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Best Anaplan Alternatives for Financial Planning & Modeling

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Anaplan Solutions Alternatives

Looking for Anaplan alternatives? We’re here to help.

Business units simply can’t afford to work in functional silos anymore. Strategically-minded business leaders want insight into the financial health of their organization, including detailed information related to financial forecasting and analytics that can inform their decision-making. 

Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A) managers need insight into the business’s past, present, and future performance to support this mindset. They need to convey the information and data with the right context and narrative to help decision-makers spot opportunities and anticipate threats. 

FP&A forms the strategic heart of every organization, so using the right FP&A tool is so important. 

Anaplan is one of many solutions used by financial departments for modeling and forecasting. It states that its primary goal is to connect people with data and plans. It’s cloud-based and highly adaptable, making it suitable for an enterprise environment. Once Anaplan is set up, it can save considerable time and effort through straightforward, auditable, and logic-driven modeling within a flexible, secure environment. 

there are a lot of anaplan alternatives on the market that can provide what you expect from an FP&A solution
Anaplan

Users praise Anaplan for its collaborative and participative approach to financial planning, with a strong emphasis on feedback. Customer support is very good, and training is thorough. So why consider the alternatives? 

Unfortunately, Anaplan has its downsides, primarily in terms of user-friendliness. If you already have an Anaplan veteran in your department, it will be easy to use, and you’ll realize the benefits quite quickly. If your organization isn’t familiar with Anaplan, prepare to spend considerable time on training and adaptation.

Anaplan doesn’t use a familiar spreadsheet format or languages like OnPlan, Vena, or Adaptive Planning. Instead, Anaplan has its own unique, proprietary language, which very few financial executives have encountered before. Setup and onboarding can take months and months, and companies will need the support of an Anaplan consultant to get started. 

It’s also prohibitively expensive for midmarket companies.

Suppose you need to hit the ground running and realize the benefit of your FP&A solution sooner rather than later. In that case, Anaplan is not a good fit for your business, which is why you might want to investigate the alternatives. 

Disadvantages of Using Anaplan

As mentioned, Anaplan is best for use within an enterprise environment. This doesn’t mean that small or medium-sized businesses won’t benefit from using Anaplan, but chances are it won’t be the best possible solution for your needs. Let’s look at a few of the disadvantages associated with Anaplan: 

Limitations in its application

Anaplan focuses on use cases outside FP&A and Supply Chain, making it overly complex for users who want a specialized tool. It’s also best suited to standardized units, departments, or products that require collaboration among multiple people, like forecasting as a stress analysis in a volatile environment. Anaplan is less suitable for companies with unclear business processes, as you need to define this before implementation, or unstructured data processes, due to data sizing constraints. 

Time commitment 

Anaplan requires a significant time commitment from business users who have to guide the implementation and end-users who have to invest time learning, implementing, and testing the solution for several weeks. 

Lag

While speed isn’t a widely reported issue, too many users working on the same model can lead to reduced performance in saving data inputs. Structural changes (including updating formulas) can take several minutes to save if multiple processes are concurrently running within the same model. It can be difficult to execute structural changes if more than one model builder works within Anaplan.

Size constraints

Anaplan has size constraints, which can prove challenging. The size constraints can be overcome by building models with flat logic, making the models overly complicated to implement and difficult to adopt. This can also impact security. 

Complexity and Adoption

Successful implementation of Anaplan takes a considerable amount of time and resources. While Anaplan’s ability to forecast at a granular level is impressive, it’s also a disadvantage as the detail can lead to models that are overly complex to adopt and difficult to maintain. 

Alternatives to Anaplan

In summary, Anaplan is a solid tool for enterprises to use but has several concerning disadvantages, including: 

  • Limitations in its application, especially for companies with unstructured data or business processes;
  • Requires a considerable time commitment to learn and implement;
  • Slow speeds during concurrent usage;
  • Size constraints that can impact usability and even security;
  • Complexity, which can hinder adoption. 

Anaplan is a suitable solution for companies with advanced Anaplan users within their financial and business teams that are not subject to time or resource constraints. If you need something less complex and more scalable, you should consider one of the alternatives. 

#1 —OnPlan 

OnPlan is a financial modeling tool that allows companies to forecast and budget for greater transparency and effective benchmarking across various business functions. It’s suited to SMBs and midmarket companies with 25-500 employees. 

OnPlan integrates with many other applications, including your existing Excel or Google Sheets financial model and key operational and financial data found in Quickbooks, Intacct, Netsuite, Salesforce, Hubspot, etc. You can easily implement Excel formulas and prepare forecasts shared in easy-to-digest spreadsheet formats. This reduces the learning and adoption curve so that teams can get started right away, with a far lower risk of errors. What-if scenario planning allows businesses to evaluate business opportunities and threats thoroughly. 

OnPlan reduces the time between adoption and value realization through predefined apps for key use cases like headcount planning, opex and capex planning, the three financial statements, and more. Users can organize content in a simplified and logical manner using long text notes, formulas, and dropdowns. 

collaboration in onplan
OnPlan

Administrator-driven permission management strictly controls data.

The FP&A team can use variance analysis to create rolling forecasts and compare in- and outputs across various scenarios with powerful charting features. 

