Infosys’ blog on industry solutions, trends, business process transformation and global implementation in Oracle.

June 30, 2021

Supply Chain Planning in post Covid World - how Anaplan thinks

 

Towards the end of the 2019, when tensions in the China-US trade war escalated and China was practically being held captive, then the whole world could not understand what a terrible time is awaiting for them due to Covid-19 outbreak. Gradually lockdown was announced in all the countries. When all countries were busy in building their infrastructure to fight against covid-19, this sudden lockdown put the whole supply chain system in a strange crisis. It seemed no one had signed up for this challenge but everyone has had to suddenly fall into competition. The sudden shutdown of production units and the increase in demand revealed weaknesses in the supply chains and production strategies. Shortages of essential items such as pharmaceuticals and medical supplies demonstrated their inefficiency  in meeting demand for these items. In this situation, companies had to develop a more resilient supply chain while keeping the main challenge in the form of market competition.

 

Management should first analyze its vulnerabilities before considering a series of steps. Although some steps may have been taken long before the pandemic actually struck. The visibility of demand, and the ability to make decisions at speed with the right players in the room are the utmost requirement.

 

Uncovered risks and address to mitigate

 

Identifying vulnerabilities: Risks may be hidden in many places, which may require a lot of digging. This is very much time-consuming and expensive process too. But it is much more important to be aware of a disarmament that can bring a business to a halt. Therefore, the mapping process should be aimed at categorizing groups as either low-risk, medium-risk, or high-risk. So, here in supply chain, high-risk can be considered as non-availability of an alternative sources to recover from the disruption. It also makes an impact that how long can you keep your manufacturing unit active without procuring raw materials? It's also a million-dollar question about the replenishment cycle which involves distribution channels, replenishment time, delivery cost and demand patterns.

In order to answer these questions, manufacturers should know whether their manufacturing capacity is flexible enough to reconfigure and redeploy as needed or whether it is highly customized and hard to replicate.

 

Diversifying Supply sources and manufacturing units: This is very important to address this point of diversifying supply sources and manufacturing units. Adding multiple locations instead of single factory, supplier or region always reduce the risk of halting the business. Management should also look into producing the materials within countries or adopt policy to expand atleast more than one country to avoid additional delivery times, international hazards due to trade war or any lockdown situation within that country due to pandemic. Thus, it will reduce the dependency on any particular region.

So, if we divide our focus according to time horizons then we have short term, mid-term and long term problems of supply chains to solve. This diversification of manufacturing units is a long term solution and alternative sources is a part of mid-term solution. During the immediate or short term risk mitigation process, organizations must intensify their focus on workforce planning since quarantine and travel restrictions mean a longer time period to ramp up to full capacity. Also, focus on tier-1 supplier risk and update inventory policy accordingly in order to focus on production scheduling agility.

 

Process Innovations and movement towards Automation: It has been seen that many industries have already started realizing their need to move from traditional forecasting to scenario based forecasting because the historical data of last few months sometimes are not helping them to get a good indication. They have started to unfreeze their organizational routines and revisit the design assumptions and other orthodox organizational processes. Focus has also been shifted to identify bottlenecks to build mitigation measures. More connected planning approach has been taken to achieve real time data in order to enable agile planning process. External indicators and predictive modelling are also being used for more accurate planning.

 

In the era of declining human interventions and more focus to social distancing, companies might invest more on robotic process which can reduce human interventions sharply in preparing products for shipping, with more accurately.




How Anaplan supports:

Business can plan effectively and manage supply chains, build connections, and enable partners to share business goals if supply chain planners can access and utilize one cloud-based platform. Leveraging Anaplan's connected planning environment can enable to centrally manage inventory, supplies, staffing in the new normal. Anaplan provides a widespread portfolio of applications to match between supply and demand, empower S&OP (sales and operations Planning) processes. Successful decision making within supply chain can significantly impact on cash flow, capital and distribution patterns. It also supports to reallocate reusable inventory in a rapidly changing environment. Comparing actuals vs forecasts, reassessing inventory requirements, evaluating emergency staffing with the ability to identify alternative suppliers & shipment flows of the product and providing new projections at the same time are the advantages of Anaplan. Gradually, Anaplan helps to move traditional supply chains to a digital supply aspect to dramatically improve in real-time end-to-end visibility, collaboration, responsiveness, agility and optimization planning.

