Overall Satisfaction with Planful (formerly Host Analytics)
We use Planful in the Planning and Analysis Department where we aggregate data from multiple applications (accounting and operational) in Modeling in order to provide analysis to the Operations, Asset Management, Marketing, Legal, and Accounting departments. We utilize Planful to compare results to budget, analyze marketing trends, manage contract terms, validate formula pricing calculations, build operating budgets, and maintain forecasts.
- Aggregates financial and non-financial data in a single platform
- Allows for complicated formulas in the building of financial models
- Creates a single source of the truth throughout the organization
- It can be slow when there is a large volume of data behind the calculations
- I can't keep up with the release improvements, so I feel I'm missing out on some good features
- I understand the need, but I hate updating my password every 90 days
- Reduced budget consolidation from days to minutes
- Saved an FTE in the Planning and Analysis department
- Allows for aggregation of all relevant operational data
We import non-financial data into Modeling daily, and produce detailed analysis combining the financial and non-financial data, provided to multiple staff departments and operations. We now have a single repository so that separate departments can collaborate on planning, execution, and follow up. Each department now feels it has more ownership in their results, as they can understand the drivers of the business.
First and foremost, our ability to produce and consolidate driver-based budgets was the key benefit we gained. At implementation, it was critical for us to have a tool for consolidation, as our accounting data was housed in 14 different (but similar) databases. Since then, we have been using Planful to distribute month end results to operations, produce monthly forecasts, and generate all types of ad hoc analysis requested from the C-suite.
Operational reporting is now just a single click, since the reports will automatically generate and be distributed once the books are closed. We can directly interface with external data sources to automatically refresh data nightly. We have also replicated the formulas used to generate our costs, and refresh the data nightly to validate the next day's product costs.
I find it's easier to start with an existing report, then modify it as needed and save as a new report. We are just on the infancy of dashboards, but I can see it is a very user-friendly tool, we just need to determine what we want to present. Our Senior Business Analyst is an expert at building reports, especially in Modeling, and provides new templates to the support staff at their requests.
Once trained and familiar with the tools, Planful is a very user friendly application. However, change is required when implementing a new tool, and we have found some resistance within our organization to embrace it. Those of us that are using it don't go a day without its assistance. If I were to do it again, I would ensure that all departments were involved in the implementation, so that they could value behind it.
I used Hyperion and Essbase in a former position, and when I was introduced to Planful (as Host Analytics), I was intrigued by the similarities to Essbase, but in the cloud. I could see the potential immediately, and it has improved continuously since implementation. I have never been more impressed by the genuine customer service provided by all of Planful's departments. I am also impressed with the online training resources and customer support, as well as the support of the Planful user community.
Do you think Planful delivers good value for the price?
Are you happy with Planful's feature set?
Did Planful live up to sales and marketing promises?
Did implementation of Planful go as expected?
Would you buy Planful again?
Planful is well suited for any time you have complicated formulas that you use to produce reports, budgets, forecasts, and dashboards. We have used modeling to capture all of the relevant fields that drive our business, and with a number of behind-the-scenes calculations, build budgets in a protected environment and consolidate them in a fraction of the time it took manually (minute rather than days).
Planful Feature Ratings
Planful Features and Attributes
Planful has the most experienced, dedicated, and knowledgeable customer support staff I have ever worked with. They are diligent in identifying solutions to your challenges, and will follow up to ensure your results are to your satisfaction. They really listen to their customers, and rely on them to provide ideas for continual improvement of their products.
The tools can be intimidating to non-financial or non-technological users, but familiarity of the application improves usability exponentially. The multiple training resources supplied by Planful, as well as the users' Community board, provide all users with detailed instructions for navigating through each of the different modules. You always have the opportunity to inquire as to whether other users have encountered the same challenges you face, and what their results or solution was.
Because we refresh most of our data feeds nightly, I can run the financial results each morning to update the current period's actual results. This has enabled the asset management department to better manage their budget, as they can monitor their spend now on a daily basis. It also allows us to see volume trends real time, so that we can react to market changes immediately.
Planful has had the most impact on our former very manual, very error-prone budget process. We previously distributed Excel spreadsheets with embedded formulas that could be changed, formats that could be modified, and links that could be corrupted. It would literally take days to consolidate. Once we switched to Planful, all data was entered into templates, and all of the formulas were locked in the model. We were able to reduce consolidation time to minutes.
When we were scheduled to implement Modeling, our third party consultants were too overwhelmed to fit us in their schedule, but Planful had one of its developers step up to assist in our implementation. It went incredibly smoothly, was completed in only six weeks, and allowed us to learn about and train on the tool directly from one of the individuals who developed it.
Using Planful (formerly Host Analytics)
1 - We are a very small organization (less than 50 employees), so our Planning and Analysis Department "owns" the software. Our Senior Business Analyst maintains the hierarchy, access, security, and content of Planful. His data analytics knowledge is useful for data integration, and his experience with Excel formulas provided the expertise that is beneficial when building the formulas in Modeling.
- Validation of index pricing
- Creation of annual budgets
- Financial analysis for operations
- Departmental accountability for financial results
- Validation of index pricing, which requires the aggregation of multiple external data sources
- Daily volume and margin analysis since the start of the pandemic
- Reconcile EBITDA to Net Income for our lenders
- Consolidation of financial reports for auditors, as we recently acquired new companies
- Workforce Planning, whenever HR believes this is a secure environment
- Dashboards for KPI's, which for us is in its infancy
Our new Comptroller understands the value of Planful, and we plan to utilize it further in the organization to enhance external reporting. Strangely enough, Planful had not previously been embraced by the former CFO, who argued that we were running two sets of books (of course, we were not). Fortunately, the before mentioned reconciliation of EBITDA to Net Income demonstrated that to the banks.