Patrick Engineering Uses @RISK for Cost and Schedule Risk on MBTA Project

PatrickEngineeringPatrick Engineering, a nationwide U.S. engineering, design, and project management firm, provides independent cost estimating, scheduling, and risk analysis services for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). Given the uncertainty of cost and schedule duration estimates, the best way to display them is with probability distributions. Patrick Engineering uses @RISK to assess cost and schedule contingency needs based on project or program risks.

Patrick worked on the Downtown Crossing Vertical Upgrade project recently, part of the MBTA’s program to upgrade elevators and meet accessibility requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The first step for the project was risk identification. “To do this, you need to work collaboratively with the client, with the designers, with the project management team, with anyone who will have insight into the project – you want them all involved,” explains Kim Kozak, Sr. Project Manager for Patrick Engineering. The full team for the Downtown Crossing station project included six organizations and approximately 20 team members.

From here, Patrick Engineering holds a Quantitative Risk Workshop with all the players. “We try to get people thinking, to encourage discussion, as even a small detail could lead to a giant risk,” said Kozak. “Similar to the situation with the Titanic – what seems like a minor detail could be enough to sink the entire ship.”

“The final results of Palisade’s @RISK models help us, and our clients, understand where projects could go – not where they will go,” explained Kozak. “And we know that if a risk does occur, we’re well prepared as we’ve already identified it.”

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MRAG AP Quantifies Illegal Fishing in the Pacific Islands with Palisade’s @RISK

MRAG LogoMRAG Asia Pacific (MRAG AP) is an independent fisheries and aquatic resource consulting company based in Brisbane, Australia. An international leader in the field of aquatic resource consulting, the company is dedicated to promoting sustainable use of natural resources through sound integrated management policies and practices. MRAG AP used Palisade’s @RISK software to estimate the volume, species composition and value of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in Pacific Islands tuna fisheries. The outcome of their study provided recommendations on ways to strengthen monitoring, control and surveillance arrangements, to help minimize the future financial impact of IUU on Pacific Island economies.

Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is a global problem that results in significant financial losses every year. Previous attempts to estimate the damages put the value between US$707 million and more than US$1.5 billion per year in the Western Pacific Ocean area alone. However, IUU fishing by its very nature is secretive, making it extremely difficult to accurately quantify the nature and extent of potential damages, as well as plan for effective Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS) activities.

As part of a European Union-funded project, MRAG AP was commissioned to estimate the volume and value of IUU fishing in the tuna fisheries of the Pacific Islands region. The company took a ‘bottom up’ approach to the study, analysing detailed information at a local scale in an effort to build a more accurate picture of IUU fishing activity, particularly the variation in the nature and scale of IUU activity associated with each IUU risk in each main fishery. Estimates obtained in this way were then added together to develop an overall estimate of IUU catch and value.


According to Duncan Souter, CEO of MRAG AP, “The challenge with this approach is that it is time-consuming and information is often very patchy and hard to collect. There are therefore many gaps to fill that require analytical methodologies of varying degrees and complexity.” For this study, the company broke down the ‘IUU problem’ into discrete, quantifiable units – volume, species composition and value – before aggregating them up to produce a regional scale estimate.

“@RISK is very user friendly, considering the complex analytical techniques we were undertaking, and provided useful outputs that allowed clear presentation of our results,” said Souter.

» Read the full case study
» MRAG AP’s report: Towards the Quantification of Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing in the Pacific Islands Region

The Department of Energy and Climate Change uses @RISK for UK carbon emission targets

DECCThe UK government’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), is tasked with maintaining secure and economic energy supplies for the UK, while ensuring that the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions meet international targets set to combat climate change.

Under the Climate Change Act, the UK has a legal obligation to meet several national emission targets, called carbon budgets, including cutting UK greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050 (which requires sourcing at least 15% of energy from renewable sources by 2020).

To monitor carbon budgets, the Central Modelling Team at the DECC undertakes annual projections of energy use and emissions by modelling both overall UK energy demand and the electricity supply system and calculating the emissions based on the fuels used. These projection figures are uncertain however, due to variation in each of the economic and technical inputs used in the models.


DECC uses @RISK to explore the overall effects of these uncertainties and estimate the probabilities of not meeting the carbon budget.

“@RISK has all the sophisticated functionality required for Monte Carlo modelling, but is straightforward to use,” explains Dr Roger Lampert from the DECC Central Modelling Team. “Before adopting Monte Carlo modelling, the custom was to use scenario analysis. Using @RISK we can now use the statistical properties of the input data to better represent the full spectrum of possible model inputs. Consequently. we have more insight into the spectrum of outputs. The statistical rigour of the modelling gives us much more confidence in the level of uncertainty of our emissions estimates and therefore the UK’s ability to meet the carbon budgets.”

» Read the full case study

Rusnano uses The DecisionTools Suite for Nanotechnology Investment Decisions

Rusnano private equity firm uses the DecisionTools Suite for Nanotechnology Investment Decisions

RUSNANO is a private equity firm focused on the development of the nanotechnology industry in Russia. Using government funds, it invests in nano projects that have significant economic or social potential, across a variety of industries. Having provided capital for a company, RUSNANO works with it for five to seven years to develop the business before it is bought by strategic investors.

The hi-tech nature of these enterprises means that RUSNANO often has to make an investment decision at the R&D phase, before a product is on the market. This introduces a high level of risk, so the company looked to the discipline of risk management, adopting a modern and comprehensive approach through risk modelling.

