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Any Adaptive Planning, Host Analytics, or PlanGuru References?

Mark Valderrama's Profile

Host Analytics vs Adaptive Planning reviewsI work for a mid-sized manufacturing/e-commerence company and I am looking at both PlanGuru and Adaptive Planning as possible budget software upgrades to replace our excel budgets.  I'm looking to see if anyone has had any experience with implementation and usage of the product.  Both products appear promising and we have demoed both products.  I prefer Adaptive better myself because it appears more user friendly and on the cloud, but PlanGuru is a lot cheaper.  I have not demoed Host Analytics, but this site's comments on it has me interested.  I'm looking for either positive or negative experience.

My general questions would be (I figure calling people might be best versus replying to the message):

----------------------------

- How was your training experience with either product?

- How long did it take you implement?  Did you self implement or do a guided implementation?

- Did you customize at all? (We are not planning to)

- How have your department managers accepted the product for budget management and reporting?  What would be your advise for getting executive buy-in?

- What dashboards did you find particularly useful for your organization and management?

- How much did you spend for implementation?  Annually?  If you self-implemented, do you have prior implementation experience?

- How quickly would you say you have achieved ROI on the product?

- How was the scalebility to connect to your ERP system?  If no ERP, how well would you say your QB connector work?

- How well would you say non-accountants understand the software or the reporting/dashboards coming out of it?

- How would long did it take you to get used to the formula programming in software?  How long do you think a heavy excel would take getting used to it?

- How adapative are these products if your doing budgets quarterly (We do this because we are growing so fast)?

- How user friendly is the FTE planning?

- Can any of these products breakout the detail of the budgeted items (e.g. - If someone puts $2,500 a month for software expeditures are you able to include the detail that makes up this $2,500)

Thanks,

Mark

Answers

Colleen Tebo
Title: Manager
Company: Cervello
(Manager, Cervello) |

Hi Mark,

I saw your post and I can provide insight to the Host Analytics product. I work for a midsized manufacturing company and we implemented Host Analytics last year. Please note that I may refer to Host Analytics as Host in my responses below.

- How long did it take you implement? Did you self-implement or do a guided implementation? [CT] We did use an outside consulting company when we were in the initial stages of identifying a product. This consulting company introduced us to Host Analytics. I believe that they used the other companies that you mentioned and can probably give you a fair comparision. Message me if you are interested in contacting them. We do not have a large IT staff and this consultant company worked as our IT project manager. Although I do want to make it clear that IT does not need to be involved with the Host implementation. All IT related functions are handled at Host by Host because it is a SaaS product. Our budget implementation was about 12 weeks. As you design you can deploy to the end users so you do not necessary have to wait until everything is completed to roll out to the end users. I was 100% dedicated to the project and host dedicates 1 person that they call a design architect. The Design Architect came for an on-site visit and then all other correspondence was handled through WebEx. We had weekly meetings and then daily meetings when needed. I personally liked that I was getting one on one attention. While you are in design mode the design architect is also training you so that going forward you can make changes to the software. You will not need a consultant to make changes to Host Analytics in the future. You will be in control of your own application and can add companies, accounts, templates, reports, etc.

