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DATA & ANALYTICS BLOG

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IBM Planning Analytics vs Anaplan: The Pros & Cons

Posted by LPA Software Solutions on Dec 28, 2020 10:44:17 AM

As a buyer of Financial Analytics software, you have been through an extended research process – cool demos, exciting features and compelling sales presentations. But when all the excitement dies down, your focus must be on how each vendor’s solution suits your business needs.

Financial analytics goes beyond automating spreadsheets. At the least, your ideal solution should offer:

  • Multi-cube architecture for greater flexibility
  • In memory calculation engines for better performance
  • A sparsity engine for handling enterprise level data volumes

If you’re looking for the right Financial Analytics software, you are likely comparing IBM Planning Analytics/TM1 and Anaplan. Comparing the features and functions of these two software products will help inform your decision.

Overview of IBM Planning Analytics 

Thinking woman in glasses looking up with light idea bulb above head isolated on gray wall backgroundIBM Planning Analytics is a solution with cloud based deployment, made for organizations of all sizes and all industries. It boasts powerful automation in the discovery of actionable insights and supports core organizational processes such as budgeting, planning, score carding, and forecasting.

IBM Planning Analytics is built on IBM’s OLAP engine (powered IBM TM1), and provides users access to self-service analytics. It includes multi-dimensional modeling for additional flexibility in finance team operations. Financial operations are bolstered by planning tools, which uncover predictive insights to steer business decision making.

Additionally, users can get better results in planning, forecasting, and budgeting through meticulous ‘what if’ scenario testing capability. IBM Planning Analytics also includes rapid and customizable deployment, usability, and quick-start templates for different business needs. Other than the dashboard based UI, IBM provides for interfaces with MS Excel, which helps to complement existing workflows implemented there.

Overview of Anaplan: What Is Anaplan?

Anaplan is a platform that developed a hub to facilitate collaborative planning and operational implementation.  Anaplan boasts advanced data collection and easy modelling capabilities – any person can engage with the plans and models from anywhere, at any time, and on any device.

Anaplan has a unified platform which facilitates cross functional planning and delivers distributed, ground-level expertise on corporate plans. It includes basic visualization and statistical analysis capabilities, although there is no reporting on the platform.

Performance Overview

Anaplan selling points are high level speed and customization, which allows the software to be useful for a range of business applications. A common use case includes adjusting forecasts and viewing end result financial reports, but it has also been applied to clinical trials. However, you may enjoy the same flexibility as Excel, and use can be limited based on the constraints that you set. Ad-hoc reporting is challenging, but planned reports can be manufactured to suit various needs.

IBM Planning Analytics provides fast access to on-premise and cloud-based financial data, which is ideal for end-month or end-year reporting. GL updates are quickly reflected in manufactured reports, which makes it suitable for BL and PL reporting. However, it does not suit storage of large amounts of granular data, e.g. retail transaction info. Its OLAP data structure works against this kind of data, which needs more relational databases.

Pros

The following are the most noteworthy advantages of IBM Planning Analytics/TM1:

  • Flexibility – IBM Planning Analytics/TM1 can calculate and display real time changes. Business process changes and growing data complexity can quickly be incorporated into the tool for more valuable insights.
  • Built in Data Analysisrobust tools uncover deep insights through a web interface, MS Excel and IBM Cognos Analytics; useful for companies without in-house data scientists or analysts.
  • Native Write Back – facilitates simple and integrated forecasting, budgeting, and what if scenario analysis.
  • Development Support – IBM is constantly improving their product and working on integrations with adjacent IBM software such as SPSS, Cognos Analytics, and Watson Analytics Studio.
  • One Stop Shop – IBM Planning Analytics/TM1 is more than a simple planning tool, it includes a suite of solutions to support all analytics operations, available on the cloud or on premise. There is no need to export data to any other tool, you have all necessary functionality in this platform.

Anaplan offers the following advantages to users:

  • Version Control – having a single cloud based source creates a single source of truth, eliminating questions regarding the data points to use for various needs.
  • Collaboration – hundreds of users can log on and update information simultaneously, which is useful for account based planning implementation.
  • Flexibility – shuttles between being formal and providing the flexibility of real time updates.

Cons Analytics Concept. Button on Modern Computer Keyboard with Word Analytics on It.

IBM Planning Analytics/TM1 limitations:

  • The web interface is a bit outdated compared with other web technologies, but IBM is working on improving this.
  • IBM has not yet integrated IBM Planning Analytics with other analytics products such as Salesforce or Microsoft BI.

Anaplan’s limitations include:

  • Performance – as the size and complexity of the Anaplan deployment increase, the performance issues begin; even simple manipulations will take longer.
  • Limited Scalability – Anaplan does not perform well when you have over five dimensions of sparse data. It must be adapted for sparsity first
  • User Interface – while great, some improvement to the interface is still necessary to make it more intuitive for common manipulations
  • Security – security user roles still need some review and enhancement

Usability

IBM Planning Analytics/TM1 is a powerful tool, but this does not get in the way of usability for end users. Its high speed and customizable engine can perform both simple and complex business calculations. The user interface is intuitive with simple icons, buttons, and click driven menus.

Anaplan is relatively easy to use, but there is a caveat: users will need to invest the time to learn the ins and outs of the platform and its applications for your business use cases. After the learning curve, most people find Anaplan easy to use.

Pricing Comparison

The cost of Financial Analytics software includes the licensing fees, software training costs, hardware investment, subscription fees, customization costs, as well as the cost of services, maintenance and support. These come together to make up the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), which is the real cost of any software product.

IBM Planning Analytics’ pricing is based on company size, needs, and other parameters. IBM Planning Analytics/TM1 is available as a on-premise deployment or as a SaaS offering, making it ideal for businesses of all sizes. Demos/ trials are available upon request.

Anaplan offers premium consulting and integration services, with an optional entry-level set-up fee. Clients must contact Anaplan to receive a custom quote based on their needs and use cases.

Summary

IBM Planning Analytics/TM1 and Anaplan are powerful and user friendly software products suitable for financial analytics in various departments. They are available in various versions according to the size and business use case needed, including small-to-medium-sized business analytics.

IBM Planning Analytics/TM1 has a considerable edge over its counterpart Anaplan, owing to the fact that it is designed to ensure high performance in all use cases, especially enterprise level data. The all in one platform with reporting supports businesses without in house data science or analytics capability. Finally, the intuitive interface of IBM Planning Analytics has powerful back end analytics capability that is suitable for users of all kinds.

Whichever software product you choose, it's critical to define your business needs and how your software solution meets them.

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Topics: Planning Analytics, Financial Performance Management