Palisade Software Corp. @Risk 4.0 Professional

@Risk arms Excel with risk analysis Palisade Software Corp. has announced its @Risk 4.0 Professional beta will be available later this month. @Risk performs risk analysis on complex spreadsheet models, which yields relevant output.

@Risk comprises three main components: the @Risk Model window, the @Risk Microsoft Excel add-in, and the @Risk Results window. The Model window allows for designate inputs and outputs for simulations, to view input distributions, and define correlations.

The Excel add-in architecture means a small footprint on the desktop and little or no end-user support requirements. Simulations run quickly even on lower-end clients. By launching Excel in the standard way the @Risk toolbars and special functions appear only when the @Risk application is used to launch Excel, making it far less intrusive for frequent spreadsheet users.

Integration with existing Excel spreadsheets means that current modeling spreadsheets do not have to be re-created. @Risk automatically runs hundreds or even thousands of possible variable combinations, based on ranges defined by the user. The results are displayed in tables or a wide range of flexible graphs, all within the familiar interface of Excel.

The Results window provides users with a variety of output options, including interactive graphs and scenario reports. The Excel add-in provided special @Risk functions that could be typed directly into cells of existing spreadsheets with just a few keystrokes. Sample spreadsheet models use coloured text in the spreadsheets to make it easy to identify cell values that have special @Risk functions running behind them. This colored text shows users exactly where these functions exist in any spreadsheet in which they are used, and makes it far easier to modify the spreadsheets.

Graphs viewed while running simulations are updated in real time, which provides a moving picture of the risk-analysis model results. The graphs themselves contain a variety of controls for adjusting variables such as probability distribution. Advanced risk-analysis users and trained statisticians may find this level of control appealing.

@Risk 4.0 Professional includes the BestFit application, which sold separately in previous versions. BestFit allows for distribution fitting or insertion of sample data from an external source into a simulation. For instance using historical pricing data for a product to provide possible prices in a risk-analysis model. This capability could provide a powerful tool for forecasting future events based on past outcomes.

@Risk 4.0 comes in three versions: Standard, Professional, and Industrial. @Risk 4.0 Standard does not include the BestFit application, whereas the @Risk 4.0 Industrial version includes both the BestFit application and an additional component: the RiskOptimizer, which allows for optimizing simulations with genetic algorithms. Past versions of @Risk are also available for the Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet application.

@Risk is available for Microsoft Windows 95/98, Windows NT 4.0, Microsoft Excel 7 or later and costs US$695 for the Professional edition, $495 for the Standard edition, and $1,195 for the Industrial edition.

Palisade Software Corp. in Newfield, N.Y., is at http://www.palisade.com.

Prices listed are in US currency.