Planful Product Keynote
Announcer: Ladies and gentlemen, please take your seats. Our program is about to begin. Please welcome to the stage Planful Vice President of Product, Robb Nesmith.
Robb Nesmith: Good morning, Las Vegas. It's great to be live here and connect with many of you in person. Thank you so much for attending however you're here. I hope everyone had fun last night. I guess it wasn't too much fun. You made it here this morning, and I really appreciate that. It's like the second night in Vegas. For those of you I haven't met, and as the voice of God mentioned, I'm Robb Nesmith, and I'm VP of product management here at Planful. Let me make a confession, I'm a recovering finance professional. I started off my career at Ernst & Young in the audit practice, and I spent many years implementing ERP, planning, and reporting systems. I've also been a finance business partner at biotech leader Genentech and salesforce. com. So, I understand how much friction there is in the world of finance and accounting. I'm excited to share with you today how Planful is going to make your life easier. But before I do that, I wanted to start with a quick story. For those of you that have daughters, you'll know what I'm talking about. But that for those of you that don't, your first daughter dinner dance is a pretty special moment, and it's a moment that almost didn't happen for me. Although it's a story about a father daughter dinner dance, it starts with skiing. My family loves to downhill ski, and on the day of my oldest daughter's first father daughter dinner dance, we hit the slope prior to the dance. As it turns out, that wasn't probably the best idea. Grace fell and knocked out one of her front teeth. You can imagine the panic. I tried to calm her down and reassure her mostly on her primary concern. " Don't worry, honey, we're still going to make the dance." The triage center at the resort recommended immediate dental care. Finding a dentist on Saturday proved really hard. After what seemed like a thousand phone calls, we finally found one open, but it was in the opposite direction from our home. The roadblocks to make this dance just kept piling up. So, we headed down the mountain with Grace holding onto her tooth, and I had one eye on the road and one eye on the clock. Then the engine shuttered, made a bang and went quiet. We did not actually crash, okay? We did not crash. We did not crash. We silently drifted to the shoulder. I was just like, " Oh my goodness." Maybe I said something more than that. Another obstruction. I couldn't believe it. I checked my phone, no signal. Grace was beside herself, but I told her we can still make it. And I thought to myself, I hope. It was like the fourth car I tried to flag down that stopped, and we asked them to call a tow truck when they got some signal. I'm sure they did immediately, but it took over two hours for that truck to show up. The driver, of course, when we got there, wanted to take us to the repair shop. And I was like, " This may seem a little weird, but could you take us to the dentist?" The dentist gave her the temporary braces she needed to hold her tooth in place, and we made the long journey home in another tow truck. Unfortunately, and probably not a surprise at this point, we missed that dance by several hours. It was just so frustrating how many things had gone wrong as we went. Right? We had a goal, but there just seemed to be endless roadblocks in the way. Does it ever feel like that at work when you're trying to get the budget done or the forecast done? What if we could remove the roadblocks in your finance and accounting processes, fill in the potholes, and get you in a fast and reliable vehicle to take you smoothly where you want to go? No, we're not talking about announcing a partnership with Subaru, okay? What we're talking about is reducing friction. All the best software does this. It takes something complex and makes it simple. Getting powerful things done in just a single click. Uber took the friction out of the taxi experience, making it really easy to call an Uber and really easy to pay for it. Amazon famously took the friction out of the shopping experience. One click ordering. This one I don't love so much because my family loves that one click, and my bank account is a little bit detrimented by it. However, our mission is to eliminate the friction in your finance and accounting processes, making it easy to connect things. What things? There's two. First, the systems that are going to help you in planning, and secondly, the people that are participating in it. We want to make it really easy for you to connect all your data sources to Planful. You've probably had Planful connected to your ERP today. Right? What about your HR systems, your CRM, your purchasing systems? What sys business would help you plan better, more accurately, more quickly? We want to make it dead simple to get to your data so you can do more with your investment and get more value. We already have the best reporting and analytics tool in the market and great ways for you to use your external data to build models. We're going to make it easy to make distribution and consumption of those reports more frictionless. We're going to make it easier to model within Planful. The data has to be easy to leverage once we connect it. Connecting systems is important for our consolidation customer as well. As we grow our customer base internationally, we're also enhancing our support of our customer's international expansion by making it easier to consolidate multinational entities and report in local currencies. The more you connect Planful, the more value you'll get out of it, and the more we're going to make it super easy to connect all those systems. So, that's the first thing we're connecting the computers and the data that's in them. The second thing is the people. We believe finance is a team sport, but customers are telling us all the time how hard it is to get all the players on the field. And what I mean is there are