Planful acquires Plannuh, connecting finance to marketing performance management

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Finance teams are increasingly aware of the need to involve their colleagues in financial planning and analysis (FP&A). But there is often a disconnect between the metrics tracked by the finance team and those that matter to the business, as some business functions have moved to their own tools to track budgets and plans. Yesterday, financial performance management (FPM) provider Planful took a step forward to close one of those gaps, announcing its acquisition of marketing performance management provider Plannuh.

During a briefing before the news, Rowan Tonkin, CMO of Planful, explained to me the reason for this decision. Marketers want to be able to correct their campaign and activity spend in real time, but data from vendor billing-based finance comes to them weeks too late. Tonkin explains:

Plannuh app has the ability to connect to many common platforms where marketers spend – Google, AdWords, Facebook, LinkedIn and other connected apps, content syndication platforms, media syndication. While we’re spending, I know I’m spending money today that I won’t see in my expenses for maybe 40 days from now, depending on your accounting close date. With this app, I can see that today or tomorrow. I know how much I spent daily and I can adapt.

Without a tool like Plannuh, many marketing teams rely on spreadsheets and other workarounds to track their day-to-day spend, but this rarely gives them the ability to continuously optimize activities and increase revenue. return on investment. They also can’t provide their finance teams with accurate data on expenses, accrued liabilities, and results. Bringing in-depth marketing data as part of Planful plays to the company’s strengths, Tonkin believes:

What we do is we’re really good at financial processes, financial intelligence, bringing financial IQ to the business. It’s just another department that we think we can help in a really unique way.

Connecting marketing to finance

Launched in 2019. Plannuh has established a growing global customer base. Its employees will join the Planful team, while the Plannuh application will be integrated into the Planful platform. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. In a prepared statement, Plannuh Founder and CEO Peter Mahoney, who joins Planful as Managing Director, Marketing Performance Management (MPM) Solutions, said:

I created Plannuh because I saw a need for agile planning and budgeting tools that meet the unique requirements of marketers, while connecting those marketing concepts to financial results. We’ve spent the last few years building a system that delivers best-in-class marketing performance that can be communicated in the language of the business. Planful is the natural partner to link our approach to broader financial planning and analysis processes, reinforcing the strong relationships our clients have developed with their CFO counterparts.

One of the reasons that marketing performance management has developed separately is that most financial products were created before most current marketing spend existed and cannot scale to the granularity that the marketing function needs. Tonkin explains:

No sane accounting person wants to have the level of cost centers that a marketing department actually wants. So there’s all these negotiations going on between finance and marketing, to say, “Oh, we want to follow this, we want to follow that.” And they say, ‘I don’t want to put all this in my ledger.

So you end up with the marketing and then you go and plan the way they want, because they have to. This is how they are managed by their management team, their peers. They need to know which campaigns are working. You can’t run a marketing department if you don’t know you have this idea.

Both Tonkin and Planful CEO Grant Halloran have a background in marketing resource management (MRM), which is the broad category that Plannuh fits into. But Tonkin argues that integrating it into a financial tool like Planful is a way to provide financial expertise that marketing teams can draw on. He says:

Now, that conversation for the marketer is, “This company, Planful, is a finance solution… a tool provider for CFOs.” So now coming up with a unique offer to marketing makes it a lot easier for marketing to have a conversation with the CFO.

Extension of financial expertise to the company

Many Planful customers are already extending the use of Planful to other areas, such as trade promotion planning, sales and operations planning, or detailed planning at the SKU level. But while all of this was built on Planful’s dynamic planning platform, it’s especially great to have a purpose-built solution like Plannuh that can be deployed quickly and already includes the native connectors to data sources. Tonkin says Planful will consider whether the dynamic platform is sufficient for these other use cases, or whether adding additional solutions makes sense. He adds:

Financial planning is different from sales planning is different from marketing planning is different from operational planning. Looking at this, it’s like, what can we do with our main platform? And then, what does advanced planning look like? This is where we will go and explore some of this. We have one of the best workforce scheduling solutions on the market today. And now we believe we have one of the best marketing planning solutions on the market today. And so adding to that stack over time would surely be a smart thing for us to do.

The acquisition is part of Planful’s broader goal of giving finance teams the tools to provide their expertise to colleagues across the business. tonkin says:

No graduate has ever gone to college and got their degree in finance and their MBA, only to get stuck doing variance analysis… They’ve always wanted to partner with these new opportunities, on these theses of how to grow the business? How do we run the business? How do we envision different scenarios? …

There’s a lot of CFOs, a lot of companies, trying to catch up, trying to get to that nirvana that we’ve always talked about, where it’s all about business partnering, consulting, working on the fun stuff that you learn in MBA school, but that you can’t do if you’re stuck doing variance analysis and you’re stuck working in spreadsheets.

But it’s not just about having the right tools in place. Finance teams also need to ensure that their business colleagues know that they are now available to offer more strategic advice. Tonkin explains:

Sometimes it’s not natural for a finance manager to be the outgoing person who walks up and says, “Hey, you know, I’m Fred from finance. Rowan, I’d love to help you with the next ROI project you’re considering. Or, “Let’s do some pricing optimization” or “Let’s work together on modeling the marketing mix.” …

The technology will just do what the technology does. It will stay there and, in theory, will work surprisingly well. But no one on the business side is going to come and participate in this technology, because they’re just not aware of the value it can create. Finance people need to be a lot more proactive… They’ve been stuck doing low value menial tasks. Once they get rid of that, then they have to realize, ‘Oh, I have to change the attitudes in the business, because the business isn’t just going to wake up one day and say, ‘Oh, I I didn’t realize that finance was ultimately more strategic. In fact, you have to go tell the company…

If you can go do that and send that message to businesses, businesses want to be helped. I’m not going to say no to a very smart person with a high level of intelligence and a high financial IQ to help me optimize finances or model the marketing mix or anything. I will accept this help. Everytime.

my catch

No more finance teams saved from spreadsheet hell.

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