Our chief product officer, Sanjay Vyas, answers questions about the latest updates to Planful and how they’re helping customers do more, do it better, and do it with a smile.
Planful continues to churn out great new features and powerful enhancements to our award-winning EPM products. In less than two years, we’ve added hundreds of new features, yet we continue to give our customers more and more powerful tools to become more strategic within their organizations.
The product and engineering teams at Planful have been working with finance, budget owners, and executives across our customers to really understand how they work and what they need. Tighter collaboration with the business is always a crucial aspect. And, in today’s fast-moving world, advanced modeling features that let them quickly analyze new opportunities is also important. However, none of that matters if they can’t do it quickly and easily. That doesn’t just mean a solution that’s easy to use; they want tools that empowers them to do more, do it faster, and do it with a smile.
With our Winter19 release, we’re happy to be able to give our customers all of the above–and more! Leading that charge is our chief product officer, Sanjay Vyas. We asked him a few questions about this latest release, and here’s what he had to say.
Sanjay, Planful has been delivering our customers tons of new features and power over the past couple of years. Where does all this innovation come from?
It’s a clear reflection of the relationships we have with our customers combined with the ingenuity and the domain expertise of our product and engineering teams. Last quarter, we talked about the 250 new features we’ve delivered and the two dozen new engineers added to our team. None of that would be possible without a deep connection to our customers. We work with them every day, and we start with the question of “What would make your job better?” There’s a lot packed into “better”, from making it easier to being able to accomplish tasks faster and with more accuracy and certainty. But there’s also the delightful factor at play here, where actions are intuitive and straightforward, and where finance can use Planful to find opportunities and add value, and then walk out of a meeting having provided deep and lasting value to the business. Better is always, well, better, and we strive to make our customers better by making our products better. Always.
What are the key areas of advancement in the Winter19 release and how will they make our customers better?
This release is focused on four areas: collaboration, a delightful user experience, better and more dynamic access to information, and more powerful and flexible modeling. Let’s unpack each of those individually.
Finance teams are in the midst of a transformation, where they are taking the lead in helping organizations find and capitalize on new opportunities. Not only does that mean they need to have more valuable and more strategic information to provide, but that they have to work more closely with the business. Winter19 adds and enhances the collaboration aspect of EPM with things like an intuitive task manager, a bulletin board notification system, and more. It helps align finance and the business, and give visibility to that alignment, so everyone is working towards the same strategic goals.
For finance to be better across the whole spectrum of the value they provide, it has to be easy and intuitive to discover, parse, and present the information they work with. With that in mind, we’ve added scores of updates, some big, some small, that combine to make a huge impact in the day-to-day lives of our customers. Again, we use the word delightful, and we truly believe that, if a tool is a delight to use, it will empower the customer to do great things.
Adding to the impact of this delightful experience is the increase in dynamic abilities across our entire solution. This enables customers to access all the background and supporting data they need right from the screen or report they’re currently in. Instead of jumping around within the solution, they’re always just a click or two away from the information they need.
Finally, modeling continues to gain more power, more flexibility, and more simplicity, and we’ve also added completely new components that are blowing our customers away.
The Winter19 modeling advancements sound interesting. Can you expand on that one?
Planful modeling has always been powerful, but now we’ve taken a leap in terms of functionality and value. Namely, our ability to collect, load, and granularly work with unstructured data is unprecedented.
In the past, and with competing solutions, using unstructured data would require external manipulation of the data in a spreadsheet or another financial tool. With Winter19, that’s no longer the case. Customers can, for example, run calculations against unstructured data across specific timeframes down to the day. So for contracts executed mid-month, Planful can make revenue recognition or revenue planning an easy task. We think the industry will really be excited about this new capability.
Back to delivering a delightful experience, what can finance professionals expect from Winter19 to help them be better at their jobs?
We know that an easy to use solution is a solution that will get used. More power and utility is wasted if it’s too hard to use. So we’ve added capabilities to our dashboards, for example, where users can drill down on aggregated data and KPIs all the way to the source data at the SKU level. Or, going the other way, they can change variables behind the dashboards, change how reports are viewed, and do it all in just a few clicks.
Spotlight for Office also gets more power from a deeper integration with Microsoft Office. Instead of just being able to add discrete data points to PowerPoint, for example, customers can now add full Excel reports and grids, and they can refresh the entire grid in just one click, making financial presentations a breeze.
Are there any new features for the accounting users out there?
Of course! In this release, we’ve added a Flow dimension, which gives accountants the features they need to do easier and more robust cash flow reporting and asset roll-forward reporting. Plus, we’ve added new currency translation adjustment capabilities at the account level to allow a better analysis of how exchange rates impact financials.
The accounting and reporting features in Winter19 are world class, and we think the accounting software market, specifically, will take notice. We’re eager for our customers to have a look.
Even though Winter19 was just released, what’s on the roadmap ahead for Planful?
Winter19 offers so many features to just help finance teams be better at their work and be better contributors to organizational success. The collaboration features let them work more closely with the business. The user experience has been elevated to make Planful an absolute joy to use, which in turn makes it easier for finance to add value. And the modeling and accounting features add specific value that customers are already jumping up and down about.
Beyond helping customers experience and use these Winter19 features, we’re going to continue working with them to keep pushing the envelope on increasing finance’s strategic value to every organization.