- Did you customize at all? (We are not planning to) [CT] Host is customizable to each client. Examples:
• Account string (also known as dimensions)
o IPG: Company-Department-Account-Product-Intercompany
o Your Company: Company-Department-Customer-Region-Market
• # of Years – This will be the number of years budgeted
o IPG: 5
o Your company:2
• Input Templates – Host will initially setup some templates with you. You can modify these templates and add templates without additional cost. The templates are very excel like and accept excel formulas. The columns will be setup for the time period established in your application but the rows will be determined by you. Each line in a template can be either an input, calculation or a reference from another template (like linking files or tabs in excel). You can create one template that is used for all subsidiaries or departments or can have specific templates for each company and/or department if needed. It is really flexible. You are not boxed into to a "standard" setup.
• Reports – Similarly to input templates, Host will setup a certain number of reports with you. Again you can modify and or add reports without additional costs. The income statement for your company may look very different from our company. You are not locked into a specific format.
- How have your department managers accepted the product for budget management and reporting? [CT] Our first year we tried to mirror the excel reports that we were already using as closely as possible. The system is very excel like so it makes it easy for the end user to be trained and accept the system. There are also “forecasting methods” built into the system. These would be things like % growth year over year, month over month, annual growth, etc. The end use can pick by line item which forecasting method they want and the system would auto-populate. Manual input is also always as option and as I have mentioned before excel formulas are accepted.
- What would be your advice for getting executive buy-in?
[CT] 1. Definitely let the “big” players sit through a demo so that they can see all the functions Host has to offer. I have used some of the bigger vendors in the past and Host is very comparable. 2. Stop offering manual excel reports. Explain to them that they will receive reports more timely. Before you begin designing in Host ask the executives what reports they want to see. This will give you a basis for the data that needs to be gathered. If there is a report that they are currently used to seeing and like then mirror it in Host. Give them access to adhoc reports (similar to pivot tables in excel) in Host so that they can analyze data on their own. 3. Setup scorecards for the data they want to monitor. This can be customized for each user.

- What dashboards did you find particularly useful for your organization and management? [CT] You are not limited to a certain number of dashboards or certain type. Each user can have its own set of dashboards. You can also have multiple tabs of dashboards. The dashboard for the CFO and a department head are probably very different. Host also has the “Decision Hub” this is a feature that automatically can pull exchange rates, publically traded financial data, and 1000+ KPIs. These KPIs can be used in the dashboards or can be used as a reference for calculations.

- How much did you spend for implementation? Annually? If you self-implemented, do you have prior implementation experience? [CT] You will need to speak directly with a Host representative. Your company “model” may be very different for ours and I would not want you to base your decision on our setup. However I will tell you that the sale team was informative and went out of their way to meet with us and discuss the options. They were thorough but not pushy. The price was very competitive compared to other quotes and we are satisfied that we got a good deal.

- How was the scalebility to connect to your ERP system? If no ERP, how well would you say your QB connector work? [CT] We currently have multiple ERP systems and some our ERP tables are very customized so we decided to load actuals by file. We were already receiving actuals through files so it was not a change from our current practice. There are ways to automatically connect to the ERP systems which we plan to explore in the near future.
- How well would you say non-accountants understand the software or the reporting/dashboards coming out of it? [CT] If they understand your current reports and dashboards then they would understand the outputs from Host because you will customize it for your company’s needs. If they can input into an excel worksheet then they would be able to input into Host.

- How would long did it take you to get used to the formula programming in software? How long do you think a heavy excel would take getting used to it? It would not take any time for a person to get used to inputting into a template especially a heavy excel user. An administrator who is creating input template would need a little training but a heavy excel user would grasp the setup quickly. Running adhoc reports a non excel user could understand with a 30 minute training and excel user who has used pivot tables would understand it in 10 minutes. Static reports will take a little bit longer to get used to but can be figured out. If you do have trouble with reports or anything else in Host, the support team is VERY receptive. They also have a community where you can post questions and get responses from other host users.
- How adapative are these products if your doing budgets quarterly (We do this because we are growing so fast)? [CT] Host is very adaptive. You can change your hierarchies as needed. You cannot delete anything that has data posted against it but you can add companies, accounts, products, etc as needed without having to bring a consultant in. You can change the templates and reports as needed. You can create multiple scenarios with in the matter of minutes. You can copy data from one scenario to another. You have the option to map different templates to different scenarios. You can use different templates for each scenario so if you complete a detailed budget and a summarized forecast you can have separate templates to accomplish this. You can also use separate scenarios to model. You can have a “base” scenario which is the inputs from the subsidiaries, copy this scenario and then post topsided adjustments through a template to come up with “best case” and “worse case” scenarios. You can create scenario that use different exchange rates to see how currency will impact your budget. You can pull multiple scenarios into reports for comparisons.

- How user friendly is the FTE planning? [CT] It depends how you set it up in Host. The calculation can be a template input or you could use the HR module that host offers.