Whereas Anaplan uses its own language and unique proprietary setup, OnPlan is about leveraging financial professionals’ familiarity with Excel and spreadsheets. This reduces the learning curve and accelerates adoption. 

OnPlan has all of the benefits of a consumer app, including speed and ease of use, so that users can enjoy a seamless, reliable experience with a modern and pleasant user interface. 

Features include powerful visualization tools, one-click roll-over, and fast, easy collaboration. Teams can export, modify, and manipulate Excel and Google Sheets data.

Key Features 

  • Onboard users in less than a week. 
  • Live-chat support. 
  • Integration with most modern apps, including Xero, Zapier, Google Analytics, Salesforce, etc. 
  • Compare budgets and actuals with the budget variance analysis tool.
  • What-if scenario planning features.
  • Conduct variance analysis to locate excessive spending and errors across the organization.
  • Easy sync changes without copy/paste required.
  • Robust charts and intuitive, predefined dashboards and templates.
  • Logical, contextualized modeling.
  • Batch change capabilities.
  • Permission management for greater control. 
  • Access monthly, quarterly, and yearly summaries with a click.

Use Cases

  • Custom modeling for relevant, data-driven decision-making.
  • Build budgets and rolling forecasts. 
  • What-If scenario planning. 
  • Opportunity testing
  • Benchmarking
  • KPIs and business reporting. 
  • Variance analyses
  • Budget vs. actuals 

#2 — Vena Software 

Vena Solutions can manage annual budgets and conduct monthly, yearly or quarterly forecasts, analyses, and actuals. Business leaders use Vena collaboratively to gain insight into their budgets, while FP&A managers can use the tool for variance analysis or gain a centralized, single view over the financial operations of the business. 

Like OnPlan, the tool closely resembles and is integrated with Excel, making it easy to use and simple to adopt. Companies can use Vena to build models and manage their workbooks without worrying about errors creeping in. 

On the downside, Vena is difficult to set up and use initially. There aren’t many support resources available for self-education, which means that you will spend a considerable amount of time on the phone with customer support. You may need a consultant to assist you during the implementation phase. 

vena anaplan alternatives
Vena

Key Features

  • Variance analysis
  • Reporting
  • Integration with common business apps.
  • Cash flow projections
  • What-if scenario planning.
  • Dashboards/scorecards for KPI monitoring.
  • Forecasting from historical data.

Use Cases

  • Create custom workflows to automate business processes like reviews, budget routing, and approvals.
  • Control data access and drill down to the history of a spreadsheet to track errors.
  • Growth engine for advanced modeling and analytics.
  • Visual dashboard for KPI display.

#3 — Adaptive Planning 

Adaptive Planning is a cloud-based financial planning tool used to model various business functions. The features are very similar to OnPlan, but it’s considerably more expensive. Adaptive Planning resembles an Excel spreadsheet and uses drag-and-drop functionality to edit and change views, making it extremely simple to adopt and use. 

Adaptive Planning enables collaboration and real-time updates across the organization. It integrates with multiple popular cloud-based ERP solutions. On the downside, Adaptive Planning is pricier than some comparable solutions (OnPlan is about 15% of its asking price), and implementation is difficult. The user interface isn’t as simple and attractive as Anaplan and OnPlan, and it can feel quite dated for modern users. 

Some users find the learning and initial setup time-consuming and frustrating. 

adaptive planning anaplan
Adaptive Planning

Key Features

  • Long-term budgeting and forecasting.
  • Ability to personalize and share reports as required.
  • Integration with ERP apps and multiple tools, including Salesforce, Intacct, and Microsoft Dynamics.
  • Scorecards and benchmarking.

Use Cases

  • Workforce planning (like headcount, compensation).
  • Production planning and scheduling.
  • Inventory management
  • Statistical volume forecasting
  • Create a data hub to maintain lists for simple, productive collaboration.

#4 — Planful

Planful is another strong, cloud-based financial modeling tool suitable for large organizations with more than a thousand employees. The tool provides data that enables business-wide agile planning and decision-making. 

Planful is similar to Anaplan, but users have reported performance issues when using larger datasets. Data integration and setup can take several months to perfect. It’s considerably cheaper than the likes of Vena Software, but it’s not as user-friendly as OnPlan, with fewer automation options. 

planful anaplan alternatives
Planful

Key Features

  • Long-term budgeting and forecasting.
  • Consolidation features. 
  • Reporting
  • Real-time updates.
  • Enterprise-wide collaboration across departments.
  • Sales and workforce planning.

Use Cases

  • Self-service reporting and customization.
  • Improved collaboration across business units. 
  • Business intelligence and performance monitoring and reporting.

Final Word

Anaplan is an innovative and powerful tool that many enterprises will find very useful. However, it’s not the most user-friendly or intuitive modeling tool. The complexity of the solution and the cost and resource requirements placed to make it a less feasible option for small and medium businesses. 

If you can invest the time and resources required into Anaplan, it’s a valuable tool that can genuinely transform financial modeling within your enterprise. If you operate an SMB or are looking for a straightforward financial modeling tool aimed specifically at FP&A managers, consider the alternatives instead. 

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