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Best Alternatives for Adaptive Planning FP&A Software

Considering Adaptive Planning or looking for alternatives? Learn more about your options below.

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Uri Kogan

January 24, 2021 2 min read

Best Alternatives for Adaptive Planning FP&A Software

Workday Adaptive Planning Alternatives

Looking for alternatives for Adaptive Planning? We’re here to help.

Today’s world seems incredibly uncertain. It’s much harder to predict what will happen in our markets and operating environments compared to ten years ago. As a result, business leaders are leaning on their Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A) team to provide insight into potential threats and new opportunities that the company could explore strategically. 

Financial planners have to present data in a contextualized, digestible manner to facilitate decision-making at the top, breaking down the functional silos that have previously kept financial data within the finance department and operational data in sales, marketing, and other departments. Teams need the right financial modeling tools at their disposal to do this. 

Workday Adaptive Planning is one option companies use for modeling, forecasting, and interdepartmental collaboration. Formerly known as Adaptive Insights, you can use Workday Adaptive Planning for automated budgeting and forecasting, planning, and financial reporting. The features are comparable to OnPlan, Vena Solutions, and Planful, all of which we’ll cover in this article. 

adaptive planning alternatives
Adaptive Planning

Adaptive Planning uses an interface that closely resembles Excel, with drag-and-drop features. It’s fairly simple to use across various departments and integrates with multiple ERP and business solutions, including Salesforce and Intacct. This makes it simple for financial professionals to adopt and use right from the beginning. Most clients praise their customer support and service levels. 

But a few disadvantages may dissuade you from adopting Adaptive Planning. Workday Adaptive Planning is expensive, and the user interface isn’t as intuitive or straightforward to use as the likes of OnPlan or Anaplan. Setting up Workday Adaptive Planning can take months and will likely require professional assistance from a consultant. 

Disadvantages of Using Adaptive Planning

Workday Adaptive Planning is a solid budgeting and forecasting tool that can track KPIs across the organization. It’s also suitable for reporting at all levels, ranging from the boardroom to individual departments. While Adaptive Planning promises greater agility and collaboration, some disadvantages could hinder your progress:

Performance Degradation

While Workday is a simple tool to use, users have reported performance degradation as their business scales, especially as data sets grow and multiple users access the system concurrently. Unfortunately, this is a common technical limitation of solutions like Adaptive Planning built on older databases and cloud technologies. Other users have complained that mapping and integration between Adaptive Planning and non-Workday-related systems can be difficult and require additional support from outside consultants. 

Breaking Formulas

Not all budget owners are equally tech-savvy, and there have been instances where formulas have broken due to human error. 

Integrations and Imports are Complex

The integration between Work Adaptive Planning and solutions like NetSuite or Intacct can be hard to set up and handle compared to other tools. Even importing spreadsheet files requires complex modifications and revision as the Adaptive logic is very different from Excel logic. 

Untimely System Updates

Some clients have complained that Adaptive tends to plan system updates during budget season, which is inconvenient and wastes precious hours during the busiest financial season. 

Multi-Currency Automation Issues

While Workday Adaptive Planning offers multi-currency and multiple exchange rates, the system doesn’t always handle it well, causing issues with balance sheets. 

Locked into Workday

Adaptive Planning works best with Workday Financial Management and Human Capital Management. While it’s an excellent modeling tool for users that use Workday for all their financial systems, it can cause friction for those that don’t.

Alternatives to Adaptive Planning 

While Adaptive Planning is a solid solution with numerous benefits, there are disadvantages, including:

  • The system isn’t foolproof – budget owners can unknowingly break formulas;
  • Integrations and imports are difficult and can experience performance issues;
  • Untimely system updates disrupt the budget season;
  • Multi-currency support is offered but not fully functional;
  • Workday locks in clients.

If you need something faster, cheaper, and more adaptable, it’s best to consider one of the alternatives. 

#1 — OnPlan 

Companies need business agility and access to data to make informed, fast decisions in a rapidly changing world. OnPlan is a financial modeling and forecasting tool built by financial planners and analysts that allows companies to examine and adapt to new opportunities and challenges thoroughly. 

OnPlan brings together the multitude of disconnected systems that often exist in business to provide a comprehensive, holistic view of the entire business from a single source. It offers excellent, stable performance even when working with data-intensive or complicated models — unlike others, OnPlan is built on the latest cloud-scale database technologies. OnPlan easily integrates with several ERP, HCM, and CRM systems and ideally suits SMBs. 

alternatives for adaptive planning  onplan
OnPlan

Financial managers can share forecasts to Excel for simple reporting, use what-if scenario planning to test opportunities and threats, conduct variance analyses for rolling forecasts and gain insight into budget vs. actuals with a few clicks. 

Because OnPlan uses familiar Excel formats, the time to value realization and learning curve is short. Teams can be up and running within a few days. While Adaptive Planning and OnPlan are similar in features and functionality, OnPlan is 15% of Adaptive Planning’s asking price. It’s also extremely fast with a modern and easy-to-understand user interface.  

Key Features 

  • Rapid onboarding in days, not weeks. 
  • Integration with Excel, Xero, Google Sheets, Zapier, Google Analytics, Salesforce, and several other ERP systems. 
  • Powerful budget variance analysis tool.
  • What-if scenario planning to test opportunities.
  • Catch errors and even potential fraud through variance analysis. 
  • Time-saving predefined dashboards and templates.
  • Contextualized modeling.
  • Administrator-driven permission management across levels.
  • Monthly, quarterly, and yearly summaries for simplified reporting on the go.

