Pro Football’s Most Planful Coaches Battle For The Championship This Sunday

Pro Football’s Most Planful Coaches Battle For The Championship This Sunday

Kyle Shanahan, head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, knew what was coming. 

As his players lined up in formation, he leaned over to the referee and stated, matter of factly, exactly what was going to happen on the next play. He was setting up a bait for the defense to take a penalty. 

The ball snapped. His player took a few steps forward, sharply cut left, and the defender reacted exactly how Shanahan predicted he would react. The defender fell into the trap, and the referee called the penalty. 

Shanahan, ever the continuous planner, came out on top

Source

On Sunday, Shanahan’s San Francisco 49ers will face Andy Reid’s Kansas City Chiefs in the final round of the NFL championship.

While the media will focus on the star players doing battle on the field, zooming on their otherworldly feats of athleticism, the outcome will be decided by the coaches’ schemes, play calls, and preparation. 

On Sunday, the more planful coach will emerge victorious. 

Shanahan’s 49ers: The Continuous Planning Offense 

When Shanahan lines up a specific player on the field, all preconceived notions go out the window. 

He’ll have tight-ends taking hand-offs as if they were running backs. He’ll have fullbacks running out wide as if they were receivers. He’ll have wide receivers blocking as if they were linemen.

“He uses every play like a puzzle piece,” said 49ers right tackle Mike McGlinchey to the San Jose Mercury News. “He manipulates [the] defense’s responsibilities against them.”

Shanahan has pioneered a type of positionless football. On nearly 80 percent of his plays, he moves an offensive player before the snap, forcing the defense to adjust on the fly and show their hand in terms of their own formations. He studies each defensive player’s individual responsibilities, “taking it to an individual level” as 49ers star cornerback Richard Sherman describes it, and then adapts his play calls based on the real-time information he’s getting in the game.


Andrew Krammer from the Star-Tribune breaks down the 49ers pre-snap motions

That’s why the San Francisco 49ers offense can make better decisions, more frequently than their opponents. They’re continuous planners – by rapidly adjusting their plans with real-time information, they adapt to the flow of the game and take advantage of emerging opportunities as they happen. 

Continuously planning companies operate the same way by constantly iterating, adjusting, and collaborating on their cloud-based platform. Leaders from across the organization get involved, as non-finance units engage with the FP&A team — constantly. 

Financial planning becomes positionless, as non-finance departments engage in the financial planning process. 

And ultimately, when the company encounters some unforeseen circumstance – a geopolitical event, or an emerging opportunity — they’ll be able to adapt their play calls based on the real-time information. With a cloud-based platform, continuously planning companies are able to better use their own financial insights, rapidly adjust their financial plans, and make course corrections across departments. 

Much like the 49ers offense, these companies end up making better decisions, more frequently than their competition — because the FP&A team is able to use their plans and data like puzzle pieces, offering critical insight that leads to the right play call at the right time. 

Coming Up: Andy Reid’s Kansas City Chiefs Accelerate Their Cycles Like No Other

Stay tuned to learn how the 49ers’ opponents, the Kansas City Chiefs, deploy some of the fastest, most talented players in the league to wreak havoc on their competition… and why companies with an accelerated financial close and consolidation process have the same advantage. 

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The Big Reveal In San Diego: Unveiling Planful to The World

The Big Reveal In San Diego: Unveiling Planful to The World

Grant Halloran, CEO of Host Analytics (as it was referred back then) stood in front of the entire company, all together in a San Diego hotel ballroom. 



He took a sip of his water, taking a moment for a good look at his audience, and his clicker sent the screen to the next slide. The screen was black. 

“What is our number one priority?” he asked the audience. 

In one voice, every employee in the company responded. 

“Our customers!” they shouted in unison. 

Grant smiled. He hit the next slide, and Host became Planful.

From 2001 to 2020 to Beyond: CEO Grant Halloran’s Keynote

On January 15, 2020, over two hundred employees and partners arrived in San Diego for Company Kickoff 2020. Grant started his opening keynote at around 1 PM PST, and by the time he was finished, everyone in the audience became a part of the Planful journey and the brand was live for the world to see.

Grant started the keynote by looking back, noting that in the past 12 months, the company has seen:

  • 150 new enhancements to the products, driven by customers, and our vision.
  • A raft of new customers, from diverse industries such as FinTech, hospitality, sports, manufacturing, nonprofits, retail, and construction.
  • Over 100 new employees, including 5 new senior executives. 

“How do we take this to the next level? How do we build on this momentum and keep continually improving? How do we grow rapidly while holding ourselves to high standards when it comes to taking care of our customers?” Grant asked the audience.

“When we started in 2001, we physically hosted our FP&A automation machines on-premise at our customers’ offices. The words “Host” and “Analytics” have changed drastically in the last decade, and don’t mean as much to the customers we serve, financial planning & analysis professionals, so when I came on board, I immediately set out to find an identity that means something to our customers in today’s world.”

Rowan Tonkin, the head of the marketing organization, was tasked with bringing this new identity to life. 

“The name Planful resonated with me because it was about our customers — the trait they all naturally have, the strength we can help strengthen. Instead of being about our company and our product, ‘Planful’ reflects our customers and represents the potential we can help them reach.”

