Accenture & Anaplan, Maximising Value by Embracing Change

Accenture & Anaplan, Maximising Value by Embracing Change

By embracing change, Accenture and Anaplan continue a long term partnership in maximising customer value. We take a look at what they’re doing right.

Across 200 cities and 19 industries, Accenture works as a unified team. Collaborating with an ecosystem of over 180 partnerships, they aim towards a common goal— to harness the full potential of platforms and accelerate the path to 360° value for every one of its customers by embracing change.

Bringing together leaders in strategy, industry experts, enterprise function practitioners, business intelligence professionals, cloud migration and management specialists, designers, data scientists, and many other service providers, Accenture co-creates a unique path to customer success.

By bridging finance to operations, Anaplan helps to build a dynamic, resilient future where connected leaders and teams are able to adapt, transform and redesign their business models to react to ever-changing market dynamics. Anaplan makes it possible to make agile decisions with confidence to drive growth, increase margin, improve cash efficiency, and manage risk via real-time, complex scenarios and intelligent forecasting.

With more than 175 partners worldwide, Anaplan is proud to be partnering with many of the world’s leading experts. By strategically aligning with a wide range of organisations from large, global system integrators to smaller regional integrators and specialty consulting firms that provide transformation services around the world, Anaplan delivers successful digital transformation to their customers.  

Together, Accenture and Anaplan remain a long-standing, powerful duo whose shared success speaks for itself and is exemplified in their successful joint deliveries.

Accenture + Anaplan, Sharing in Customer Success

Accenture and Anaplan’s long-standing partnership is rooted in collective goals, equalled drive, and shared values. Accenture began working with Anaplan in 2011, becoming an official partner in 2014.

Although, as Evan Quasney, Global VP of Supply Chain Solutions at Anaplan, says,  “It started under the moniker of connected planning, as the companies grew, so did the partnership.” Today, Accenture is a "Global Strategic Partner,” the highest partner level defined by Anaplan, and was recognised as both APAC Partner of the Year and Japan Partner of the Year in 2021.

“When I looked at the power of transformation that Accenture has delivered for thousands of clients around the world and the outcomes that they like to achieve for their customers, Anaplan really seemed to be a natural fit,” Quasney says. “Oftentimes, Accenture is charged with transformations across processes, people, and technology for all types of organisations. Given Accenture's strong focus on being able to drive outcomes and deliver the results, what their clients were seeking was a natural fit for Anaplan to plug in and provide that next-generation platform that enables digital transformation.”

Yasunori Tomita from Accenture Technology at Accenture Japan continues the train of thought, sharing how Anaplan’s cloud-based business planning software helps maximise value. “Using Anaplan as a platform for sales, production, procurement, and inventory planning, users can maximise their corporate value by unifying supply chain planning. We believe that Anaplan's platform features are very suitable for global PSI reforms that Accenture promotes with our clients, where sharing and collaboration of plans across departments are essential.” 

Promoting Innovation and Fueling Growth

Anaplan understands the importance of growing alongside customers and continually adapts to meet their changing needs, helping to power their clients’ growth and maintain successful long-term partnerships. 

Quasney explains, “One of the things about Anaplan that I believe is most compelling is that as an organisation, we are all about bridging the gap between finance and operations. Particularly as it relates to the supply chain landscape, I believe our capabilities to tailor our product to meet a customer where they are today and then grow with them over time is one of the single biggest differentiators we have to offer.”

Tomita concurs, “Accenture believes it is essential to work with ecosystem partners to ensure that we have the weapons we need to meet our clients' current and future business needs. We also believe that Accenture can maximise the value we can provide for our clients. People well-versed in our clients' business promote innovation with a correct understanding of our partner's product characteristics and usage.”

Yosuke Ohta from Supply Chain & Operations Lead at Accenture Japan says,

“The ultimate goal of digital transformation is to increase corporate value from a 360° perspective that includes the perspectives of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and compliance. Even in the age of ‘digital is everywhere,’ the purpose of transforming operations remains the same: to increase corporate value. It is essential to continue updating and implementing the means to achieve this goal with the latest technology, and in the process, to always capture the extent of the contribution quantitatively to increasing corporate value. It is our mission to ensure customer success and provide our clients with support throughout their transformation journey.” 

Building Resilience in a VUCA World

The COVID world remains very much a VUCA world, where businesses currently operate under nebulous circumstances and constant change brought on by market volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.

 “We have experienced decades of the VUCA era,” says Tomita. “But we believe that only a few companies have capabilities of detecting changes that may occur in the future and act accordingly. As most companies are faced with many barriers, including existing organisations, business processes, and legacy systems, they are looking for what and how to start building resilience.”