RUSNANO uses the complete Palisade DecisionTools Suite toolset, with a focus on TopRank and @RISK. The tools help RUSNANO to model projections of different KPIs on two management levels: portfolio management level and investee management level. This allows it to calculate the right value of investment based on the risk it entails and understand the overall liquidity of the portfolio using risk analysis.

Using Palisade’s tools, risk managers at RUSNANO can communicate uncertainty to the company’s senior executives; the key factors, risks and projects that have the most impact on the company and project KPIs. Modelling risks also helps RUSNANO to understand the different micro factors that are outside the control of the investment team. The insight provided is in-depth and indicates when the impact of those factors is potentially a significant threat, therefore requiring risk mitigation action planning and model changing accordingly for the portfolio or the project to be successful.

Graphing and Reporting Improvements in @RISK 7.5

New to version 7.5, all graphs and reports in @RISK now feature a more streamlined interface, to accomplish more in fewer clicks.  One of the many additions made to help save time: you can now toggle between your default probability, cumulative and tornado graphs without having to click from each respective drop-down menu.

The new style of these easy-access buttons will allow you to more easily toggle between your favorite graphs.

In addition, graphs and reports support Excel’s built-in themes and colors. Now you can apply your company’s standard Excel themes to your @RISK reports, improving communication, consistency and efficiency!

The same report with stylistic changes that happen with a click of the mouse.

»Learn about all the new functions in @RISK 7.5 and The DecisionTools Suite

RD&I Consulting uses @RISK to Model Financial Uncertainty of Fehmarn Belt Fixed Link

The Fehmarn Belt Fixed Link is a planned immersed tunnel that will cross the Fehmarn Strait to connect Denmark and Germany. This large infrastructure project is mainly user funded, with an official projected payback period of less than 40 years.  However, based on the latest research from RD&I Consulting based in Denmark, it is highly unlikely that this projected payback deadline will be met.

Fehmarn Belt Fixed Link

Hans Schjær-Jacobsen, Director of RD&I Consulting and former Professor and Director at the Technical University of Denmark, used Palisade’s @RISK software to create financial models for the Fixed Link to determine the likelihood of project success – or failure – in terms of the payback period.

Uncertainty in the model was calculated by probabilistic uncertainty representation and Monte Carlo simulation, as well as interval analysis. Schjær-Jacobsen leveraged @RISK software’s ability to calculate a genuine uncertainty profile by Monte Carlo simulation in contrast to just partial sensitivity analyses, using uniform and also triangular distributions as they were easily derived from double estimates (i.e. best- and worst-case), and triple estimates (i.e. best-, base- and worst-case), respectively. The simulation generated the probability distribution of the payback period for the Fehmarn Belt Fixed Link over 60 years, providing a project uncertainty profile presented in terms of a traffic light metaphor: a green light corresponds to a payback period of less than 40 years, a yellow light corresponds to a payback period of 40-50 years, and a red light corresponds to a payback period of more than 50 years.

Project uncertainty profile for the Fehmarn Belt Fixed Link payback period.

For the Danish government, the only acceptable outcome of the model for the projected payback period is in the green light zone: less than 40 years. However, based on the model created by Schjær-Jacobsen, the Fehmarn Belt Fixed Link is a high-risk business case and the likelihood of financial project failure in terms of the payback period taking longer than 40 years is equal to 92.5% and substantially larger than acknowledged by the project proponents and presented to the public. This is due to several realistic uncertainties based on readily available facts, including traffic volume and income, construction costs, services and EU subsidies.

“As nobody had done this kind of analysis on the project before, the results were a surprise,” explained Schjær-Jacobsen. “However, now that these results have been presented to Fehmarn A/S and the Commission of Transport, we will see how they impact future development of the Fehmarn Belt Fixed Link.”

» Read the Full Case Study

Take Control Over Your CPU in @RISK and RISKOptimizer

@RISK has the ability to use multiple CPUs, but have you ever wanted more control to choose how many CPUs are used in @RISK to run simulations?  Now you can decide exactly how many CPUs to utilize, giving you more control of @RISK simulations and your computer!



RISKOptimizer also now has the capability of using multiple CPUs, dramatically increasing the speed of calculating optimizations. Speed tests showed optimizations run 4x faster than before – or even faster – saving you tremendous amounts of time.  So now there’s no excuse to take coffee breaks while waiting for your optimizations!

Netconomy Plans for Business Growth with Palisade’s @RISK

As the world continues to become ever more digital, companies from all industries need to have a strong digital commerce strategy. However, launching a digital commerce platform can be a complex undertaking, especially for established companies which have built their businesses on more traditional, paper-based processes that are better suited for ‘brick and mortar’ transactions. Netconomy Software and Consulting specializes in omni-channel and e-commerce software integrations, creating digital marketplaces for a diverse range of companies in the retail, wholesale, consumer, telco and transportation industries. This is where Netconomy has found its ‘sweet spot’: working with enterprise organizations to adapt and connect their business processes with state-of-the-art technologies to deliver scalable e-Commerce solutions. However, this is a fast-paced industry and the company is having to grow – and plan for that growth – rapidly.

For the first few years, the company utilized a classical budget process: taking a couple of months of the year to create a financial plan for the next year. However, this type of planning process has become less effective for Netconomy since the company is developing so quickly.  The company needed a planning process that would combine risk management with its budgeting and forecasting.

Now, the Austrian-based company uses Palisade’s @RISK to integrate risk management within its budgeting and financial planning processes, providing the management team with full visibility of the risks associated with each element of its budget. This in turn enables the company to make better, more informed decisions regarding capital expenditure, investment planning and future growth strategies.

Netconomy graph

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