Spreadsheet Planning Is No Longer Fit-For-Purpose

by Angela Ashton

Having just returned from AnaplanHub 2018, a key takeaway for me was listening to the many Anaplan clients discuss their #ConnectedPlanning journey.

Consequently when I saw that Lindsay Alexander, Exec Director, Global Strategic Pricing from Estee Lauder was presenting on being “Red-Carpet Ready: How Estée Lauder transformed pricing planning, strategy and analytics from basic to beautiful”, particularly as ‘perfumery and cosmetics’ is a particular passion of mine, I had to make a point of attending.

In summary, Estee Lauder had been relying on spreadsheets (370 spreadsheets to consolidate), to conduct their global SKU-level for price planning and reporting, plan for launch price points and strategically plan portfolio price changes which occurred several times annually. Their users (marketing team) had limited experience utilising spreadsheets and found it was a cumbersome, time-consuming process prone to errors with decisions based on disparate data sources. They streamlined and automated the price planning process, by collecting rules down to SKU Level globally and connected existing SAP sales data (units, forecasts), competitors’ pricing data & foreign currency fluctuations. Moreover, they set up reporting dashboard capability for their executive time to view pricing elasticity of their products and their market share compared to that of competitors. Their “PriceLab” model was rolled out to approximately 900 marketers and finance team members across more than 40 market locations.

Listening to Lindsay and many of the other Anaplan clients at Hub further highlighted that spreadsheets are not meant to manage your complex enterprise planning processes. Although spreadsheets are an important part of the business, more often than not they are pushed way beyond their means.

Let us look at the supply chain. Supply Chain planning has changed quite a bit since its early days. Years ago, companies primarily used enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems for collaboration and data tracking across the entire business. Today, many companies do their planning with a mix of spreadsheets and ERP systems. Those options work for business planning—but only up to a certain point. Why?

Planning in spreadsheets soon becomes messy, disjointed, and disconnected. It can raise as many issues as it answers, such as: Are forecast numbers updated and shared across the business with relevant stakeholders, including sales, finance, and operations? Are inventory numbers from previous versions of a spreadsheet accurately entered into a new one? What do you do when disruptions like natural disasters and labour issues strike the supply chain?  What will the impact be on your sales when your competitor drops their price?

These are just a few questions that supply chain planning professionals have to consider. To succeed in a growing global market, you need a supply chain that’s connected from start to finish, across your enterprise and beyond. Here are five steps we recommend to achieve connected supply chain planning.

  1. Make a move to a real-time supply chain plan
  2. Unify supply chain planning with enterprise planning
  3. Anticipate the demand of the customer
  4. Leverage the same data across all points of the supply chain
  5. Ensure you have the flexibility to anticipate and react to change

Are you ready to take your supply chain beyond its limitations driven by outdated ERP systems and spreadsheets? By following the steps above, you will be ready to collaborate across the enterprise, quickly adjust to market changes, and reap benefits, including lower costs and increased efficiency.

Download our white paper: 5 Steps to Smart Supply Chain Planning.


Reference: 5 Steps to connected supply chain planning, Daniel Eyre - Anaplan, Product Marketing Manager.

Book a Discovery Session with Tridant

Unpack your enterprise challenges. Book a discovery session with Tridant subject matter experts to diagnose, prioritise and create action plans to chart a path forward and solve the challenges you are facing.

Enter your details below and we'll get in touch shortly. 

Recent Articles