Thomas Sword

Is Your Organization Better Off with Anaplan vs One of the Anaplan Competitors? 

Is one of the Anaplan competitors right for your organization? 

Between now and 2031, the financial planning software market is set to more than quadruple in size. Whenever any industry experiences over 400% growth within a decade, you can anticipate many competitors entering such a fecund market. That may leave your organization spoiled for choice, which is good, but does make the evaluation process that much more difficult. 

To that end, we’ll be evaluating if your organization would be best served by partnering with Anaplan - one of the more dominant players in the market - or one of the Anaplan competitors. . A Gartner study

What Is Anaplan

Simply put, Anaplan is a business planning software company. 

Here’s how Anaplan describes itself on its website: “Anaplan is a market-leading, cloud-native, enterprise SaaS company, transforming how enterprises across industries see, plan, and drive business performance.”

With the Anaplan platform and software, you’ll be able to more easily carry out classic financial planning and analysis (FP&A) tasks as well as receive a variety of benefits to:

FP&A software is also adept at: 

  • Automating data collection

  • Consolidating financial data

  • Unlocking insights into your financial data that can be leverage to inform business critical decisions

Anaplan is a leader in this sector, and many enterprises opt to work with them as a result. 

That said, as mentioned above, the industry is experiencing a massive growth spurt. Mirroring the impressive growth projections for the market as a whole, the head of financial planning role is now the 13th fastest growing job in the US according to LinkedIn.

Why are we seeing such a growth in the market and in Anaplan alternatives? For the benefits of the best FP&A software, see further below. 

For now, we’ll continue with our evaluation of the Anaplan competitors available on the market currently and how they compare to Anaplan itself.

Anaplan Fact Sheet

Anaplan Market Share

  • 6.84%

Companies That Use Anaplan

  • Over 5,500

Average Client Size

  • 1,000 to 5,000 employees
  • Over $1.0 billion in revenue

Anaplan Market Cap

  • $9.59 billion

Number of Employees

  • Over 2,000

Why Businesses Use Anaplan

As your organization grows, adding more workers, clients, assets, etc., naturally, things inevitably become more complicated. 

Whereas formerly a few dozen spreadsheets could more or less provide a holistic view of all your financials, those days are long gone. Instead, you’re faced with hundreds, maybe even thousands of spreadsheets spread across teams (marketing, HR, sales, etc.). Combined, we’re staring down tens of thousands of individual rows and perhaps hundreds of thousands of individual cells. 

Using Excel to manage this trough of data is unwieldy at best, and at worst, impossible. 

The consequences are dire: your business could lose hundreds of hours to these legions of cells, or may be experiencing hundreds of thousands of dollars in hidden costs that are only revealed with the right FP&A software.

Anaplan and Anaplan alternatives operating in the FP&A space seek to provide a solution to these potentially growth-inhibiting issues. 

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While some FP&A providers seek to eliminate spreadsheets and instead design dashboards from the ground up that are more robust, functional, and intuitive than spreadsheets, others try to incorporate spreadsheets into their solution in one form or another. 

Anaplan opted to use what it calls ‘worksheets’ - it’s workaround that sustains some elements of spreadsheets while seeking to provide higher level functionality. 

Anaplan has three types of views on its platform: 

  • Worksheets (data tables)
  • Board pages (dashboards)
  • Reports (slides)

With these different tools, your organization can empower finance teams to organize, analyze, and collaborate with one another when dealing with financial data. 

You’re able to draw said data from across the organization, not just the finance team. You’ll get real-time updates from the:

  • Accounting
  • Human resources
  • Marketing
  • Sales

And other teams, in addition to working off what your financial team has at the ready. 

This consolidation is critical to FP&A software of all types (including the Anaplan alternatives) as this allows organizations to eliminate silos and collate data from multiple sources, ensuring that all future decisions are data-driven and can leverage analytics to better inform them. 

In short: make more accurate decisions faster with the most accurate data. 

That’s the FP&A promise - and Anaplan delivers. 

That said, does Anaplan do so better than the Anaplan competitors? 

That’s not so certain. 

Where Anaplan Excels . . . and Where It Falls Short to Anaplan Alternatives

Anaplan is adept at helping organizations get a handle on massive data sets. 

