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Adaptive Planning vs. Planful

Choosing between Adaptive Planning vs. Planful? We’re here to help.

How do you choose the right planning and forecasting tools for your business? Business leaders acquire financial planning and analysis tools because they know that you can’t rely on gut instinct when making an important business decision. But too often, they pick a tool based on recommendations or sales pitches without conducting a thorough comparison of a platform’s capabilities. While it may seem as though one platform offers similar features as the next, in practice, results and performance may vary dramatically. Even a large, enterprise-grade company may not live up to its reputation in the field. 

In this article, we consider two well-known business planning solutions on the market, Adaptive Planning and Planful, and then compare them to one of the newer and more robust tools on the market, OnPlan, that prospective Adaptive Planning and Planful buyers should also consider. 

What is Adaptive Planning?

Workday Adaptive Planning (formerly Adaptive Insights) is a cloud-based business and financial planning tool that’s been on the market since 2003, and while they have a large client base in several countries, the company has lagged in terms of innovation. Workday acquired Adaptive Insights in 2018 and renamed it Adaptive Planning.

Adaptive Planning offers tools used for balance sheet forecasting, structured planning, reporting, and budgeting, even between disparate teams. 

Workday Adaptive Planning
Image: Workday Adaptive Planning

While Adaptive Planning can be used by organizations of various sizes within almost any industry, its typical customers are larger midmarket and enterprise organizations. Workday Adaptive Planning can connect to a number of external ERP, HCM, and CRM systems, but it’s best suited to businesses using other Workday solutions for accounting and workforce planning.

What is Planful?

Planful, formerly known as Host Analytics, is a cloud-based FP&A focused on cross-departmental collaboration, agile planning, and business-wide engagement. Like Adaptive Planning, Planful is focused on midmarket and enterprise customers, and like Adaptive Planning, Planful was acquired, in this case by Private Equity firm Vector Capital in 2019. 

Image: Planful

Planful is more affordable than Adaptive Planning but considerably harder to use. 

Data integrations are complex and can take months of implementation and careful planning. According to online reviews, both tools have performance issues processing large datasets, which may give enterprise customers (or rapidly growing mid-sized businesses) cause for concern. 

How does Adaptive Planning Compare to Planful?

Anaplan and Adaptive Planning are popular options for companies looking for enterprise planning software, but it’s important to examine both in context to see how they stack up. 


Adaptive Planning is considered a market leader, but interest in the company has been steadily fading. Workday Adaptive Planning has a larger customer base than Planful, with thousands of customers in several global markets. Historically, Adaptive has been the favorite of smaller and mid-sized companies, but their customer base has declined due to recent (as well as rumored future) price increases, which have placed the FP&A company out of reach for many growing SMBs. Planful has been a worthy competitor in that regard, with just over a thousand customers. Planful is cheaper than Adaptive Planning but with fewer features and functionality. 

Time to Deployment and Cost

Both Workday Adaptive Planning and Planful include capabilities that (at least theoretically) reduce deployment time and don’t require customization. There is a trade-off to speedy deployments and out-of-the-box capabilities, however: agile companies outgrow them very quickly. This approach was fairly common when the two companies launched in the early 2000s. More modern solutions (like OnPlan) are built to grow as companies (and their data needs) grow. As both Workday Adaptive Planning and Planful pre-date the 2010 “big data hype” by nearly a decade, companies may find their approach stifling and dated, especially as they expand.