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Budgeting and Long Term Planning in Professional Services
Employing more than 1.500 people in Belgium, PwC provides
industry-focused audit, tax and consulting services to build public
trust and enhance value to clients and their stakeholders in domains
like: Audit & assurance, Family business, People & Organization,
Tax services, Consulting, Legal, Private Business and M&A.
Being first in class and delivering such a variety
of services requires well-tuned performance management processes
relying on technology that is able to handle important amounts of data,
with sufficient response times and with a minimum of manual
intervention. But, let’s not forget scalability and flexibility.
At PwC Belgium, SAP BPC was the main system used for planning and
forecasting, but given the complexity involved in calculating detailed
HR plans, the calculation part was often still executed by
Microsoft Excel formula’s. As a result, SAP BPC sometimes served more
like a database instead of a calculation engine to support the planning
process. The key user had to split the same process in numerous Excel
files to maintain acceptable speed and overview.
Flexibility was also an issue, as you need expert knowledge for SAP BPC
administration tasks like adding or changing dimensions. You also need
to master the SAP BPC script logic language to change cost allocation
methods. If you had to change an existing formula, the change needed to
be replicated in every similar excel file.
"We were immediately impressed by the ease of use
of Anaplan during the demo” said Sandy Aers, CFO at PwC Belgium. The
fact that anyone could build a simple model from scratch in a matter of
minutes opened up new possibilities to explore. And after the
enthusiastic reference from Brussels Airlines, we were reassured that
Anaplan would also be able to deliver more complex planning models.
Preferably, Anaplan projects are implemented in a
coaching & co-development approach together with the lead consultant. In such a
collaboration modus, customers are encouraged to co-build as much
functionality as possible, supported by experienced modelers, by
gradually building up complexity. This allows users to be able to
independently build and maintain their models after the initial
At PwC, two separate models have been built on the cloud workspace. One
for budgeting and forecasting and another for long term planning.
The Long Term Plan contains 3
years of historical data used as a basis for the calculation of the 5
future years. The end user can choose which version of the historical
data will be used as basis.
The PwC Anaplan users can add or change their assumptions using dashboards and see
the immediate impact on the Income Statement and Key Performance
Indicators. This process was previously managed in Excel, and now
entirely integrated in Anaplan so it can be easily updated by the
budgeting and forecasting model.
In the Budgeting model, all the
HR related calculations are included. Those were previously managed in
Excel after which the data was sent to SAP BPC. Now Anaplan performs
these calculations in real time, and that there’s no need to wait for
the data load or refresh process.
Considering the very short implementation cycle and easy data
manipulation, PwC took the advantage to plan on a more detailed level and
introduced some other interesting functionality like planning on
Project level, similar to work breakdown structures where the data rolls
up to Managers, Directors, across Operating Unit, Accounts and
For each step in the process, element61 built dashboards available on a
sliding panel which can be adjusted per user-role, so each user clearly
seas actions to be completed for his cycle. Despite the fact that this
project has been implemented during a period where PwC controllers had
to be available for several software implementation projects at the same
time, the project was delivered on time, in budget and exceeding
Secrets of success
The right combination of software solution
and implementation partner selected made the new Budgeting and Long Term
Plan-project a success at PwC Belgium.
Anaplan is a solution that allows the user to get started in a very short timeframe because it has preconfigured Time and Version dimensions. In no
time, a user has its main setup ready. Additionally, there is nothing to
worry about in terms of hardware, installation or scalability issues,
as Anaplan is a full cloud solution.
The solution also allows for a very agile development approach. You can
literally work with a somewhat Trial and Error approach, without getting
stuck because you forgot something initially or messed up something
along the way. Less time needs to go to the initial requirements phase,
you just start building models based on customer input and user
stories. The software is really forgiving along the path of model
It’s also very scalable. Starting from small models, up to huge
multidimensional models with large lists of products, cost centers and
accounts and this without any impact on the calculation speed.
Also nice is that Anaplan comes with new features each quarter. Other
software would require experts to upgrade each time to a newer version,
while with Anaplan you just get an e-mail that the Anaplan workspace has
upgraded to a new release. Finally, the application really is in the
hands of the business. Even
your IT department is freed from the burden to urgently solve
infrastructure or operating systems software-linked problems. These are
obviously all advantages linked to cloud-based solutions.
Also the partner choice contributed to project success. element61 was
Anaplan’s first Belgian implementation partner, already since 2014, and
is devoted to making every implementation a success story for the
customer. Focusing on agile implementation methodologies and best
practices in business and financial modelling by certified Anaplan
Consultants, element61 already has a series of successful Anaplan
implementations realized including Brussel Airlines, Stepstone and PwC