Customers & Industries: EpiX Analytics

Consultancy Creates @RISK Models to Capture Measurable Benefits

  • Industry: Utilities
  • Product(s): @RISK
  • Application: Risk management and analytical process

Summary

EpiX Analytics, makers of ModelAssist, use @RISK and other Palisade software products to define a risk management or analytical process and then implement it into software for clients in infrastructure, logistics, pharmaceuticals, health, and more.

Excel integration makes [@RISK] very intuitive to new users. Our clients usually feel more comfortable with a model they can understand and potentially modify after delivery. It's a very mature product, so it's reliable.
Dr. Francisco Zagmutt, EpiX Analytics

Epix Analytics uses Palisade software to build models for their clients, going from simple spreadsheets to fully automated standalone and cloud applications. Example projects include sales force territory optimization for Pfizer and forecasting sales commissions for an electronics manufacturer.

“We’re able to create measurable benefits that range from big picture items such as strategic advantages, all the way to more operational advantages such as cost reductions, risk mitigations, and more accurate forecasting and planning,” says Dr. Francisco Zagmutt, managing director at Epix Analytics.

They also often use it for training courses as well as in some of their research projects. “The visual interface is an excellent tool to teach during courses and also to communicate ideas to clients,” Zagmutt explains. “This is much more intuitive to our clients than showing them code. Our work requires a deep understanding of probability theory and simulation methods; this is why even though all our consultants have PhDs and years of experience in analytics, we still invest in continuous education and training. Communicating some of these advanced concepts and results to non-technical audiences such as senior management can be a challenge, but Palisade’s tools really help putting these concepts in easy to understand graphical and statistical summaries.”

Natural Gas Example: EpiX consultants use @RISK for greater accuracy in demand and capacity forecasting

Zagmutt uses an experience with a client as an example of how important @RISK was in providing accurate solutions: a large natural gas company asked Epix Analytics to increase the accuracy of their current demand and capacity requirements forecast to be used in mid- to long-range planning of large infrastructure investments. The model the client had been using required information from multiple departments, dedicated analysts, and several rounds of data collection to populate it. “However, their model didn’t incorporate the key uncertainty drivers of future gas demands, and wasn’t updated or validated using the most current data” he says.

Epix Analytics experts first audited the existing model and adopted some of its logic, while also performing a statistical analysis of their historical demand drivers to find the best predictors of historical demands. The final model used Bayesian and classical statistical methods and was incorporated natively in @RISK, allowing the client to update the model inputs with the click of a custom button in Excel. The model also allowed the client to incorporate expert opinion, and included some creative features that let the client include multiple demand scenarios based on other engineering tools used in-house, without having to rely on large IT investments to connect these tools. “Beyond the ease of use of our new tool, a big eye opener for everyone was to discover unexpected drivers of the uncertainty in forecast,” says Zagmutt. “These were not apparent until we used some of the advanced sensitivity options in @RISK, and these allowed the client to refocus their data collection and quality control efforts to improve their planning process. The updated model is now routinely used in the planning process, and, thanks to the manual and training material that Epix provided with the model, it has also been successfully learned by new team members.”

The Benefits of @RISK

The Epix Analytics team sees multiple advantages to using Palisade software on client projects. “Excel integration makes it very intuitive to new users,” says Zagmutt. “Our clients usually feel more comfortable with a model they can understand and potentially modify after delivery.” He notes that @RISK has a broad user-base in the risk analysis community and is well accepted for serious analytic work. “It’s a very mature product, so it’s reliable,” Zagmutt says. “Also, we know the developers and value being able to talk directly to them to discuss new features or potential improvements.”

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