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Joel Kirkland from Focus on WD interviews Peter Philpott, about the concept of Active Planning and Why Workday® bought Adaptive Insights
Peter is a strategic planning and business consultant with 25 years of experience covering software companies, changing technologies and the strategic requirements of small-medium, large and global companies. Peter has also focused on the specific needs of CFO's and CEO's with regard to the impact of software systems.
JK: What is Active Planning?
PP: Workday® acquired Adaptive Insights to enable CFOs to provide strategic support to CEOs by linking strategy and execution (corporate-wide).
Adaptive Insights provides a technology platform enabling rich, forward-looking insights from finance so the company can manage risks, spot new opportunities, and withstand economic shocks and volatility.
So Active Planning is part of a process of alignment and the harnessing of big data providing well informed data driven agility. However, its value to the CFO and CEO is only truly realised with their buy-in and sponsorship supporting the necessary behavioural and cultural change across the organisation.
JK : Planning has been around for ever – how is this different?
PP: Active Planning is not tweaking the reporting and analytics capability of Financial Management ERP systems or simply the replacement of current Static Planning systems typically driven by spreadsheets – just to provide more reliable and faster static budgeting and forecasting.
Active Planning is definitely not just technology – it is People, Process and Technology.
Where Static Planning is top-down, siloed, slow, and limited. Active Planning is collaborative, continuous, and comprehensive.
There’s no meaningful boundary to Active Planning. Anywhere there is transactional data, customer insight or operational information that is of material impact to the overall business plan, it can be a useful node in the wider planning landscape.
The ultimate goal should be to make Active Planning an organizational culture rather than a compartmentalized activity.*
JK: What has made Adaptive Insights so successful?
PP: It puts the CFO and Finance function in control of their own destiny.
JK: How is that success defined?
PP: As with Workday® Financial Management and Workday® HR, Adaptive Insights is a Gartner Magic Quadrant leader, it is “cloud born” (architected from the outset solely as a cloud service) and has extremely high customer satisfaction levels for product functionality and service.
JK: What makes it special in the planning marketplace?
PP: It has over 4,500 customers globally and a demonstrable Active Planning customer base with over 100 case studies running Active Planning and constantly evolving solutions – driven by their finance functions.
It is capable of offering all the inherent benefits of a cloud-born solution including the flexibility of end user access, scalability and ease of maintenance.
It is uniquely positioned to provide an Active Planning platform because it is collaborative, comprehensive and continuous. “Ease of use” means it is adopted collaboratively across the organisation. “Comprehensive functionality and flexibility” means it can be used to model and plan all aspects of the business as they grow and change. “Continuous” means it can iterate and update quickly with a rapid time to value.
So it is not just a point solution. It really is an Active Planning platform. It can let Finance be in control of asking and delivering on the question – “What’s Next on the Active Planning journey?”
JK: What presence does Adaptive Insights have in the UK?
PP: The product was initially sold into the UK via partners, starting in 2008, and there are now over 300 customers in the UK.
The Workday® takeover has been a game changer for Adaptive in the UK.
The EMEA team was based out of the UK - comprising Direct Sales, Partners, Support, Marketing, Implementation Services and Administration. This now forms the Workday® Planning Business Unit.
Workday® Planning has a partner Ecosystem – Solution Providers, Service Partners, Software Partners and a Partner Marketplace. This Ecosystem is designed to enhance the customer experience and provide the most appropriate domain expertise for customers.
JK: How do customers use Adaptive Insights?
PP: There are exceptions but on balance the more advanced Active Planning implementations are in the US where currently the more strategic SI partners have supported the sort of Transformation and Integration consultancy required for strategic Active Planning implementations.
Many UK implementations have been positioned and sold as spreadsheet replacement budgeting, forecasting and planning solutions – dramatically increasing reliability of data and drastically reducing reporting and shortening timeframes – however, these are typical Static Planning applications and the drive within Workday® Planning is to take the customer base to the levels of Active Planning seen in the US and beyond.
JK: What are the typical implementation styles and what resources are required?
PP: Typical implementations of spreadsheet replacement systems (Static Planning) have an elapse time of 8-12 weeks and require 15-25 man days of consulting covering – Scoping, Model Design, Model Build, Data Import/Integration, Documentation, Training and Parallel Running. Skill sets required for these implementations include; project management, system architecture and implementation – typically at a power spreadsheet level for administrators and standard spreadsheet skills for users.
Implementation profiles include total outsourcing, in-house development and a joint approach – the latter being most popular and preferred – as customers can then maintain and develop/evolve applications.
Full e-training is available and full accreditation programs are mandatory for partners.
Strategic transformation and integration skills are among those required for full Active Planning projects and these are typically already serviced in the UK by; Workday®, SI consultancies and/or contract and permanent Workday® Recruiters such as Focus on WD. Advanced Active Planning implementations can also provide the platform for essential expertise including; data scientists, statisticians, data security professionals, behavioural scientists and robotists.
It’s crucial to win the support of functional business units when making the move to Active Planning—it needs to be carefully pitched, rather than mandated. That’s because the transition usually requires some kind of behavioural change and humans resist any disruption to their established habits unless they can see a clear benefit.*
JK: What is the rationale behind the Adaptive Insights acquisition by Workday®?
PP: The cloud has instigated a 4th industrial revolution. Successful software companies are now focused on customer satisfaction and are striving to provide a focused and targeted “customer experience” rather than a one size fits all software stack. Too many CFOs have been pushed to acquire unwanted mediocre software that becomes shelf-ware, just in the name of one-stop-shopping.
The cloud has provided a “post-modern” environment where customers can select the best tool for “their job” – developing more federated looking coupled cloud services.
JK: What does the future hold?
PP: Adaptive Insights represents a “best in class” planning option for customers and needs the capacity to be data source agnostic to operate most effectively. As a true cloud born company, ongoing commitment to this principle is in Workday®’s DNA.
Workday® is also aware of the quick wins CFOs will gain in the critical Active Planning space by adopting Adaptive Insights. Replacing legacy systems in this area will often be higher on the CFOs agenda because enterprise organisations need to address the immediate threats of massive disruption in their markets. However, Workday® also knows that when the CFO is re-evaluating ERP transaction systems, being supplier of an extremely successful mission critical Active Planning system will put Workday® on a more even footing with incumbent ERP vendors.
Workday® describe their single vendor option as being the “Power of One”. Some CFOs have had bad experiences from Oracle and SAP offering “one-stop-shopping” and Workday® needs to continue basing their “power-of-one” on genuine “best in class” cloud components rather than offering the customer single vendor benefits at the cost of “mediocrity” wrapped up within diverse product suites.
*Reference to Rob Hull’s book, “Plan to Win”
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