- Can any of these products breakout the detail of the budgeted items (e.g. - If someone puts $2,500 a month for software expeditures are you able to include the detail that makes up this $2,500) [CT] Yes, the input template allow sublines. This is a place where the enduser can break out detail for a specific line item. They can also input notes and documents to each line item as needed. The overall document can also have a document attached so if you have specific requirements or guidelines you want them to follow you can attach it to the template itself.

I can not stress enough how flexible the system is. Also, being a Saas company you also will reap the benefits of product releases and you do not have to worry about the cost of a server or maintaining the databases. I also want to to mention that they are extremely customer focused. They want you to succeed and be happy with the product.
I hope that you found this useful. If you have any additional questions about Host please let me know.

Thanks,

Colleen

Sarah Jackson
Title: Associate Editor
Company: Proformative
(Associate Editor, Proformative) |

Mark, you might also want to take a look at this free white paper here at Proformative:

"Financial Planning, Budgeting, and Forecasting - Removing the Hurdles"

https://www.proformative.com/whitepapers/financial-planning-budgeting-forecasting-removing-hurdles

Enjoy!

Best Of Luck... Sarah

Mark Valderrama
Title: Finance
Company: Manufacturing/Ecommerce
(Finance, Manufacturing/Ecommerce) |

This is great information Colleen I really appreciate you taking the time to answer such a detail request. I did forget to ask if the software allows you to show actual detail. I know Adapative demoed this upcoming feature to when they showed me their demo and that is a really attractive feature to have as this is a very common request from budget managers.

Colleen Tebo
Title: Manager
Company: Cervello
(Manager, Cervello) |

Hi Mark,

Yes Actuals are already part of the Host software. There are history columns for the prior year as well as additional columns to pull other scenarios (two year ago, budget, forecast, etc) if needed into the input templates. You also can pull actuals into reports and dashboards.

Don Lightbody
Title: Partner
Company: B2B CFO
(Partner, B2B CFO) |

I've been using PlanGuru for my clients and with the recent improvements to the product, it is working well. With that said, my clients are small to mid-sized companies, many of which work on QuickBooks. The software has many options to use for budgeting any given revenue or expense category, using either financial and non-financial factors. I've used the tool to prepare a budget,then easily downloaded the results to excel to share with a client. The interface with QB works fine. As with any tool, it takes time to learn all the capabilities, but as you say, the cost of PlanGuru is attractive, if that's important. I know the company's owners and have attended a number of webinar training sessions. They keep improving the product, so that's good. Not knowing your business's complexity, size and direction, PlanGuru may be best suited for smaller companies. I believe it would more about complexity than revenue size.

Michael Shannon
Title: Sr. Financial Analyst
Company: McKinstry
(Sr. Financial Analyst, McKinstry) |

Hi Mark,

I work for McKinstry who is a large construction company based out of Seattle. We have been using Adaptive Planning for two budgeting cycles now and have been very satisified with our entire relationship with Adaptive Planning. You listed some detailed questions above, if you'd like I could call you and walk you through our experience with Adaptive Planning.

Thank you,

Mike Shanon

Reginald Newsome
Title: Financial Analyst
Company: NPR Inc
(Financial Analyst , NPR Inc) |

Hi Mark,

I work for National Public Radio; we have been using Host Analytics for the past two years as our financial software system. The system is very user friendly and has the look and feel of excel. I would suggest you take the demo of Host Analytics. I think this would answer most of your questions listed above. If you have further question after you view the demo, I can give you a call and talk more about my personal experience with Host Analytics.

Thanks

Reggie

Jordan Krizman
Title: Marketing Manager
Company: ProfitKeeper
(Marketing Manager , ProfitKeeper) |

Mark,

I can refer you to 2 companies who use Adaptive Planning and love it.
From my understanding, each is different, and Host Analytics is not exactly the same as Adaptive.

Message me for the contact info of these companies. They would be more than happy to answer each of your questions in detail, much like Colleen did in this conversation.

