Pigment – a rising star in the planning tool sky?

The market for tools to support planning and forecasting processes is quite fragmented. The German analyst firm BARC reviews 13 tools in more detail and lists a further 16 tools in its yearly "Integrated Planning & Analytics DACH" report. The international analysts at Gartner now also have over 15 tools in their "quadrant" for financial planning and mention many more. The market is therefore confusing. Is the new tool Pigment a rising star in the planning tool sky?

In our view, this heterogeneity and confusion in the market is because there is no tool that is superior to the others in all important criteria. Every tool has its strengths and weaknesses – be it in terms of performance, data integration, core functionalities or price. A whole range of larger companies, at least in German-speaking countries, continue to rely on Excel solutions or use their financial consolidation tool to collect planning data. Both approaches have significant disadvantages.

Shaking up the market

The big trend in planning software over the last 10 years has been the cloud. The best-known pioneer here was Anaplan, but everyone else has followed suit and now also or only offers cloud versions of their products. However, even as a pioneer, Anaplan has not yet been able to take on a leading role in the German-speaking world, although it is certainly a tool with many strengths. SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC) is now probably the most widespread here – not least because of its proximity to the market-dominating ERP platform S/4HANA.  But SAC is not a perfect tool either. 

For several months now, planning tool insiders have been talking about a promising newcomer that could shake up the market: The tool Pigment. Pigment has been "recognized" by Gartner since 2024, and in the BARC Score 2023 (Integrated Planning & Analytics), Pigment is already listed under "Other Vendors", although its activities in German-speaking countries have so far been limited. 

Pigment was founded in 2019 with the goal of conquering the market for planning software. It is a European company and certainly one of the newest tools on the market – at least among those with customers who are already using the tool productively. The positive feedback from these first customers and the rapid growth of Pigment have certainly contributed to the attention mentioned above. 

Illustrative Screenshots Pigment planning tool (courtesy of Pigment)

Just another planning tool?

But what makes Pigment so special? Or is it just another planning tool that wants to overcome the Excel world? How does Pigment differ from Anaplan, for example? 

A major advantage of Pigment is that it is highly flexible to use and no specific IT skills are required for implementation or maintenance. It is certainly debatable whether Pigment is even simpler than other tools, but simplicity is an important criterion for all FP&A teams that want to develop and operate planning solutions largely independently (without IT or IT consultants).  

Another strength of Pigment is its performance. There is no limit to the number of dimensions. Pigment itself says it is "built for volume". This is no small thing, because for many tools, performance is a real challenge. Especially when users switch from Excel to a professional planning tool, performance is perhaps the most important acceptance criterion for a new tool. Pigment seems to be the first to come close to the performance leader IBM. 

The biggest question mark is about data integration. Of course, the various plans within Pigment are connected in real time. But when it comes to integrating data from outside Pigment, tools that have been on the market for some time seem to have an advantage. Although Pigment has many standard connectors and also an SAP ERP connector, which is essential for the German-speaking market, the competitors are at least on a par here and certainly superior, in the case of SAC. 

​The last major point of comparison might be pricing. Pigment advertises the fact that they have no hidden costs and offer all-inclusive prices. But this is not a unique selling point. Even though the pure cloud tools for planning and forecasting are quite expensive, at least in the list prices. This is where Pigment can establish itself as a more cost-effective alternative.  

However, like other cloud providers, Pigment's argument here is primarily based on the total cost of ownership. The return on an investment in Pigment software comes, on the one hand, from the decommissioning of expensive legacy tools and, on the other hand, from lower costs for licenses and tool support as well as maintenance for the Pigment platform. In addition, by streamlining the planning and forecast processes, fewer resources are tied up in these processes.

The race is on

At Horváth, we monitor the BI market in general and the market for planning tools in particular very closely. We currently do not see any tool that has been able to significantly set itself apart from the competition yet,but are monitoring Pigment closely. It will be interesting to see how other providers continue to position themselves against more modern solutions, such as Pigment, in the future.  

The race is on – and it remains exciting. We assume that practically all companies will rely on professional planning and control platforms in the coming years, as this is a prerequisite for data-driven corporate management. Specialized providers (e.g. only for workforce planning) are likely to lose market share to cross-functional platforms. Accordingly, the market potential is enormous – for all tool providers of platforms for planning and forecasting solutions.  

Klehr, D.