It achieves this via a number of impressive features, including:

  • In-memory processing - models are loaded into memory so they can be modified with a multiple variables and dependencies without constraint
  • Scenario planning - “what-if” planning, a critical part of any FP&A software, allowing your organization to account for business fluctuations and develop contingencies
  • Forecasting - predictive insights relating to the future market conditions, trends, etc.
  • Workflow enhancement - automate the collection of data and other repetitive tasks, speeding up FP&A workflows
  • Compensation modeling - determine how employee pay changes will impact financials
  • Data hub - cybersecurity solutions protecting the data leveraged in scenario planning, what-if scenario analysis, etc.
  • Anaplan integrations - can integrate with a variety of ERPs) making for a smoother implementation with your existing systems

    Anaplan is generally celebrated for its:

  • Ability to support a variety of devices (mobile, desktop) with ease
  • Cloud-ready platform - use from anywhere
  • The ability to customize the platform to fit your needs
  • Security
  • Computation capabilities enabled by The Hyperblock® which enables complex, multi-faceted, multi-scenario modeling.

Anaplan is generally criticized for its:

One survey found that Anaplan has a NPS score of -38 - which more or less means that the respondents to that survey would not recommend it to others.

So where does their frustration stem from? 

Some issues reported with Anaplan include:

  • Adoption issues, as it is considered a difficult platform to learn and use
  • Larger capacity models pushing the limits of the computation capabilities (which is worrisome - the computation aspect is among Anaplan’s highest selling points)
  • Custom workflows are often difficult to create
  • Reports weren’t always able to meet the needs of users, causing them to create reports externally 
  • Anaplan’s difficulty can be so burdensome for some that they resort to hiring Anaplan consultants, which can become very expensive very fast
  • Potentially long implementation time, which can take several months, and worse yet, this can run your business well beyond six figures

Anaplan vs Power BI

Some may consider Power BI to be a viable alternative to Anaplan. But it’s important to note that the Anaplan vs Power BI question isn’t pertinent here, as the two fill largely different functions. 

BI tools are descriptive - they may describe a current or past state, but they are not designed to enable the user to see into the causes of said numbers and perform more in-depth analyses beyond visualizations. Furthermore, BI products can’t help gather or consolidate data, especially for budgeting, planning, and forecasting. Power BI financial modeling, for instance, is known to be troublesome. 

In other words, it’s not fair to consider Power BI as a true alternative to Anaplan. See here for more on FP&A vs Power BI.

Anaplan Pricing

You’ll probably pay far more than $50,000 for your annual Anaplan fees - and it can far exceed that. 

Coupled with expensive implementation costs, and you can expect to shell out upwards of $250,000 when all is said and done in the first year. 

For many larger companies that need a robust FP&A solution, that price may well be worth it. 

But, for most medium-sized companies that aren’t quite at that enterprise level, this price can be a bridge too far. 

Consider that many of the best strategic workforce planning software can be acquired at a substantially reduced price while providing a host of superior functionality compared to Anaplan; that in mind, for many medium-sized businesses, the Anaplan alternatives are probably your best bet. 

Medium-Sized Businesses, Opt for Anaplan Alternatives

It’s difficult to make generalized proclamations like “Anaplan is always good for these businesses and always bad for others” - it simply doesn’t work like that. 

Each business is unique and has its own unique set of challenges and needs. That said, Anaplan has a very specific selling point: its robust size and high-level computing capabilities. 

Frankly, if you’re a mid-sized business, you likely don't need that extra functionality. And you’ll pay a hoard for it and the system itself will be difficult to grasp.

You’re far better off going for an Anaplan competitor, one that can provide all of the FP&A solutions you need (and potentially even in a superior form compared to Anaplan) while you save thousands of dollars per year by not paying for what you don’t need. 

In other words, get a more cost-effective deal with many of the smaller Anaplan competitors. 

These other FP&A solutions often:

  • Provide more value for your investment 
  • Have superior customer service
  • Have higher functionality 
  • Higher customization options
  • More robust platforms that allow you to upgrade beyond spreadsheets

One such Anaplan competitor we’d like you to consider that has all the above and more is Limelight Software. 

If you’re a medium-sized business, there is no better FP&A software solution than Limelight to help your business manage all its FP&A needs.

Our platform excels at ensuring all your budgeting, forecasting, planning, and analysis needs are addressed and completed faster - and more accurately - than ever. With our powerful platform backing your business, you can save thousands of hours and uncover hundreds of thousands in hidden costs, reduce budget reviews, and otherwise give you your time back. 

Save money, get a more comprehensive picture of your business’s financial health, plan and forecast easier - do it all with Limelight. Book a demo to see the platform in action and learn how it can help your business thrive.