                                 



June 28, 2021

A GAAP Compliance solution for Intercompany Accounting from Oracle eBusiness Suite

Accounting concepts revolve around the concept of Generally Accepted Accounting Principle/Policies often referred to as GAAP. The two most fundamental principles among these are

• Revenue recognition and
• Matching COGS (Cost of the goods sold)


In a typical manufacturing and distribution setup environment, intercompany dropship scenario is the need of the hour (Also referred as Factory Direct Process in some cases). In an intercompany drop ship case, the intercompany invoice creation is not interrelated or dependent on the external customer invoice creation. This can create a mismatch between the revenue and COGS at the Selling Operating Unit (OU) and hence will not be of GAAP compliance.

This PoV provides insights on how the standard features in Oracle E-Business Suite (Oracle) can help facilitate the Selling Operating Unit (OU) to fulfill this requirement in drop ship scenarios.

Continue reading " A GAAP Compliance solution for Intercompany Accounting from Oracle eBusiness Suite " »

June 25, 2021

Anaplan Business Continuity (BCP) & Disaster Recovery (DRP) Model

 

 

Anaplan Business Continuity (BCP) & Disaster Recovery (DRP) Model

 

Delta Airlines, California DMV, Breazeale Sachse & Wilson LLP etc. - these are few names which we don't get to hear much however all these companies have a common story to share.

So, what is this common story? The answer is simple - Improper business continuity & disaster recovery plan resulting in huge financial losses & goodwill.

We must understand the fact that no matter how careful we are, disaster can strike any business, anytime, anywhere. All we can do is take proper precaution & learn from experience.

 

What is Business Continuity?

In today's world, organizations need to protect themselves from unforeseen business interruptions & its financials impact. In simpler terms, a business continuity plan ensures that your business remains operational when a natural disaster or any other crisis affects your business.

For example - Year 2020 was a watershed moment for us due to the COVID pandemic. Many organizations had to move from Work from Office "WHO" to Work from Home "WFH" model while others had to shut shop temporarily or permanently due to improper business continuity plan. It's important to have a proper business continuity & disaster recovery plan in place to safeguard organization's asset, people & property.

 

Why Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery plan fails?

To be honest, no one would like to create a business continuity plan which is likely to fail eventually.

So, the question is why a well-defined thought-out plan fails? Let's talk about some common reasons on why business continuity & disaster recovery plan fails -


  • Improper risk assessment including cyber attacks

  • Lack of proper testing before deploying the plan

  • Undefined strategies

  • Ineffective recovery strategies including backups

     

Some key example where business continuity plan failed -

 

  • Delta Airlines - Back in 2016, the company suffered a huge IT infrastructure outage, resulting in $100 million loss in revenue. The disaster could have been avoided if the company had an effective data recovery strategy in place & a modern back up system

     

  • California DMV - In the same year, California DMV had a huge malfunction when their backup system went offline due to power outage. The DMV was offline for the consumer for several days damaging company's reputation

     

  • Breazeale Sachse & Wilson LLP - Back in 2005, Hurricane "Katrina" battered the east coast of the United Sates causing widespread damage & destruction. Breazeale Sachse & Wilson LLP, the law firm lost all their confidential documents because they used to keep everything in hard copies at site. This could have been avoided if they had a proper backup & recovery system

 

 

 

Now that, we understand what business continuity plan is & its importance, let us discuss on how Anaplan would like to address some these issues -

 

A.  How Anaplan Offices are spread across globe?

Anaplan has 17 offices covering multiple continents & time zones. Its global headquarter is based out of San Francisco, California; however, its cores development & technical support team is based out of York, UK. In event of any unforeseen circumstances, all development & technical team can work remotely using secure VPN connections, to provide ongoing support.

 

B.  Data Centers & Back up Model

Anaplan Infrastructure is primarily hosted on Equinix International Business Exchange (IBX) data centers, based out of Virginia, and Amsterdam with 24x7 x 365 coverage support. To ensure data integrity, all applications & customer data are stored within the data center itself.

All backups (Workspace & Models) are maintained at both primary data center & various AWS facility like Ireland or Oregon etc. In event of any disaster, the secondary infrastructure can be activated with minimal downtime & disruptions.

 

 

 

 

C.  Disaster Recovery Plan

In event of any major catastrophe resulting in complete loss of primary data centers, the backup AWS facility will be used as a recovery tool. Anaplan runs a disaster recovery plan on a quarterly level & it's well documented

 

D.  How to prevent Cyber and physical attacks?

To counter increasing number of cyber-attacks, Anaplan has contracted Verisign to mitigate DDoS. Any unauthorized connections can be restricted by built-in firewall. Customer can access Anaplan only via secure encrypted HTTPS / TLS connections. To ensure secure infrastructure, vulnerability scans& penetration tests are performed regularly.

