Well, Spring is finally here and so is Planful World. And with that comes our second feature release of 2016 – our Spring16 release!
This is the biggest release Planful has issued in a number of years. It includes a new user experience that will make life easier for existing as well as new users. This release also includes new features, improved analytics, enhanced performance and other goodies. In case you couldn’t attend Planful World to hear about the Spring16 release in person, here are the highlights.
Re-Imagined User Experience
In our last few releases, we’ve introduced incremental improvements in the user experience. But in the Spring16 release we made a big leap forward. A reimagined, dynamic user interface now includes custom branding options, streamlined navigation features, and a more integrated platform experience. These enhancements are designed to work in concert to accelerate adoption by users of all skill levels and to shorten the time to value for customers. In addition, the Spring16 release is browser-agnostic, allowing users a choice of virtually any browser and the flexibility to easily deploy to Windows or Mac OS environments.
Broader Productivity and Collaboration
We’ve made a number of investments in the Spring16 release to enable improved collaboration for users involved in the planning and reporting process. For example, we’re providing embedded social collaboration capabilities (via Socialcast), which support in-context discussion threads around specific tasks within the system. We are also providing the optional ability to integrate with popular third-party collaboration tools such as Slack, which is also a Planful customer. This enables stronger internal partnerships across functions, better alignment of finance and operations, and faster more efficient planning and reporting cycles.
In this release, we are also introducing integrations with Google for Work, to make it even easier for teams to collaborate around planning and reporting tasks using Google Sheets and Google Drive. These are popular tools for companies that have embraced a 100% cloud approach for all of their business applications.
Improved Reporting and Analysis
In the Spring16 release we are introducting new Dynamic Reporting functionality for workforce analytics that extends users’ ability analyze and understand workforce related data, and to create ad hoc reports against this data.
Based on the previously-announced partnership with Qlik, Planful is now beta testing a new analytics module which enables speed-of-thought data discovery, visualization and dashboards against Planful’ data and other sources through web browsers and mobile devices. We’ll be demonstrating these capabilities at Planful World, and more information about this will be available as we get closer to making these new capabilities generally available in the next few months.
The ability to handle larger deployments and ever-growing datasets with speed and scale is critical to staying competitive in today’s market. Planful has introduced performance enhancements in many of our recent releases, but the Spring16 release takes it to a new level. Extended in-memory processing now provides customers with unprecedented improvements in performance, with many benchmarks delivering increases of up to 50% to 90% across various planning and reporting scenarios. Additionally, the ability to load, process and interrogate larger more complex data sets are also now available through the implementation of incremental updates and loading. This has cut data load times by up to 80% in many scenarios and has simplified the data management process.
No release would be complete without addressing some new feature requests for customers. The Spring16 release includes a number of customer-requested feature enhancements including simplified Planning templates, 13 period support for Consolidations, and the ability to support multiple sets of books for USGAAP and IFRS reporting. The Modeling module has also been enhanced with scheduler-based automation for data integration, Excel 2016 support, as well as detailed audit logs. These new features will enable customers to address more complex planning, reporting and modeling requirements with ease.
Seamless Data Integration
And last, but not least, we’ve made some improvements to our data integration capabilities. In order to enable tighter integration of EPM and ERP applications, the Spring16 release introduces real-time Dell Boomi Connectors as well as “Built for NetSuite” certification of our NetSuite ERP integration.
Spring16 has Sprung!
As you can see the Spring16 release of Planful EPM Platform is truly a blockbuster. While this release may sound overwhelming to existing users, early customer feedback on the new user experience has been very positive. Here’s one example from DeeAnne McClenahan at Greystar:
“The improved user interface for Planful Cloud EPM Platform will make it easier for new users to learn and navigate the system,” said DeeAnne McClenahan, Senior Director, Property Budgeting at Greystar. “We are also excited about the ability to incorporate our company logo and branding into the system to make it more familiar to our users.”
Here’s a comment from Rick Odom at Welch Allyn about the new Dynamic Reporting for workforce analytics capability:
“A company’s workforce it almost always its largest expense and biggest asset. Workforce Planning is critical to managing this significant expense and the new dynamic reporting for workforce analytics capability from Planful makes this even more valuable by providing better insights into our workforce data,” said Rick Odom, Sr. Manager – Financial Planning & Analysis at Welch Allyn, Inc. “Because it is now much more user friendly, we can roll it out to more users and broaden its use as a solid tool to manage our workforce. We appreciate the renewed emphasis in this area and look forward to additional future improvements.”
I hope to see many of our customers at Planful World, where you’ll have many opportunities to learn more about the Spring ’16 release. But if you can’t attend, there will be other opportunities to get more details about the release.
If you’re an existing customer and want to find out more, you can view the full release notes in our online help and discuss these new enhancements via our Customer Community. You can also attend our May 25th Wednesday with the Experts session to get more information.