Anaplan drives strategic workforce planning at ServiceSource

Several hundred managers, executives and analysts at ServiceSource use Anaplan cloud software for budgeting, forecasting, workforce planning and analytics.

Before ServiceSource opened a new sales center in the Philippines in January, financial planners and analysts used Anaplan cloud software to help executives understand the levers of the global staffing decision.

"We were able to drive analytics and insights around the timing, shifts and profitability of moving folks from certain sales centers into the Philippines and how that, for example, can drive the blended margin … in North America," said Mike Lemberg, vice president of finance for ServiceSource International.

Strategic workforce planning is a major use for Anaplan.

"We are using it not just to move people, but also to enable us to expand the product and services we are providing through a mix of onshore and offshore resources," he added. "Anaplan has been instrumental in letting us do a global allocation of talented resources across the services we are delivering."

ServiceSource, based in San Francisco, is planning for up to 500 positions in the Philippines, including operations specialists, sales representatives and experienced sales managers, according to a press release. The company has sales centers around the world, including North American offices in Nashville, Tenn., and Denver.

In addition to strategic workforce planning, the Anaplan platform provides a range of capabilities including workforce analytics, reporting, planning, budgeting and forecasting. It easily integrates with the company's Workday human capital management (HCM) and ERP and is used by about 300 to 400 people at ServiceSource, including the COO, who runs the company's sales centers, he said.

ServiceSource makes money by helping companies -- including those in software, hardware, health and life sciences -- grow and retain revenues from contracts with their customers. Most of ServiceSource's net revenues come from the commissions it earns from the sale of renewals of maintenance, support and subscription agreements on behalf of its customers, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. ServiceSource also offers cloud software to help companies win, expand and renew contracts.

Lemberg said Anaplan largely replaced Microsoft Excel and another type of software that he declined to identify and transformed the 15-member financial planning and analysis (FP&A) staff that serves under him at ServiceSource.

"To us, FP&A provides value," he said. "We are not just having the managers look at the numbers. We are providing insights into analytics and telling them the 'so what' based on what they are seeing."

Financial planners and analysts, for example, use Anaplan to show the trends over time in key performance metrics such as sales generation by individual or cost to meet a customer demand. They show the trends by location, customer and industry segment.

ServiceSource uses Anaplan to determine the number of employees it would need for each batch of business, which might carry different renewal rates. Analysts can look at the sales, costs and margins generated by the business based on the number of people being deployed for that service.

IT key for global implementation

Anaplan was implemented starting in August of 2014 and went live in October of that year.

Lemberg said teamwork with IT was critical during the implementation.

He said he advocated and supported a "very tight partnership" between finance and IT at ServiceSource. He credited the IT department for training managers around the world and helping meet an aggressive timetable for going live with Anaplan. "IT managed it internally for use and made sure we had a disciplined design, testing and migration to hit the mark."

Managers in sales centers and elsewhere use Anaplan for budgeting and were required to adopt it.

Lemberg said Anaplan was adopted very quickly with few challenges, mostly because the forms and methods mirror Excel. "It looked just like Excel on the cloud. The interface is extremely intuitive to the users."

Analysts still use Excel for some printing and for some complex analytics. Because Anaplan data is at their fingertips, the analysts can export the numbers into Excel for one-off analytics, he said.

Anaplan helps analyze Workday HCM and financial data

Anaplan can also obtain employee counts from Workday HCM and financial accounts from the general ledger in Workday.

For strategic workforce planning, the company built a custom Anaplan application that brings in actual head counts from Workday and allows the company to project the number of employees that might be needed to deliver services for a customer. The forecasts occur four quarters in advance and include each quarter along the way, Lemberg said.

The way ServiceSource assigns workers to service customers is complex. Each deployment is based on the type of service calls; whether the call center is abroad or in the U.S.; or if specialists are needed to handle a larger customer's data integration, outbound calls, quoting or administrative work.

Lemberg said it is beautiful that he can use Anaplan every day to pull actual spending numbers and perform workforce analytics for narrow purposes.

He also uses it for once-a-month forecasts that involve updating actual spending, rolling it forward into a forecast and comparing it to the current and prior budgets and prior forecasts.

The company runs all sorts of reports through Anaplan, including consolidated and departmental profit and loss statements for executives, reports specific to sales centers or customers, or for delivering services to customers.

Most of the reports are done monthly. Depending on the types of reports, a set can go to the CEO; CFO; COO; the heads of sales centers; the chief of sales and marketing; or a level down to the heads of HR, marketing and sales.

 "We have obtained incredible value from Anaplan," he said. "It is a wonderful system and platform. We are using it to get transparency, analytics and insights across the organization."

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