Waking up to change for one of the UK’s leading sleep retailers

With an outdated spreadsheet-based solution, one of the UK’s leading bedding manufacturer and retailer sought to improve its sales forecasting process and planning tools. The company’s existing solution was difficult to use and maintain, and failed to deliver accurate results. As a result, they were often making decisions based on inaccurate and outdated information.

Additionally, they had a number of other challenges with their sales forecasting process, notably:

  • Difficulties onboarding new sales reps: The company’s sales forecasting process was complex and difficult to understand, creating challenges with recruitment and training.
  • Long budget planning process: Their budget planning process was long and inefficient, taking 4-5 months to complete.
  • Large number of SKUs: Having such a large number of SKUs created difficulties with tracking sales and forecasting demand.

In 2022, the company embarked on a selection process to find a new sales forecasting tool, and decided to implement Anaplan, a cloud-based connected planning platform. Having evaluated several implementation options, they chose Mentat Technology to partner with for their advisory and implementation work.

Through this new partnership, Mentat Technology were able to support them with designing and implementing and maintaining their new sales planning, and later financial planning, solutions.

Following their successful implementation, several important benefits to their budgeting and forecasting process have now been realised:

  • A new sales forecasting tool that is much easier to use and maintain than the old spreadsheet-based solution.
  • Substantial improvements in forecast accuracies, allowing them to improve their management of inventory and production.
  • A reduction in the their budget process from 4-5 months to 2 months. This significant improvement allows them to make decisions based off more timely numbers.
  • Better visibility of their future, by planning out to a longer time horizon. Senior leadership are now able to make longer-term decisions around investment, production prioritisation and inventory.
  • More efficient S&OP meetings by giving attendees the power to evaluate multiple simulations in real-time. Anaplan users can flex assumptions and review side-by-side results of various scenarios.

Ultimately, the benefits and improvements that have been experienced following their Anaplan implementation have translated into increased profitability, better internal efficiencies and a clearer visibility into demand trends across their product lines, enabling them to better service their customers.

Leading Insurer Breathes New Life Into Expenses Planning, Workforce Planning and IFRS17 Using Anaplan

In 2022, one of the UK’s leading Life and Health insurers went live with their new Anaplan solution. Their initial deployment was to replace their expense budgeting and forecasting processes, including workforce planning and IFRS17 allocations and reporting. As a technology focused organisation, it had been agreed internally that a reliance on Excel spreadsheets was not the optimal solution, and a selection process had led them to choose Anaplan as its replacement, with Mentat Technology as their advisory and implementation partner.

With a large and diverse cost base, Excel was failing to provide them with a truly collaborative and transparent platform for budgeting and reporting. The organisation wanted to transition to a monthly rolling forecast, and needed a solution which could make this work.

Their Anaplan solution comprises of four core areas of functionality:

Non-staff cost budgeting and forecasting using a selection of several methods and drivers.

Cost centre owners, finance business partners and senior executives can collaboratively plan their expenses through Anaplan’s clean, customised and custom-branded pages. Planners can use several different methods for projecting their cost-base, including the use of run-rates, adjustments vs prior year, recurring fixed costs and manual inputs.

Staff cost budgeting and forecasting driven by employee level FTE projections and HR payroll details.

Anaplan is able to produce an employee level view of cost centre staff costs, supported by HR reports that are loaded monthly into Anaplan. Using security and access controls, users only have visibility of the employees that they have been granted rights to view and modify. Planners can flex assumptions such as monthly FTE, bonus payments and monthly salary, while Anaplan provides them with a real-time view of monthly staff costs, broken down by cost element. Where employees are due to move between cost centres in the future, planners are able to create transfer requests which, once approved, will transfer all FTE and costs from the specified date.

Up to three levels of expense allocation to organisational business units and IFRS17 activities, using a selection of multiple drivers.

Cost centres can be classified into different types (based on the nature of their business activities), with their expenses allocated using on a choice of driver. Depending on their type, cost centres can allocate to other cost centres, or directly to business units and IFRS17 activities.

