In The News

Media coverage involving Palisade experts, or Palisade software and solutions.

Project Manager Today’s In-Depth Review of @RISK Professional

PMToday_flProject Manager Today took an in-depth look at @RISK Professional in a 4-page article in July.

“All projects involve risks, but it’s vital to understand what those risks are and how they might affect your budget and schedule,” explains author Steve Cotterell. “@RISK is a well-established software tool that’s been designed to help you do that.”

What follows is a thorough review of features, with helpful screen captures as illustrations. The piece serves as a nice introduction to @RISK, demonstrating how project managers create models to mitigate uncertainty, all within Excel!

» Read the full @RISK Professional Review

New Dairy Research Facility incorporates the work of expert @RISK user Dr. Jeffrey Bewley

The Kentucky Farm Bureau blog featured the work of expert @RISK user Dr. Jeffrey Bewley, who is a University of Kentucky dairy specialist and associate extension professor.

The story describes the new University of Kentucky dairy research facility that was built with cow comfort in mind, while being familiar enough to dairy producers so that the research is valuable for everyday operations. The facility uses technology to aid in Precision Dairy Farming, which Dr. Bewley explained to us at a previous Palisade Risk Conference (see slidedeck).

Dr. Bewley has been a longtime user of @RISK for risk models using Monte Carlo simulation. His work in Precision Dairy Farming aims to increase productivity for farms while making a comfortable environment for the cows. “We’re basically trying to improve the life of the animal and hopefully with this type of technology we can detect when cows are sick sooner so that we can intervene and have more chances at success,” Dr. Bewley explains in the story. “Our goal is to make a very, very comfortable environment for the cows.”

» View Dr. Bewley’s @RISK webinar about Precision Dairy Farming

GAO Recommends FAA Improve Cost and Schedule Risk Analysis

Next Generation, or NextGen, is the Federal Aviation Administration’s new air traffic control system. Approved by Congress in 2003, the overhaul has proven to be one of the government’s most ambitious and technologically complex projects. NextGen is meant to accommodate increased air traffic, reduce fuel consumption, improve safety, and be interoperable with other international air traffic systems in Europe and elsewhere.

However, the Government Accountability Office has recently criticized the FAA for failing to adequately address the risks associated with the interoperability function of NextGen. In an August 28 report, the GAO said that the FAA took steps to achieve global interoperability, but that “FAA lacks a mechanism for comprehensively identifying and assessing risks and for prioritizing resources to manage NextGen’s interoperability risks.”

The GAO went on to say: “We recommended that FAA should, among other things, require cost and schedule risk analysis, independent cost estimates, and integrated master schedules to better estimate the cost and completion dates for major acquisitions.”

FAA officials have noted that they do identify and assess potential risks to NextGen’s interoperability through working groups, but GAO said the agency hasn’t conducted a comprehensive risk analysis of threats and vulnerabilities to that end. Without such an approach, the agency may not be in a good position to address risks effectively or prioritize resources.

This kind of megaproject risk management is something we see all the time at Palisade. Huge infrastructure and technology projects costing billions of dollars over decades can be incredible complex and difficult to manage. The most successful implementations establish a strategic framework that is strictly adhere to throughout the process – even if that means over the course of many years with multiple stakeholders.

Within that framework, leading project managers and program directors bring in Monte Carlo simulation, such as found in @RISK, to properly quantify the “big unknowns.” Costs can balloon, schedules can be delayed, and you can’t always rely on what happened the last time. For these reasons it is critical that managers account for what they don’t know using @RISK. @RISK enables them to define realistic parameters around uncertainty, examine thousands of outcomes, intelligently rank risk factors, set up contingencies, and allocate resources efficiently.

In one similar case, Lockheed Martin has been using @RISK to plan the next mission to Mars, while in another, @RISK helped the Canadian government estimate costs and budget for the maintenance of its naval fleet facilities.

Further reading:

$750K HIPAA Settlement Underscores Need for Risk Analysis in Healthcare

In September, Cancer Care Group, an Indiana radiation oncology practice, settled with the US Department of Health and Human Services for $750,000 over alleged violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

The problem began when a laptop was stolen from a Cancer Care employee’s car. The laptop contained unencrypted information on the names, addresses, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, insurance information and clinical information for about 55,000 patients. After investigating the breach, DHHS concluded that Cancer Care’s failure to adopt an enterprise-wide risk analysis of what could happen to this information led directly to the problem.

At Palisade, we see companies in many sectors adopting enterprise risk management (ERM) for different reasons. For construction and engineering firms, ERM is necessary for keeping a comprehensive view on risks that affect schedules, costs, and resources. For manufacturing firms, ERM keeps tabs on material costs, exchange rates, and demand fluctuations. In healthcare, HIPAA compliance is one prime example of where ERM can help.

A key component of ERM, which DHSS expounded upon, is the establishment of processes and procedures to mitigate risks. Another key element is the notation and ‘storage’ of risks of all kinds in a register of some kind. Many software platforms exist to serve these more qualitative ERM needs.

