How Benchmarking Helps Adaptive Insights Manage Budgets and Targets

How Adaptive Insights Uses OPEXEngine Benchmarking from OPEXEngine on Vimeo.

This post was updated on 3.24.21

Adaptive Insights was a Palo Alto-based provider of next-generation business planning tools, that empowered organizations to transform the planning process into a strategic advantage. The Adaptive Insights Business Planning Cloud platform provided powerful modeling for more than 3,800 organizations around the world and it was acquired by Workday (WDAY) in 2018.

Adaptive Insights, now Workday Adaptive Planning, used OPEXEngine BenchmarkEngine™ in its planning process to better guide discussions with internal business partners.

The company used benchmarking to manage budgets and performance against peers and to set internal targets. They found using the platform especially helpful when a question came up with internal operating managers.

For example, if R&D managers believed that they should receive a larger share of the budget, they used the BenchmarkEngine™ data to show how the R&D department compared to peers. Using the independent, third-party data of OPEXEngine gave them the confidence to make decisions based on data rather than opinion, anecdotal information, or past experiences that may not apply in the current situation.

R&D also used BenchmarkEngine™ when preparing for meetings with the board, during strategy meetings, or discussing Adaptive’s financial plan.

A typical question that would come up in board meetings was “How are we doing against an external benchmark?” With the BenchmarkEngine™ data, managers could present the relevant metrics of companies growing at the same rate as Adaptive and also get insights into what key SaaS metrics like CAC, LTV, or sales and marketing expenses should be for the Adaptive’s size and stage of growth.

In addition to using the OPEXEngine benchmarks on a regular basis with executive management, the board, and individual operating department heads, Adaptive used BenchmarkEngine™ for planning its growth, both at a KPI level and at the individual departmental level. Managers were able to look at expense, headcount, and other metrics for each department for several years out.

Kerman Lau, former Vice President of Finance, Adaptive Insights shared:

“As we looked out a couple of years, it gave us a good sense of where we were as we tried to be best-in-class in terms of these core metrics in the SaaS world.”

As a leading corporate performance management solution (CPM) provider, Adaptive used the OPEXEngine benchmarks in its own application. BenchmarkEngine™ made it easy for Adaptive to upload relevant benchmarks for budgeting and planning purposes directly into the finance organization’s Adaptive model, so the team could model and build plans using benchmarks as the company moved into its new phase of being part of a much larger company, Workday. The benchmarks also helped the Adaptive team provide context to Workday about targets and expenses for companies of its size.

If you would like a tour of BenchmarkEngine™ to see how benchmarking can help you manage budgets, we’d love to show you around. Schedule a walkthrough with our CEO Lauren Kelley, or contact us for more information.

Video Transcription: Kerman Lau: We have used OPEXEngine for over six years here at Adaptive. We use it to benchmark how we’re doing against our peers. It lets us set targets. It’s really helpful when there’s a question that comes up with a business partner.

For example, the R&D guy says, “Our percent[age] of revenue is perfect. Looking at my spending, I think I get too little of the budget.”

So we look at the benchmarks and we say, “No. Really, you are probably a little too high compared to all of our peers at our level.” So that’s really helpful with those discussions.

When we would go to the board for a strategy meeting or are just talking about the plan, typically the question usually comes up, “How are we doing against an external benchmark? [For] companies growing at our growth rate, what should their sales and marketing expenses be? Or with our profile, what should be the CAC? What should be our customer lifetime value? As we look out a couple of years, we can say the best companies run at this level and we are going to hit that in, let’s say 24 months?”

So, it gives us a good sense of where we are as we try to get best-in-class in terms of these core metrics in the SaaS world.

Benchmarking data is traditionally very hard to get because companies don’t like to give it to you so it’s hard to find and it’s hard to aggregate. So, it’s great that OPEXEngine will offer this service where they are doing the hard work of gathering it from their participants and their survey and then making it available anonymously to us as a customer of theirs.