people involved in your financial processes that are not in the system. You're calling them, you're sending spreadsheets back and forth with them to fill out and check. Maybe you're even leaving Post- it notes to each other pre pandemic. They're slowing down the processes because we're operating outside the system, and there's just so much wasted time and friction. Think about how your business people get access to the plan. How do they know if there's room in their budget to hire or make a purchase? Are they coming to you? Imagine if everyone in your business had direct access to essential information they needed to make impactful business decisions. This has been a goal of planning systems for years. So, what's stopping them today. Right? The software industry in our space, frankly ours as well, has historically designed for finance and accounting people, for you, not for business people. We've invested a lot in bringing powerful and flexible tools to professionals like yourselves so we can handle just about any planning scenario out there. But all that power and all that flexibility can create some friction with your business users. So, our unique focus is to create an experience designed for the business users so they can participate in your finance mega processes without training and without friction. We're making it easier to connect computers and bring everyone in Planful so they can collaborate. We have some exciting announcements today, so stay tuned for those. And with the rest of this session, we'll be showing you how we're bringing this vision to life piece by piece. Let's start with the foundation. There are things out there going to underpin everything we do here today. So, I want to invite Hersh Mahavni, that's the hardest part of my presentation, saying that name, vice president of TechOps and Trust, up to talk about how we're reinforcing the foundation for delivering this frictionless future. The stage is yours, Hersh. ( singing)
Hersh Mahavni: Thanks, Robb. I'm Hersh Mahavni. I'm the VP of TechOps and Trust here at Planful. I'm going to talk about the computers bit. To start, I'd like to share with you some of the foundational improvements we're making to deliver you a frictionless future for you. I see my role as giving you, our customers, two big things. First, trust that your data's secure, and second, the confidence that you have the ability to scale. Who here has had any experience with a data breach, either at home or at work? Well, I have, but I assure you it wasn't my fault. My personal data was stolen from an online service, I won't name who, that I used to do business with. And it was a little messy for me to clean up, but thankfully I had taken some steps to secure myself from such an event. But in the end, when the company tried to explain how this happened, they felt that meeting the minimum security and compliance standards was enough, because they used a name brand public cloud provider and a third- party credit card processor who had certifications, they themselves didn't even bother with audits. I'm here to say otherwise, the minimum is never enough. In our industry, security and compliance has always been a big deal. There are standards and certifications that are table stakes in our space, and there are minimum standards that we and other vendors have to meet, and these evolve over time. What was acceptable three years ago is not the same today. Who hear is a security expert? I didn't see very many hands. The good news is that I am. I never want you to have to go to your boss or bosses and talk about data security. That's my job. The security of your data is paramount to Planful, and we're constantly striving to ensure that we meet and exceed the industry standards. To this end, we are SOC 1, SOC 2, SOC 3, ISO 27001, HIPAA BAA and high tech certified. We've earned the TrustArc privacy seal, and we're annually audited against the GDPR and CCPA privacy standards. Now that's a lot of acronyms, and it may not mean much to you. So, let me translate that for you. This means that we've been audited by external auditors against the globally accepted standards for data privacy and security, and meet or exceed those standards. This is not an easy task, and it's not a one time activity. We are constantly working to ensure that we are up to date on the latest guidance. If you can believe it, there are vendors in our space that may have relied extensively onto the security and privacy certifications of their public cloud providers and other third parties. And I'm here to tell you that that's just not good enough. And I'm thankful that as a company, we continue to invest heavily in this area to ensure that you can sleep at night. Using our own infrastructure is a big part of why we can do this, and this allows us to go beyond what public cloud providers can provide. This is also true for performance. By investing in our own infrastructure, we're able to access the most advanced hardware that's not even available in public cloud providers like AWS or Azure. For example, we've recently invested in a storage technology called NVMe. NVMe has been proven to be at least six times faster than traditional SSDs or flash drives, and you, our customers, will see improvements in numerous areas of our product. The potential for technologies like NVMe to speed up your processing tasks and reduce the friction in your processes is enormous. But you can't currently get technologies like that if your vendor relies on public clouds alone. We're at the bleeding edge of technology and constantly seeking out ways to make and improve the customer experience by using the latest technologies as it becomes available. We've all had the experience of buying the latest iPhone or IoT device only for it to slow down and lose battery life over a couple of years. You had that experience? There's a builtin obsolescence in consumer devices. That means that when you buy it, it's the best it's going to be, and it's only going to go downhill from there. In a couple of