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        Robert Kugel's Analyst Perspectives

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        The Buyers Guide for Business Planning Classifies and Rates Vendors

        I am happy to share insights gleaned from our latest Buyers Guide, an assessment of how well vendors’ offerings meet buyers’ requirements. The Ventana Research 2023 Business Planning Buyers Guide is the distillation of a year of market and product research by Ventana Research. Drawing on our Benchmark Research, we apply a structured methodology built on evaluation categories that reflect the real-world criteria incorporated in a request for proposal to Office of Finance vendors supporting the spectrum of Business Planning. Using this methodology, we evaluated vendor submissions in seven categories: five relevant to the product experience Adaptability, Capability, Manageability, Reliability and Usability and two related to the customer experience TCO/ROI and vendor Validation. 

        This research-based index evaluates the full business and information technology value of Business Planning software offerings. I encourage you to learn more about our Buyers Guide VR_BG_Business_Planning_Logoand its effectiveness as a vendor selection and RFI/RFP tool. 

        This Buyers Guide research evaluates the following vendors that offer products for Business Planning as we define it: Anaplan, Board, IBM, Infor, insightsoftware, OneStream Software, Oracle, Planful, Prophix Software, SAP, Vena Solutions Wolters Kluwer and Workday. 12 of these 13 suppliers responded positively to our requests for information and provided completed questionnaires and demonstrations to aid our analysis of their Business Planning products. Along with briefings and information where provided, all online material that was generally available was used for the analysis. This report includes products generally available as of August 31, 2023. 

        The following vendors declined to participate or did not respond to our invitation: insightsoftware. To organizations considering products from these vendors, we recommend extra scrutiny as part of the software assessment because they did not make their technology available for the Value Index evaluation process. 

        Unlike many IT analyst firms that rank vendors from an IT-only perspective or focus on a specific type of Business Planning, Ventana Research has designed the Buyers Guide to provide a balanced perspective, rooted in an understanding of business drivers and needs. This approach not only reduces cost and time but also minimizes the risk of making a decision that is bad for the business. 

        Using the Buyers Guide will enable your organization to achieve levels of efficiency and effectiveness needed to optimize Business Planning. 

        We urge organizations to do a thorough job of evaluating Business Planning offerings in this Buyers Guide as both the results of our in-depth analysis of these vendors and as an evaluation methodology. The Value Index can be used to evaluate existing suppliers, plus provides evaluation criteria for new projects. Using it can shorten the cycle time for an RFP. 

        The Buyers Guide for Business Planning in 2023 finds Oracle first on the list, followed by SAP and Anaplan.  

        Companies that rated in the top three of any category including the product and customer experience dimensions earn the designation of Leader.  

        The Leaders in Product Experience are:  

        • Oracle.
        • SAP.
        • IBM. 

        The Leaders in Customer Experience are: 

        • Oracle. 
        • SAP.
        • Anaplan. 

        The Leaders across any of the seven categories are: 

        • Oracle, which has achieved this rating in five of the seven categories. 
        • Anaplan and SAP in four categories. 
        • Board, IBM and OneStream in two categories.
        • Planful and Workday in one category. 

        The overall performance chart provides a visual representation of how vendors rate across product and customer experience. Vendors with products scoring higher in a weighted rating of the five product experience categories place farther to the right. The combination of ratings for the two customer experience categories determines their placement on the vertical axis. As a result, vendors that place closer to the upper-right are “exemplary” and rated higher than those closer to the lower-left and identified as vendors of “merit.” Vendors that excelled at customer experience over product experience have an “assurance” rating, and those excelling instead in product experience have an “innovative” rating. 


        Note that close vendor scores should not be taken to imply that the packages evaluated are functionally identical or equally well-suited for use by every organization or process. Although there is a high degree of commonality in how organizations handle Business Planning, there are many idiosyncrasies and differences that can make one vendor’s offering a better fit than another. 

        After more than a decade of technological advances, all the products we evaluated are feature-rich, but not all the capabilities they offer are equally valuable to users. Moreover, the existence of too many capabilities may be a negative factor for an organization if it introduces unnecessary complexity. Nonetheless, an organization may decide that a larger number of options is a plus, especially if some of them match its established practices or better support a new initiative that is driving the purchase of new software. 

        Features, functions and vendor assessments are not the only deciding factors. For example, an organization may face budget constraints such that the TCO evaluation can tip the scale to one vendor or another. This is where the Value Index methodology and appropriate weighting can be applied to determine the best fit of vendors and products to an organization’s specific needs. 

        Our firm has made every effort to encompass in this Buyers Guide the overall product and customer experience from our Business Planning blueprint, which we believe reflects what a well-crafted RFP should contain. Even so, there may be additional areas that affect which vendor and products best fit an organization’s particular requirements. Therefore, while this research is complete as it stands, utilizing it in your own organizational context is critical to ensure that products deliver the highest level of support for your projects. 

        You can find more details on our site as well as in the Buyers Guide Report. 


        Robert Kugel


        Robert Kugel
        Executive Director, Business Research

        Robert Kugel leads business software research for Ventana Research, now part of ISG. His team covers technology and applications spanning front- and back-office enterprise functions, and he personally runs the Office of Finance area of expertise. Rob is a CFA charter holder and a published author and thought leader on integrated business planning (IBP).


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