Use Cases

  • BvA’s to catch and rectify errors. 
  • Easy to use, custom modeling that can drive business decisions.
  • Budgeting and rolling forecasts, as well as what-if scenario planning.
  • Benchmarking and KPI tracking across the organization. 
  • Variance analysis.

#2 — Vena Software 

Vena is similar to Adaptive Planning but at a slightly lower price point, and Vena lives right within Excel. You can use Vena for budgeting, forecasting, and various analyses. Its strongest advantage is the ability to collaborate across departments so that every business leader can better understand the motivation behind their allocated budgets. 

Vena is popular among FP&A managers as it offers useful tools like variance analysis and BvA capabilities. It resembles Excel, which can reduce the required learning curve and enable teams to build models easily. Unlike Adaptive Planning, Vena is relatively foolproof: even if budget owners make errors, it’s not possible to inadvertently break the tool. 

Vena does have its downsides. For one, it can be really slow: loading a large amount of data to the grid can take literally minutes. Moreover, adoption, implementation, and ongoing adaptation require a significant investment of time and money. Setting up Vena Solutions is cumbersome, and there aren’t very many support resources available. Teams need to invest considerable time in training or self-education or rely on their customer support teams, which suffer a less than stellar reputation. However, with the help of a consultant, these hurdles can be overcome. 

vena solutions
Vena

Key Features

  • Projections and planning.
  • Variance analysis.
  • Integration with Salesforce, Quickbooks, Intacct and others.
  • What-if scenario and long-term financial planning.
  • Track KPIs and benchmarks in dashboards.
  • Forecasting. 

Use Cases

  • Business process automation through workflows.
  • Ability to drill down into the history of a spreadsheet to determine which changes have been made and by whom (for compliance purposes).
  • Advanced modeling.
  • Visual dashboards to track performance.

#3 — Planful

Planful is a cloud-based financial planning and modeling tool. Unlike Workday Adaptive Planning, OnPlan, and Vena, it’s primarily aimed at enterprise-level organizations with a great deal of expertise. It’s most similar to Anaplan and very complex, which means that implementation can take several months. It’s more affordable than Vena or Workday Adaptive Planning but not as user-friendly as OnPlan. 

Planful aims to improve productivity and speed across the enterprise, making it a good fit for companies that want to become more agile in their decision-making. Once companies are up and running, they can eliminate manual processes, conduct ad hoc analyses, and ultimately decrease their time to close considerably. On the downside, it does require considerable training, and certification requires in-person training that is not available in all markets. 

Planful
Planful

Key Features

  • Long-term budgeting 
  • Forecasting and reporting
  • Enterprise-wide collaboration across departments.
  • Sales planning
  • Visual analytics 
  • Scorecards
  • Budget hierarchies 
  • Versioning
  • Data Imports

Use Cases

  • Financial performance management.
  • Workforce planning.
  • Consolidation and reporting. 

#4 — Anaplan

Anaplan, like Planful, is a cloud-based service aimed at enterprise-level organizations. Anaplan offers straightforward, logic-driven modeling and forecasting solutions that enable secure and flexible planning and scenario testing within a secure environment. 

It’s scalable and adaptable, promoting feedback and financial conversation across the entire organization to improve overall business performance and collaboration. However, unlike OnPlan, Workday Adaptive Planning, and Vena, Anaplan steers away from conventional financial language and tools, using its own proprietary language. While Anaplan experts find the tool easy to use, very few financial professionals can jump in and get started with Anaplan without considerable training and support. 

The initial setup can take several months, and there is a lengthy learning curve that could cause some frustration for users, but once teams are familiar with the tool, it can speed up processes considerably. Given Anaplan’s enterprise focus, it can be price-prohibitive for small and medium-sized companies.

alternatives for adaptive planning anaplan
Anaplan

Key Features

  • Model building and replication.
  • Performance tracking dashboards.
  • Scenario building
  • Versioning
  • Calculation Engine for complex scenario planning.

Use Cases

  • A real-time cloud-based analytics platform.
  • Forecasting, planning, budgeting.
  • Cross-team collaboration. 

Final Word

What should you look for in a financial planning and modeling tool? Flexibility and adaptability are key to running scenarios and modifying different analyses. Get the most out of your models for both the analytics and the business leaders they report to and collaborate with. 

It needs excellent performance, reliability, and speed, as well as user-friendliness and innovative features that accelerate your work so you can focus less on the mechanics of your financial model and more on using it to make informed decisions. You also need a tool that is easy to set up, use, and maintain to facilitate the tool’s adoption among the staff. 

When you choose your new FP&A solution, look at your unique requirements and the advantages and disadvantages of each to find the best possible fit. 

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Ed note: Want to dive deeper into essential FP&A topics? Check out OnPlan’s most popular posts of all time here:

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About Author
Uri Kogan

Uri Kogan leads marketing and go to market strategy at OnPlan. Uri brings experience as a B2B SaaS marketing executive at a number of high-growth companies, including Nuxeo, where he created a new category of Product Asset Management, leading to a 12x ARR exit, and AppZen, where he led AppZen’s entry into the AP market and served as interim CMO. Earlier in his career, Uri led software marketing teams, incubated new services products, executed turnarounds, and led award-winning global supply chain initiatives at HP. Uri holds a B.A. in economics and a B. Music in opera performance from Northwestern University, and an MBA from Kellogg.

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