years, you're going to want to throw it away and buy the latest one, only to start that downward cycle again. Well, one of the great things about Planful is that it's the exact opposite of that. Every month we update the software, and you don't have to wait for a product release for us to improve performance. We do this often and do it without you ever seeing any downtime. It's as if your cellphone got faster, battery life got better, every time you updated the software. So, our investments in infrastructure and technology are going to continue to improve your customer experience, especially as you scale with us. The more you use Planful, bring in more data, the more value you'll see from the platform, all while we deliver enhanced performance in the background. You'll have an endless runway with Planful. Couple of examples of this are Ivy and a major upgrade to our model aggregation engine, both of which we announced at our virtual perform last September. We shared some pretty spectacular early results with you then, both in structured planning and in dynamic planning. And the great news is that these results that were in the lab translate to the real world as well. These technologies are available today in your environments for you to take advantage of. Planful customers grow in many ways. One way we see many of our customers grow is through acquisition. That means complexity of multiple ERPs. Rather than take on a lengthy, complex, and costly project to merge them, more customers are using Planful to consolidate them as a single source of truth completed in a matter of weeks. We're making this even simpler by developing more native ERP connectors and reducing the time it takes to integrate your source systems with Planful. We've also been upgrading our a APIs recently so they're easier to use and more extensive, and there's more to come throughout the year. This will make it easier for you, your IT department, and Planful's partners to create value added solutions where you'll have more systems bringing data into Planful and more ways to export that data into your data lakes and BI tools. We know and love that Planful is a finance owned platform, and we have a vision that we can make something as technical as integrations as simple as point and click, so that connecting systems together is something that you can do yourself. Imagine that. You have an idea of how you can use your CRM data in Planful and in planning, and you're able to connect it yourself. No IT project, no SOW. Just a few clicks and you're done. We'll have more to announce on this later in the year, but reducing the friction of connecting your systems together is a key part of our strategy. I'll now hand it over to Justin Merritt, senior director of solutions consulting, who's going to show you how we're connecting people through technology. Over to you, Justin. ( singing)
Justin Merritt: How's it going? Everybody's excited? I'm glad you guys showed up. All right. So, let's start with a question. I want to ask why. Why is planning so hard? Right? All of us in the room are involved in some way in the planning process, and why is it so hard? I spent a lot of time thinking about this in my past career, working at a large enterprise organization, running a billion- plus- dollar planning process across multiple businesses. And really, I boiled it down to three things, and I think you'll agree with these. One, the people, and then the volume of data, and then finally, the need for accuracy. So, when we think about the people, the people are spread across different geographies. We have tons of people working remote now from all kinds of different locations. We have different backgrounds of people. They want to plan their way, not our way as finance and accounting people, and different skills. You think about the organization and the people who actually own and manage the finances, many of them aren't finance people. They have different skillsets than we do. When you think about the volume of data, we lot of times forget about this. Think about how many accounts you have in your ledger. Think about all the different periods that you plan for, whether it's a 12- month plan, a five- year plan, and think about how that translates into millions of data points, even for the smallest business, every time they go through a planning iteration. And then finally, the need for accuracy, the thing that keeps us up at night. All these variables, how can we ever have confidence that the plan is accurate and error free? So, while we've launched hundreds of new features and enhancements this past year, and we have hundreds more in the pipeline, I want to focus specifically on three that we're launching today, and will together chip away at why planning is so hard. We're doing this by super charging how you use Planful, removing an enormous amount of friction to make it easier than ever for business users to use Planful and compromising nothing, continuing to enhance the most robust functionality of Planful that you love, while at the same time, simplifying everything so that business users can love it, too. So, available today are three monumental improvements to how you use Planful every day. First, a new way to collaborate and make it easier to get everyone to participate in the process. Second, a virtual finance business partner to supercharge the speed of creating the base budget and iterating those additional scenarios. And third, a virtual fact checker that removes the chaos of ensuring the accuracy and helps prevent errors even before they happen. And of course, as we heard from Hersh, we want to wrap everything with end- to- end security and control. So, how do we make it easier to get everybody into Planful? Today we introduce the business user experience. This is a new way to collaborate across the business and experience design specifically for business users with a vision to extend to all things Planful. Let's take a look. So, with the business user experience, providing input is now as easy as clicking