Considering Anaplan or looking for alternatives? Learn more about your options below.
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.
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?
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In summary, Anaplan is a solid tool for enterprises to use but has several concerning disadvantages, including:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I really love the user interface, modularity, and power of the platform. It makes a very complex process much easier to manage. I love the fact it tracks your updates so you can see people’s thinking at various points in time.
Head of FP&A, Redbubble
OnPlan gives me peace of mind which in itself is worth the price. I don’t have to worry about version control or someone inadvertently corrupting a calculation in our model. I “fly” ImplantBase using OnPlan as my instrument panel, it tells me how fast I can go and how close I am to the treetops. Crucially, it allows us to more quickly get to the answers we need.
OnPlan is our go-to source for key operational data. It puts key information at our executives’ fingertips so we can make faster and better data driven decisions. OnPlan has helped eliminate hours of manual labor and allows us to create tailored dashboards that can be shared with key stakeholders across the company.
VP of Finance, Welkin Health
We have regularly hit our numbers since moving to OnPlan. I now have confidence in our forecast, and our Board members are much happier. The direct integration with Quickbooks saves us a ton of time. But the two critical issues it has solved is making sure we don’t run out of cash, and having a trustworthy forecast that we can base decision making on.
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