Users can flex drivers and allocation rules, simulating different assumptions across multiple scenarios with side-by-side results. The level of granularity and transparency that Anaplan was able to provide through these allocations was impossible to achieve in Excel.

Core management reporting.

Using the results from all of the above areas, Anaplan is able to provide real-time reporting of expenses, workforce plans and allocation results. This has substantially reduced the time spent on producing management reporting, as all Anaplan reports are self-serve and provide users with the ability to pivot, drill-down and filter as needed.

Barbican Insurance Group

Insurance companies often face the challenge of having to deal with lots of calculations of varying complexity across different departments. Many insurers have found that Anaplan helps them manage the challenges that comes with large, complex and business critical calculations, coupled with their need to provide internal reporting of results. Barbican Insurance Group has implemented Anaplan’s cloud-based business planning and execution platform bringing more control to their business planning and less labour-intensive reporting.

Collecting data and user inputs from many different departments can make reporting a slow and time-consuming activity. Using spreadsheets brings problems around tracking changes and having multiple people working from the same spreadsheet. If the calculations are found to be wrong, finding the error responsible can be difficult.

A number of insurance companies have found that automated simplified reporting structures accelerate the process so things can be done that wouldn’t have been possible with spreadsheets.

“The insurance sector is one of the world’s most heavily regulated industries and if a business can find a way to not only streamline the reporting process, but also make it more accurate, this represents a crucial competitive advantage. The Anaplan platform can offer such an advantage – our analysis function could be central to the growth of organizations in this sector.”

Mentat Technology supported Barbican with their initial Anaplan implementation. Barbican’s objective was to use Anaplan to help with their reserving process, allowing them to calculate how much money should be held to meet all future claims. Anaplan now handles all of their reserving calculations and Barbican have expanded their use of Anaplan to include Financial Planning and Analysis.

“With Anaplan we can now aggregate up from the most granular level. This gives us greater analytical capabilities which facilitate more informed decision-making” said Alastair Lauder, Syndicate Actuary for Barbican Insurance.

“Our actuarial modelling process is now much quicker in terms of processing time, and as a result we are able to spend more time on the analysis itself. Reporting both externally and internally is now far easier.”

Following their successful implementation, members of the project team at Barbican have continued to recommend Mentat Technology as an implementation partner to other insurers who have wanted to start using Anaplan.

Dynamic Notification Recipients in Anaplan

Several months ago, Anaplan released a ‘notifications’ action in the UX. The purpose of this new type of action was to allow model users to trigger email notifications to others users from within Anaplan. One of the main reasons for wanting to do this would be to support a workflow, whereby an action or change in the model would trigger a notification to another user that their input to the model was required.

The notification action was a step in the right direction for creating a workflow, but it lacked a critical element to support a full-scale process. The recipient of the notification had to be manually selected, and only a single recipient could be assigned to the action. This meant that where the intended recipient would vary by a dimension such as Cost Centre, we couldn’t construct a workflow to follow that organisational structure.

Anaplan has recently delivered an update to their notification action to support dynamic recipients, and I think that this is a game changer for workflow in Anaplan. When creating a new notification, page builders can now choose whether to assign recipients via module data or to specific people.

When selecting ‘Module data’, the page builder now has to select a module where a line item resides which will drive the recipient information. The recipient line item needs to be a User formatted line item.

Anaplan will use the User value – corresponding to the context selection on the Page – to insert the recipient. For example, if I have Cost Centre as a dimension on my Page and I want to send a notification to the owner of the selected Cost Centre, I would use Cost Centre as a dimension of my recipient User line item. I would then select which user should act as the recipient for each individual Cost Centre and select this line item in the Notification designer.

One thing to bear in mind is that Anaplan seems to use the module dimensionality as context within the notification, so make sure the dimensionality of your recipient module matches the dimensionality of your recipient line item.