However, it’s important to take ERM one step further to fully ensure you’re doing all that is necessary to protect yourself. Quantitative, probabilistic analytics are just as important as naming possible risks. What is the probability a risk will occur? How frequently has it occurred in the past? What’s the likely impact if it does happen? What is the range of damage it could inflict? These kinds of questions are crucial for developing a truly effective ERM plan that prioritizes mitigation efforts according to actual threat.

At Palisade we’ve seen @RISK and the DecisionTools Suite used to address these quantitative aspect. Based in Excel, these tools are easy to connect to other ERM software platforms, as many clients have done using Palisade’s Custom Solutions services. For example, Calgary-based Revay and Associates consultancy helps clients build out robust, probabilistic ERM solutions. Furthermore, global energy consultants DNV use @RISK at the core of their EMR practice. Even toy giant LEGO relies on @RISK for their corporate-level risk strategy.

Play Ball! Palisade Software Used in Award-Winning Sports Analytics Research

Play Ball!  Palisade Software Used in Award-Winning Sports Analytics Research

Clayton Graham being interviewed by Jody Avirgan for FiveThirtyEight, the statistics-minded ESPN website founded by statistician Nate Silver.

Baseball fans, take note: next time you’re looking to place a bet on a game, you may want to use @RISK. That’s what DePaul University professor Clayton Graham did to create his baseball wagering model, presented at the prestigious  ninth annual 2015 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. Dr. Graham’s research submission, “Diamonds on the Line: Profits through Investment Gaming,” topped the “Business of Sports” track and earned third place overall.

In the paper, Dr. Graham discusses how he uses Palisade’s DecisionTools Suite to create a baseball investment model to calculate the probability of winning individual games and the economic consequences of each wager based against each game’s betting line. Additionally, the research sought to determine the optimal bet size, based upon the risk tolerances of the investor.

Creating the model required the following five steps:

  1. Building a predictive function that determined the probability of winning each game
  2. Defining the betting line of each game, which determines the payoff or loss
  3. Establishing an economic relationship between the production function and betting line
  4. Creating a risk-return based investment function compatible with the production model
  5. Quantifying the results model

“Palisade’s DecisionTools Suite was invaluable to the success of this lengthy project, as it quickly and easily computed the myriad statistical scenarios,” said Dr. Graham. “Baseball has a seemingly infinite set of possibilities with each at-bat, and the intricacies of determining what may happen would be impossible to determine manually, with any degree of expediency. DecisionTools Suite is also very easy to use and intuitive because it operates in Microsoft Excel. I can say, without hesitation, that this project would not have been possible without DecisionTools Suite and the technical support Palisade offers.”

Once the model was complete, an initial bankroll of $1,000 was used to place wagers (about two per day) on Major League Baseball games beginning on June 16, 2014 and through the conclusion of the World Series on October 29, 2014. The amount wagered on each game was determined by the analysis, and 75 percent of the time, games didn’t offer enough statistical edge to even warrant a wager. Key results included:

  • 68 percent of wagers resulted in wins,
  • 35 percent return on daily at risk capital,
  • Initial $1,000 investment grew more than 1,400 percent during the season.

“While this paper is not a typical utilization of DecisionTools Suite, the research clearly shows the power and accuracy of the software, and we are thrilled that our solution played a part in achieving such a prestigious honor,” said Randy Heffernan, Vice President, Palisade. “It is especially gratifying to see Professor Graham’s tireless work being recognized at this level, as he has been a Palisade customer and champion for more than three decades.”

Check out Dr. Graham’s presentation at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference:

Read the full research paper here.

Read the press release here.

Rave Review for BigPicture from Mind Mapping Software Blog

BigPictureRave Review for BigPicture from Mind Mapping Software Blog has garnered an in-depth and enthusiastic review from the Mind Mapping Software Blog, a leading source for news, trends and resources related to visual mapping. Chuck Frey, widely regarded as one of the leading experts on visual mapping and visual thinking, explored the software’s numerous features and says, “You’ll be very impressed.”

Frey investigates BigPicture’s basic diagram-building capabilities, noting that it has “a unique capability that leverages the inherent strengths of Excel” and  that BigPicture enables “a fast way to build your diagram from scratch or to leverage existing data. Very cool! This is a capability that you won’t find in any dedicated mind mapping or diagramming program.”

Frey then delves into data mapping–‘where the real power is’–exploring the software’s ability to take reams of data and convert them into diagrams. “If your eyes glaze over when you look at a large number of columns and rows of data in Excel like I do, you’ll immediately appreciate this aspect of BigPicture,” Frey writes.

He is also impressed with BigPicture’s automated and elegant organizational chart functions: “This promises to be a big time-saver for human resources managers!” and its convenient slide-show mode: “quickly build presentations that have excellent continuity from one slide to the next.”

