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@RISK Bests Spreadsheets' Built-In Risk Analysis

From PCWEEK Reviews, "Lab Notes".  Reprinted from May 1,1995

Risk analysis should be part of every business plan, but plunging blindly ahead on a plan based on incomplete forecasts can set companies back ages. Palisade Corp.'s $395 @RISK 3.1, an add-in for Microsoft Excel or Lotus 1-2-3 worksheets, takes the "if" out of what-if situations and lets business users make more intelligent decisions.

Although @Risk is a bit difficult to master, its powerful risk-analysis functions, which can be used for everything from assessing investment risk to determining the health impact of a hazardous-waste site, will be worth the time for most organizations.

PC Week Labs tested the Excel version of @RISK, which was released in February. In all but the most simple cases, @RISK was better than Excel's built-in analytical tools.

The Excel tools - Solver, Goal Seeker, and Scenario Manager - force users to painstakingly maintain their models in different what-if scenarios, then merge the scenarios they choose into a single worksheet.

@RISK, in contrast, automatically plots out all possible combinations of a scenario, then displays the results graphically.

@RISK works by a process of iterative calculations based on the data entered into spreadsheet cells and a series of what-if data points. The add-in uses either the Monte Carlo or the Latin Hypercube modeling technique to generate a random sampling of these data points, then calculates a frequency distribution that shows the probability of an outcome.

Because @RISK is an add-in to familiar spreadsheets, users will not have to spend time fumbling around a completely new product.

However, @RISK is far from easy to learn. To create an uncertainty in our simulation model, for example, the Labs had to use one of 30 @RISK spreadsheet functions. While this makes the product powerful and flexible, it also makes it more difficult to learn for casual users.

For more information, contact:

Randy Heffernan
Tel: 607-277-8000
Fax: 607-277-8001
rheffernan@palisade.com
Palisade Corporation
798 Cascadilla Street
Ithaca, NY 14850-3239
800 432 RISK (US/Can)
+1 607 277 8000
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