Jordan

Keith Schwartz
Title: CFO
Company: AlterLume, Inc.
(CFO, AlterLume, Inc.) |

Although I have not used the AP product (yet), I did attend a seminar where they fully reviewed the product and it`s capabilities. As a long time fin pro, I was duly impressed. I remember asking myself where this product was when I was doing budgets, juggling excel links, and trying to get the organization to buy into the process. Good stuff...

Jeffrey Chalmers
Title: President, Financial Effectiveness Team ..
Company: Silicon Valley Accountants
(President, Financial Effectiveness Team Leader, Silicon Valley Accountants) |

Hi Mark,

I was an early adopter of Adaptive Planning (in 2007) and will try and respond to your questions.

- How was your training experience with either product? Training was great, we had 1:1 training for the admins. We trained the users, but the system is easy to navigate and the training required was not that extensive.

- How long did it take you implement? Did you self implement or do a guided implementation? It took about 2 weeks. We sent our excel sheets to the implementation team and they created the models for us. Really easy and one the best quality implementations team I have experienced.

- Did you customize at all? (We are not planning to) - I don't believe in customization, but did take full advantage of all vanilla features in the platform.

- How have your department managers accepted the product for budget management and reporting? The department managers really appreciated having information at their fingertips. They reluctantly participated, but we had a really great experience. The first time the CEO looked at the plan with the E-Team, he asked for a X% expense reduction. The E-Team spoke with the department managers and they were able to iterate such that the next day we had a revised plan with the updated forecasts.

What would be your advise for getting executive buy-in? Timely, accurate, real-time data. Its a no-brainer!

- What dashboards did you find particularly useful for your organization and management? We created our own dashboards. They are not that difficult to do. We actually used Adaptive Planning for our 10-Q and 10-K reporting as well as updating our annual/rolling plan.

- How much did you spend for implementation? Annually? If you self-implemented, do you have prior implementation experience? We really didn't spend that much. I would definitely get implementation help as they are much more familiar with the product, you don't have the time to self-implement, and you also get best practices for the same price!

- How quickly would you say you have achieved ROI on the product? We got this the first year. When we integrated with Oracle historical financials and Balance Sheet/Cash Flow, the ROI increased substantially.

- How was the scalebility to connect to your ERP system? If no ERP, how well would you say your QB connector work? We used Oracle connector. It worked as documented with no problems.

- How well would you say non-accountants understand the software or the reporting/dashboards coming out of it? This depends on how you set it up. Most non-accountants requested their special reports and once they understood the reports, they were self-service.

- How would long did it take you to get used to the formula programming in software? How long do you think a heavy excel would take getting used to it? It is easy for an excel jock to program and not that difficult for a non-excel jock to program. If you run into problems, the customer service is awesome and they will help you. They also have some best practices on their knowledgebase web site.

- How adapative are these products if your doing budgets quarterly (We do this because we are growing so fast)? We used to do monthly rolling forecasts. It worked like a charm and manages versions with realtive ease.

- How user friendly is the FTE planning? Once you set-up your personnel model, it is just key punching. They have a great document on advanced HR modeling which you can implement.

- Can any of these products breakout the detail of the budgeted items (e.g. - If someone puts $2,500 a month for software expeditures are you able to include the detail that makes up this $2,500) - You can break out as much detail for any line that you want. We used this feature extensively.

Good luck with your decision. What sets Adaptive Planning apart is really their consulting and customer support teams. I really enjoyed working with them.

Event Questions
Title: Event Questions
Company: Proformative
(Event Questions, Proformative) |

Editor's Note: Here is a Proformative webinar video titled Host Analytics Technology Demo.

Shan Staka
Title: CFO
Company: Frontier Ag Co., Inc.
(CFO, Frontier Ag Co., Inc.) |

Mark,

At my previous company I used adaptive planning for our budget and forecast needs. Overall it is a good product and their staff is very helpful. It took us about 3-5 months to fully set it up then we had one internal employee that became expert with updating and maintaining the application. Even though you can customize access to each segment / department we had difficulties with training the non-accounting staff in order to update and review their respective budgets/forecasts. Another constraint from my point of view was linking and updating the forecasted sales data in respect to stocks, costs, volumes and margins.

Shan

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