“By leveraging our global expertise, Accenture provides end-to-end support for such companies, from defining the vision of what they want to achieve, to developing a roadmap for realising the vision to working with clients to form project teams to deliver results.”

“Our clients in the manufacturing industry are particularly lagging far behind in digital transformation in the planning area. A majority of companies have already implemented EPR systems and are able to automatically obtain the minimum required data for financial accounting purposes, such as inventory receipt and delivery information and production results. However, many companies still have only partial or limited digitalisation capabilities in the supply chain planning area, from demand prediction to sales and production planning based on supply capacity restrictions, transportation and delivery planning, and inventory optimisation. The reality is that business operations are run with a huge amount of manpower, using EXCEL that depends on individual skills. As a result, the speed and accuracy with which companies respond to change are not keeping pace with the needs of the market, which we believe is the biggest challenge.”

Yet, things aren’t likely to slow down. “The trend of VUCA will increasingly accelerate. From the perspective of supply chain management in the manufacturing industry, it will become more and more difficult to correctly grasp the market demand and supply products and services appropriately. Under these circumstances, companies that manage to stay in business through a vast amount of manual operations will soon find themselves unable to keep up with the changes. To make or break a company's success depends on how quickly it can move away from manual operations.

“We recommend companies start on a small scale. Large companies with global operations tend to have disparate business rules and processes, as well as IT systems and master data/code systems for each business, so efforts to standardise and unify them are necessary to increase the resilience of organisations. Toward realising this initiative, companies need to carefully select members well versed in the business processes and IT situation of each country and business to form a large-scale project team. Only a few companies can launch such a large-scale initiative right away, and even they will take years to realise it. In recent years, we have seen an increase in the number of companies that have started with a small reform by focusing on a specific business or product, using readily available SaaS solutions. They can obtain steady results by gradually expanding the reform across the company while quickly checking the effects.”

However, when it comes to planning and decision making, Ohta believes companies need to pick up the pace. “I suggest speeding up the decision-making cycle. In the age of VUCA, however excellent a leader you are, the probability of making the right decision is decreasing. We should acquire an opportunity to make decisions more frequently rather than pursue 100% correct decisions. As an example, many global companies from Japan still conduct monthly S&OP, which is behind the global standard where weekly S&OP is the norm. It goes without saying that the inefficient bucket-relay of operations need to be eliminated to make decisions more frequently.

Change Management, Culture Follows Mindset

Anaplan has proven themselves to be successful implementers of change, consistently helping their customers in driving implementations, ensuring adoption rates and optimising value. Quasney shares the importance of culture and how Anaplan is getting it right.

“There are a couple of ways that we believe we excel. The first is we take an agile approach to our implementations. On the software side, we work with our partners and teach what we call the Anaplan Way. The Anaplan Way is very different from a traditional software implementation methodology like waterfall. It's more like agile. What that allows our partners to do when they're driving transformations is to move very quickly and iteratively to build a mock-up of the concept they wish to test with the customer, focus on that outcome, on the dashboard, or the technology solution and get buy-in immediately.”

Culture and mindset are absolutely critical to achieving any type of digital transformation. At the root of digital transformation is becoming more agile, more flexible, more adaptive, and more responsive to the end goals of improving your business’s overall performance and agility. In order to do that, you require a fundamentally different mindset to how you look at and how you think about operating an organisation, making that organisational shift to a digital native or digital-first mindset.”

“And to that end, culture follows mindset. If I can take the approach that I need to drive this transformation and the business imperative is to become more agile, culture will follow along.”

The road isn’t always a straight one, however. Tomita shares some of the pitfalls and explains how small success can lead to big wins.

“In many cases where change management is not successful, the purpose and effect of the change are unclear. Even though you have been briefed on new tools and system functions, you may be unsure of what kind of data you can get that you couldn't handle before, what kind of decision-making you can do with the data available, and what kind of effects it can produce. It is important to have first-hand experience on such points before implementing a tool. If you can't do it manually in small steps, you can't do it digitally in large steps. Accenture promotes a ‘change management free implementation pattern by simultaneously implementing Business Process Re-engineering (BPR) and digitalisation.”

“A major cause of failure in transformation lies in resistance from opponents within the organisation. Change management is a key factor in mitigating this risk. The first step is to build up your confidence by experiencing small successes, and then transforming the confidence into certainty enables great results. Creating business benefits will help build momentum for transformation and turn opponents into allies. Based on the change management methodologies that we have developed over many years, we believe that we can develop communication plans for all layers of people, from management to front-line workers, and implement the plans together with our clients.”