a link, as easy as accessing in a Google sheet or an Excel file via email, but doing it directly in the application. This removes the process friction for non- Planful users or occasional Planful users without compromising the control. It creates something people want to use, eliminating the dread and resistance of creating the budget or updating the plan. Additionally, this allows us to create different views of a template, and in a new way control what our business users can and cannot see or update. Think about all the times you've needed to do a scenario. Let's say we need to task the business to cut spend for travel. What happens? You open up the scenario, you let people go in, you tell them to cut their travel, and they try to hide that money in other places. Right? With Views, you can quickly and easily create a view of their template that only gives them access to what you're asking them to update, travel. So, they can't squirrel the money away in some other account, some other place. They either commit to the spend reduction target, or they don't. It's that simple. And so, what if we could take this further? What if we could leverage native intelligence in Planful to remove the guesswork from the plan? Today we can do this > With Projections, every user has their own virtual finance business partner. The power of this to your organization is realized in two primary ways. First, think about all those accounts on the income statement, the balance sheet, even the cash flow that are very predictable, things like rent, utilities, amortization, even things that are a little more complicated, but still highly predictable, things like travel. Now all of these accounts can be automatically planned for by the virtual finance business partner. Working with real customers and real data, we estimate that even for the smallest company, this can reduce the number of data touchpoints across the planning cycle by as much as 80%. Now everyone can take that time and focus on what really matters. The 20% or less, that's just different. Things like what's the plan for the trade show, the acquisition, the global expansion, and all the other less predictable things that happen in the business. And so, what if we can take this further? What if we can elevate business user engagement and accelerate the entire cycle, taking minutes, not days, to iterate a scenario, to support a decision, to be proactive instead of reactive. To do this, there's this additional piece we need. We need our assistant to alert us if something isn't right. We need the ultimate finance control, the validation of the numbers as they're being entered. Not against a dumb rule, a percent or dollar amount change, but against an AI rule. No more left pocket, right pocket. Immediate feedback surfacing issues directly at the time of entry. With Signals, we can finally sleep at night knowing that someone has our back. They're tirelessly looking at every datapoint, every formula, checking, rechecking, flagging anything that's questionable. We no longer need to sort through the millions of numbers collected with every budget, every plan, every scenario, and try to manually scrub all of those millions of data points for errors. Signals does this for us, even on actuals, and even helps us take immediate action, taking us back to the point of entry so that we can fix things immediately, or allowing us to call someone to action and even kick off an impromptu task. With the new user experience, Projections, and Signals, we can finally make planning easy. We can get engagement across the business like never before. We can immediately reduce the volume of manual data touchpoints from millions to thousands or even hundreds. And we can have an elevated amount of control and confidence that the numbers are accurate and error free. Best of all, we now have collaboration everywhere. By improving the business user experience, upgrading the engine with Ivy and leveraging Projections and Signals, we can see detailed history for any number anywhere in the application. And we can leverage the collaboration we love from reports to now engage with anyone, even kicking off workflow directly from a comment anywhere in the application. Simplification without compromise to functionality. It's hard. It's really hard. But we've proven it can be done and will continue to prove it through investing in friction reduction across some of the most complex areas of the product, including integrations like Hersh touched on, dynamic planning, consolidations, and more. The work for us is never done. This is SaaS. So, now let's kick it back to Robb to close us out. ( singing)
Robb Nesmith: Wow. I wish I had access to these features when I worked at salesforce. com. I can only imagine how much time I would've saved, and I can only imagine how much time you're going to save. Add on these capabilities with the performance and trust that Hersh talked about, it's going to be unbeatable. If you want more details on anything you've seen today, please stop by the Planful lounge in the expo hall right across from here. One of our experts can dive into the product. Or if you'd prefer, you can also reach out to your account manager or CSM when you get back to the office. So, back at the beginning, I told you I missed the father daughter dinner dance, my first one. Well, I did make it to the next one, so I nearly missed it. And here's a photo from a year later. We did get to that dance. We did not go skiing before that dance. It was everything we'd hoped it'd be. I have three daughters and I can tell you, it's a real joy to do those. And yeah, we still love to ski. So, thanks everyone. Have a great Perform. I look forward to seeing you on the dance floor tonight at JEWEL.
Join Planful’s product leaders as they reveal new innovations to help accounting, FP&A, and finance teams take decisive action to drive business priorities. You’ll see the latest product enhancements in action and get a sneak peek into what’s coming to Planful over the next few months.