The data centers have 24x7 monitoring including CCTVs, multiple authentication points, biometric scans etc. to ensure a complete secure environment.

 

Conclusion

Anaplan Infrastructure is quite resilient with primary & secondar backups to ensure that the business continuity doesn't get effected in event of any eventualities. In case of major disaster, the disaster recovery plan can be implemented by the support staff ensuring ongoing operations. It's also important to revaluate strategy in case if there are any short comings with the current system, so that the same can be dragonized & implement quickly.


June 15, 2021

Dive into model building and learn how to create Anaplan models

When one starts learning Anaplan, we should be familiar with the basic terminology to build good foundation with Anaplan. We often hear some basic words, and which will be throughout your Anaplan journey (APPHUB, WORKSPACE, MODELS, DIMENSIONS, LISTS, MODULES, LINEITEMS, DATA IMPORTS/EXPORTS, DASHBOARDS). There are many functions and resources in Anaplan which will help build models and start working with various types of data. To learn Anaplan, we will have to explore modelling and model building articles.

A separate workspace is given to each company and may contain its own users and any number of models. The basic structure of an Anaplan model is built by Lists, Line items and Modules which represents each aspect of a business. Dimensions in Anaplan can be linked and updated with data from another model whereas models are independent. A group of related items are called Lists e.g., ppl in a department, products, regions, or entities. These are the basic elements in Anaplan, as they define the structure and content of a model. A dimension is one which measures or defines the characteristic of your data. It can be calculated or changed to help answer business, observe market trends, or assess various situations for planning purposes. Modules are one of the components of Anaplan model and comprised of lists, pages, line-items, and timescales.

End users' primary interface is called as 'Dashboard'. A dashboard consists of grids and charts published from modules in a model. There is no limit for grids and charts in a dashboard you can have as many as you like, and these elements can be published from different modules. A separate view is created in a module to publish it to dashboard. Versions dimension enables you to compare actuals and forecast data. Charts will add good visual impact to your data and help us to spot areas of improvement and successes. Different kinds of charts are provided based on the data that we are working (Column charts, Bar charts, Pie charts, Line charts, waterfall charts, combination charts, Timeline charts, funnel charts). Based on the data that we have we can choose appropriate charts to create different kinds of reports.

There are two types of approaches while building the models, top-down or bottom-up. Either it is top-down or bottom-up approach, need to identify the business functionality. The basic lists that makeup the organization are regions, products, and ppl. Later you can keep on adding dimensions to the data to enable us to see the organization in various ways. List hierarchy helps to support model structure and workflow.

Users in a workspace might be common to all the models in that workspace, components that belong to the model such as dimensions are local to that model, but these components can be linked and update with data from other model. Model recalculates automatically when some change is made to the data. Data to the model is entered manually or using import actions or derived from other line items within the model using calculations. Data imports within models happen using command or import actions between models. Within the model based on the functional area, modules are grouped together to identify them easily.

In Anaplan one should follow certain best practices while creating lists, modules, and formulae. While building the logic, one should not use SUM and LOOKUP in the same formula as it hits the performance of the model. Minimum properties should be created in the lists or instead we can create separate modules for replacing those properties. Within the modules, try to use TEXT format for very less number of line items. In summary tab, using SUM will also impact the performance of the model. Using TIME RANGE and SUBSETS will help in increasing the model performance. Break the very big formulae into smaller by creating multiple line items thereby increasing the performance of the model. So, these are some of the optimizing technics in Anaplan.

Now, new UX has come up with few new additional features for the users. There is a provision to access multiple models and create a dashboard as per business requirement. Updates are reflected in new UX dashboard immediately as you update the views in the model that are initially used to build the dashboards. We will look forward to get new updates from Anaplan going forward.



May 4, 2021

ALM - Anaplan Lifecycle Management

ALM

Anaplan Lifecycle Management

 

Thanks to Anaplan's process of ALM, users can easily manage their models. It's easy to understand and easier to use like every other function of Anaplan. So, let's dig deep into ALM.

 

ALM?? What is it? 

ALM is the process of managing the development, testing, deployment, and ongoing support and enhancements of the models.

But before we go to what ALM is, lets understand a few features.

u Standard mode, Deployed mode, Revision Tags, Compare and Sync.

 

Standard and Deployed Mode

Standard: This mode is for model building and for developing the model where the data can be changed. Used in Dev model.

