anaplan, but what Anaplan makes simpler is the ease of use. It's simple and gets the job done.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Private Cloud
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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