Frey concludes: “If you’re looking for an affordable, easy-to-use diagramming and mind mapping tool and you already use Excel, then you owe it to yourself to check out BigPicture. I think you’ll be very impressed with its excellent toolset and ease of use. This is backed up by a help file and videos that actually do an excellent job of explaining how to perform common tasks. That’s all too rare today!”

To read the full Mind Mapping Software Blog review, click here.

Download your complimentary version of BigPicture.

Five-Star Review for BigPicture in Small Business Trends

BigPicture, Palisade’s new mind mapping and data exploration tool for Excel, has garnered a rave review from Small Business Trends, an Five-Star Review for BigPicture in Small Business Trendsaward-winning online publication for small business owners, entrepreneurs and the people who interact with them. The online magazine bills itself as “one of the most popular independent small business publications on the web.”

BigPicture, the latest software tool from Palisade, branches out from @RISK and the other DecisionTools Suite products by bringing mind mapping and other data visualization tools to its users’ fingertips.

Small Business Trends reporter Matt Mansfield had the chance to play with BigPicture, and he writes a review on the software’s myriad features, noting that “BigPicture is like peeling an onion – there are a lot of layers inside, each one adding depth and functionality to this new Excel add-on.”

Mansfield explores BigPicture’s mind mapping capability, both with and without Excel data, and is more than a little impressed:

Let me take a deep breath here so I can yell, “Squeeee!!!!”

Why am I so excited? Because BigPicture combines the power of Excel to manipulate numbers and play all sorts of “what if?” scenarios and reporting set-ups with automatically created, easy-to-understand images.

The review also covers BigPicture’s capabilities for sales reporting, dashboard-building, and org-chart generation. Mansfield’s reaction is nothing short of glowing:

With its deeply flexible features and functionality, as well as an ever growing set of documentation and videos, BigPicture is the one tool you don’t want to overlook in 2015.

In summary, Small Business Trends gave BigPicture a full five out of five stars for all three of their metrics: usefulness, functionality, and price.  We couldn’t agree more with them!

CIO Review’s “Metals & Mining” Special Edition Features @RISK Success Stories

Palisade software is a vital tool in countless industries, particularly in the mining sector. CIO Review's "Metals & Mining" Special Edition Features @RISK Success StoriesThe “Metals & Mining Technology Special” edition of CIO Review features an article by Palisade’s vice president, Randy Heffernan, detailing several success stories.

Heffernan describes how Met-Mex Peñoles and Anglo American used risk analysis software @RISK for applications like Six Sigma, sensitivity analysis, and real options. Mining companies  benefit from decision trees also, as in the Metaproject story, in which an analyst uses PrecisionTree to recommend the best method of saving the 33 Chilean miners trapped in a San José mine in 2010.

To read the full story, check out “Armed with the Right Tools, Mining and Metals Projects have Successful Outcomes” in CIO Review.

Palisade Client Discusses Project Success in Economia

Previously,  Visual Reporting,  the Denmark-based business analytical reporting consultancy, used @RISK to help the Danish Government comply with Danish legislation requiring all Government related IT business cases that exceed €1.33m to be risk-assessed.

Laurits Søgaard Nielsen, CEO at Visual Reporting, believes Monte Carlo Simulation (MCS) used within @RISK was  integral to the solution that Visual Reporting  implemented for the Danish Government, and he discussed that success in the January 2015 issue of economia, which covers technical accountancy content,  business, economics, management and finance.  In the piece, Why do IT projects fail?Nielsen gives his insight:

“The main reason large IT projects fail is that they grow in complexity, and humans are very poor at handling complex tasks,” says Laurits Søgaard Nielsen, CEO of Virtual Reporting. “But often the creation of a business case does not follow best practice and can be severely affected by managers wanting to influence the process of project approval. ‘I want this project to happen’ often outweighs the poor business case.”

With Palisade’s risk and decision analysis tools, complex tasks and projects can be handled with confidence.

Read the original case study here.

Palisade’s PrecisionTree Software Helps Form New AACE International Recommended Practice

Palisade’s PrecisionTree software was featured prominently in Cost Engineering Magazine’s July/August 2014 issue.  The article “Use Decision Trees to Make Important Project Decisions,” by long-time Palisade software user Dr. David T. Hulett, describes how decision trees can help decision makers choose between multiple options and take account of cost and rewards of different options.

decision tree 1

The article “forms the foundation of a new AACE International Recommended Practice,” and examines two different approaches to making a decision: maximize expected monetary value, which is a hallmark of a risk-neutral organization, or, maximize expected utility, which is the appropriate measure of merit for a risk-averse or even a risk-seeking organization. Both approaches benefit from the use of decision trees, as well as optimization and Monte Carlo simulation, to better select and represent alternative outcomes.

decision tree 2

For anyone interested in incorporating decision trees into their decision making, consider checking out Palisade’s PrecisionTree software; it allows you to visually map out, organize, and analyze decisions using decision trees, right in Microsoft Excel.