Case Study

US company engages ClearPoint on start-up that goes global.

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When casting about for a business to take on a significant software development project an organisation can traditionally spend many months and much money searching for the best candidates. But Guy Haddleton, Anaplan CEO, is not your traditional executive. An instinctual operator with many successes already behind him, Guy places great store in the right people, so when someone he worked with recommended someone he should work with the engagement window narrowed appreciably. He explains how Anaplan came to engage with ClearPoint.

“A trusted colleague recommended their work. It was enough to convince me to spend an air fare for my chief architect Michael Gould to fly down from San Francisco and to meet with them.” Upon first meeting, ClearPoint were transparently suitable, and the engagement process began.

The fact that ClearPoint was relatively new and based in New Zealand had no impact on the decision for Guy. He liked and trusted the people, and that was that. The initial meeting took place on a Friday: by the following Monday ClearPoint had a team in place, ready to engage.

“The team had a depth of skills, experience and a working style that was just brilliant. They delivered the project on time, within budget and bug free.”Guy Haddleton, CEO, Anaplan.

The journey

Anaplan is described by Guy as a “next generation Business Intelligence platform.” Rather than data being contained in spreadsheet silos, Anaplan enables the various channels of a business – finance, sales, executives, analysts – to store and share their business data in the cloud. Guy had successfully developed a similar concept 20 years ago, which he sold to COGNOS for US$160m cash in 2003. Advances in technology – particularly the idea of working in the cloud – encouraged him to “get the original team back together” and create the next generation business analytics technology that was to become Anaplan.

ClearPoint were tasked with developing the Service Delivery Platform (SDP) that allows Anaplan clients to interact with Anaplan’s next generation core technology via a modern Software as a Service (SaaS) model. “We were the platform and they built on top of that,” Guy explains. “They were responsible for developing a lot of the client-facing tools as well, log ons, authentication and so forth.”

ClearPoint engaged the flexible Feature Driven Development (FDD) process, something that Guy says was critical to the success of the engagement. FDD involves scheduling and delivering the project in rolling fortnightly blocks, ensuring complete transparency, clear and achievable milestones and a healthy momentum to the overall development.

For Anaplan, ClearPoint favoured building on existing technology employing both cloud-based “best-of-breed” Software as a Service (SaaS) providers and Open Source components. This reflects ClearPoint’s core philosophy of “best fit for the client” and allowed an integrated solution to be developed quickly. Additionally, ClearPoint developed an infrastructure design that was vendor-independent, technology-gnostic, and IT Architecture-led. As Anaplan grows, the software technology and infrastructure platform is ready and available to grow with them.

“My experience has always been that it’s the quality of the individual people that you assemble around you that will make a project succeed, and these guys built a team with a depth of knowledge, expertise and experience that was exceptional.”

The outcome

Strategic thinking and FDD software development methodologies were key in the success of the Anaplan project. Key, also, was the flexible approach and adaptive strategies undertaken by what Guy considers to be a highly skilled team with great depth of knowledge and experience. “I’ve got the guys doing another piece of work at the moment that’s very important to our business and that flexibility of approach is why they’re there. They can scale right down and back up again as we need it.

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