Financial Consolidation’s Role In Continuous Planning: SVP of Marketing Rowan Tonkin’s Keynote

By using a cloud-based planning platform, Rowan explained, finance teams can automate and accelerate their financial consolidation and planning process, reducing their planning and decision cycles by over 80 percent. Now when the business encounters a sudden change, an unforeseen challenge, or an emerging opportunity, the FP&A team can offer strategic and confident insights and adjust the company’s plans without missing a beat. 

“Our platform helps finance teams focus more of their energy on being strategic advisors to all facets of their business. That helps their respective companies understand their financial data better, elevating the entire company’s financial IQ, involving everyone in the planning and decision-making process,” said Rowan. “Planful companies make better decisions, more frequently. The entire organization starts moving more proactively, more strategically, and more collaboratively. That’s a competitive advantage. That’s how our customers are building great companies.”

Want To Learn More About Continuous Planning?
Read about our decision to become Planful, our press release announcing the change, and for more information about Continuous Planning, check out our guide here

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Host Analytics is Becoming Planful

Host Analytics is Becoming Planful

Six months ago, I was honored to become the CEO of Host Analytics. Since then, I’ve met with many of our customers. These businesses are the heart of our economy, driving progress as they compete and innovate for the benefit of their customers, employees, and shareholders.

In these visits, no matter the geography or industry or size of the company, I kept hearing about how our capabilities impacted our customers’ philosophy toward financial planning. 

I heard that our platform didn’t just help our customers do their jobs better… it helped them shift their mentality around the concept of financial planning. They became not just better at planning, but more interested in planning, more aware of the benefits of planning. They started thinking about planning as an organizational value, a key part of their culture.

They became more planful.

A New Milestone On Our Journey

Our previous name, Host Analytics, served us well since our inception in 2001 — we started off hosting machines in our customers’ offices to run FP&A, and we were the first company to bring FP&A automation to the cloud.

Nearly two decades later, we have clearly evolved our capabilities, our perspective, and our vision.

With the help of our software, our customers have accelerated their financial close and consolidation cycles by over 80 percent. They’re now better able to respond to sudden changes, unforeseen circumstances, and emerging opportunities by planning dynamically. And the business is making decisions more frequently, quickly, and confidently.

‘Planful’ is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as “full of plans” — organized, systematic, thoughtful. We felt there was no better word to describe our customers’ mindsets, aligning well with the type of impact we can help them achieve in their organizations.

Allow us to reintroduce ourselves: we are now Planful, and we exist to empower confident and impactful financial decisions – be them large and strategic, or small and tactical.

New Name, New Vision, Same Great Platform

All that said, our customers will experience zero interruptions to their service or subscription, with no action required on their part. Our emphasis on planning and decision-making does not mean we are shifting our focus from financial consolidation. We believe accelerating financial close and reporting cycles is critical to driving faster, more confident, and more impactful planning and decision cycles… you can’t do one without the other.

As I’ve seen with our customers, once relieved of the labor-intensive, time-consuming, and error-prone burden of spreadsheets (or other homegrown tools), the finance team is able to focus more of its energy on being strategic advisors to all facets of the business.

The business, in turn, starts benefitting from those financial insights and elevating its financial IQ, as business leaders start making more informed decisions, with more confidence and agility. The entire company starts moving more proactively, more strategically, and more collaboratively.

Our customers became planful — and now we’re becoming Planful.

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Simple and Beautiful – A Sneak Peek Into Planful’s Upcoming UI Improvements

Simple and Beautiful – A Sneak Peek Into Planful’s Upcoming UI Improvements

We heard you loud and clear.

As a finance professional, you have an important job to do. You expect your tools to make your life easier, your work more productive, and your decisions better-informed.

That begins with the user interface — from navigation to icons to the visual color scheme, we pride ourselves on combining powerful, robust capabilities with a modern, intuitive, and approachable user interface.

In that spirit, we’re excited to announce that early next year we will be releasing user interface enhancements across our platform. With zero disruption to your service — no training, technical support, or reimplementation required — Planful customers will enjoy these visual upgrades as part of our scheduled release on February 21, 2020.

You will see these changes take form in…

  • Navigation bar, planning templates, dynamic reports, dashboards, planning and consolidation control panels, and task manager 
  • Modern icons, rounded edges, and softer lines that create an inviting visual aesthetic
  • Larger fonts and spacing between rows and columns that make it easier to view and interact with your data
  • A sleek new monochromatic color scheme that provides a modern visual experience  
  • Large, clickable icons that eliminate wasted white space and make navigation easy and intuitive
  • As well as in many more elements throughout the platform

By making the visual experience more dynamic and inviting, navigating the platform will be easier, more intuitive, and more efficient. 

We take pride in our products’ capabilities — we know our tools save our customers’ time, money, and energy. We know that companies do better when they spend less time on reactive, tedious busywork and more time on proactive, strategic planning. These enhancements serve that mission by further unlocking our customers’ potential — bringing your team one step further on your journey toward Continuous Planning.

2020 will be a big year for our company, our product, and our customers. We don’t want to give too much away right now, but what we will say is this round of enhancements is just the beginning. Stay tuned on how we’re elevating your organization’s financial IQ by subscribing to our Blog.

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