How Anaplan plans to double its feature releases in 2018

The SaaS planning vendor has accelerated its release cycle by double in the year so far


In a bid to keep up with customer demands, SaaS unicorn Anaplan - which makes cloud-based planning solutions for enterprise customers - is looking to double the amount of releases it makes to its platform this year.

Anaplan is a platform underpinned by a complex data model called Hyperblock that allows finance and operations teams to collaborate on a single cloud-hosted data model, instead of working across a variety of disconnected Excel spreadsheets.


Speaking on stage today at Central Hall, a Methodist Church in Westminster, London, Calderoni outlined how he has pushed his engineering and product teams - some of which are based here in London and York - to make more releases to its SaaS platform.

"At the beginning of last year I came back to the product and engineering team with what customers want to see, we want them excited about what we are doing, so asked them to increase their velocity. First I heard a lot of doubt, which turned into do," he said.

Head of product at Anaplan Sampath Gomatam added: "We have increased the velocity, so just for context, in the past four months we have released about twice the number of feature-facing releases to customers." Calderoni told Computerworld UK that Anaplan delivered 40 feature releases in 2017.

Salesforce by comparison makes three big releases to its SaaS platform a year, each one packing roughly 150 new features. Rival vendor Workday makes two major releases a year, with version 30 boasting at least 20 new features.

In order to achieve this Calderoni has increased investment in the engineering and product teams and shifted the culture. "We have to set objectives, achievable but aggressive, and make sure we prioritise and drive that culture and execution," Calderoni said.

Read next: How Anaplan plans to kill off Excel use within the enterprise

These requests come from customers in two ways: through the customer success and sales teams at Anaplan off the back of direct conversations, and also an advisory board, which customers like Unilever sit on, to collect feedback and modify the roadmap depending on priorities.


Digging into the roadmap, Gomatam said the aim for the platform is to make it more "dynamic, collaborative and intelligent".

The focus for the product team as of late has been making the user experience more friendly to the end user, rather than the people doing the actual modelling. This has led to personalised saved dashboards and streamlined navigation, with drag and drop widgets and a context panel on the right.

Read next: Kimberly-Clark opts for Anaplan over Workday for predictive workforce planning

In terms of headline feature announcements this year, Anaplan has released Optimizer and Workflow.

The workflow tool, released to early access customers a few weeks ago, gives users a task board when they log into the platform which shows various tasks, their status, which cycle and department they sit in and directly take actions like inputting data or approvals, right within the platform.

"We are not trying to replace workflow systems but ensure for planning you have the right workflow capability for your end users," Gomatam said.

'Optimizer' is a tool for delivering simplified suggestions based on 'multi-variable decision with enormous speed'.

The proprietary algorithms can make suggested actions to complex questions. The user can simply define objectives, such as revenue, profit maximisation, or cost reduction, set multiple variables or constraints and press a button.

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