Deployed: This mode blocks any modification being made to the structural information. Used in Prod and Test model.

 

 

 

Revision Tags

u They capture a model's structural information and not its Prod data, at a point in time.

u This can only be used in models in standard mode

u After making at least a single structural change, we can revert a model back to the most recent revision tag.

Is it possible to Create a Model from a Revision Tag?? 

Yes, it is, if you are Workspace Admin (well, that goes without saying because if you weren't you wouldn't be able to do half of the Anaplan magic tricks explained here).

You can also revert a model to the most recent revision tag, removing any unsaved structural changes made by anyone. Lucky for us, the model's production data, contents like production lists, will not be affected. It is used to discard undesired changes made in a source or development model. However, this action is permanent and cannot undo it. Comparison of revision tags between the same models is possible but synchronizing them is not an option.

 

Comparison and Synchronization


When two models, source and target, are structurally compatible, structural changes made to the source model can be synchronized with the target model.

 

What can Compare and Synchronize do? 

The major flow of data is from development model to a test model where they are in standard and deployed mode respectively, from test model to production model where both are in deployed mode and from development model to production model where they are in standard and deployed mode respectively.

Compare and Synchronize is a three-way process:

Firstly, choose two models to compare, the source and the target. The target model here being Current_Accruals_Prod_ALM_R1.0 is compared to the source model here being Current_Accruals_Dev_ALM_R1.0 and changes are moved from the source model to the target model.

Secondly, from the source model select a revision tag and compare it against the latest revision of the target model. We will get to see all the differences in the changes made between the two revision tags.

Finally, once you synchronize the models, all the changes from the source model are passed on to the target model. A successful sync will mean that the models have the same revision tag.

Voila! A novel revision tag is created in the target model.

 

 


 


 In the target model, the change will be made, and the revision tag will be added.

 


Important Principles:

·        Models must be structurally alike or compatible. This is only possible if the target model's revision tag is an earlier version of the source model's revision tag.

·        Permissions required

·        All structural changes are passed on

·       One-Way Sync - changes may be passed on from source to target models and not vice versa.

·        One-to-One Sync - can pass on many changes to only one target at a time.

·        Do not make structural changes to target models.

 

Confirm that following have been checked in the source model before synchronization:

 production lists contain operational data

·        production imports are selected

·        revision tag is created with the latest changes in the source model


The hotfix can be managed without impacting the work in progress as shown in:https://community.anaplan.com/t5/Best-Practices/Save-Incomplete-Changes-when-Synchronizing-in-ALM/ta-p/33595



Application Lifecycle Management Summary

With the increase in the use of various Anaplan operations, so does the complexity increase to replicate each change from a deployment environment through a testing environment and finally to a production environment.

ALM is that feature of Anaplan that provides effective solutions to these complications. With ALM, you will be able to promote changes through development, testing, and production using a controlled and consistent approach. The capabilities of ALM is such that you will be able to create and govern enterprise-grade applications which will help adjust and alter to meet the rapidly changing business wants.

ALM can be called as the modus operandi of handling the development lifecycle of applications, from design stage to deployment to business users using the application. There are broadly categorized into the following stages:

Design, all you need according to your business demands. You may create user stories; structure, criteria for success, and major deliverables, schema diagrams, modules, and data flows; wireframes; and prototypes to achieve the desired projects goals. Chart out the models required.

Build: create models required to make up the application.  This stage being early in the process, you may not have any production data and so it's not necessary to load application. Sanitized data can be used while creating modules, lists etc.

Test, test, and test in a million different ways. Usually, functional and performance testing is done and if that passes, the next step is to do user acceptance test for the application built. You can use a separate workspace for testing.

Deployment is that stage where the business users get to use the application. To avoid all mishaps production application will be in an independent workspace. Production data can be imported from an external source or data hub.

Once the deployment is settled the application will have to deal with enhancements, bugs to resolve, new models to bear some of the weight of the existing one, the development lifecycle will be perennial.

Thus, in a very efficient manner, ALM helps us in managing different models.

 

 

April 12, 2021

Anaplan Tips & Tricks

Anaplan Tips & Tricks

 

This document outlines some of the tricks to use (for users) and configure (for model builders) Anaplan application effectively. Look for Underlined and Italic text throughout the document for helpful tips.

1.  Know the application: For users, first thing is to know the application and here's a quick introduction to how Anaplan looks like:

 

1.1. Landing page of Anaplan: The models are represented in the tiles - this view can be easily changed by clicking three parallel horizontal lines on top right of screenshot. Chose a view which best suits you.