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    Crystal Ball v. @Risk (XL97 / 2K)

    We are looking at incorporating some (more) formal risk assessment into our forecasting work - at the moment we set a "most likely" forecast and then arbitrarily decide that a best case and worst case are plus/minus "X" percent. Not much more rigour than reading chicken entrails. The likely contenders, at least until we decide to get really heavily into the program, are either Crystal Ball by Decisioneering or @Risk by Palisade. I have searched (although not extensively) for reviews, particularly comparisons of the two products - but haven't found much that goes beyond a simple listing of features, aside from a comparison on the Palisade web site. Not that I don't trust them, but I do expect their comparison to be a little self-serving <img src=/S/grin.gif border=0 alt=grin width=15 height=15>.

    Some reviews were obviously just re-hashes of press releases, and so are not of much use. Do any of the regulars or irregulars around here have experience with either of these packages - or even better, experience with both? Any opinions, comments, or snide remarks are welcome. We are (or I am) particularly interested in:
    <UL><LI> Ease of use, including degree of integration into Excel, learning curve, variety of output format and content
    <LI> Speed of operation, and whether they degrade excel performance when not running a simulation
    <LI> Accuracy / reliability of the software (of course, on forecasts no one knows where the error truly lies <img src=/S/wink.gif border=0 alt=wink width=15 height=15>), and stability - will I end up with BSoD or frozen Excel
    <LI> Possibility of moving and using excel files on machines not equipped with (or users not equipped to use) the particular package - not for the simulation work, but just for the "Excel" portion of the work
    <LI> Any other relevant comments, or other suggested software.[/list]If worst comes to worst, we will buy both of them, try to get someone (or more than one someone) up to speed on both packages, and then make our own comparison and evaluation before we look into site licensing or multiple accounts, etc. I would like to either forestall that process (or at least speed it up) by finding out which package is preferred, or learn that they both do about the same thing in the same way, so we can just flip a coin.

    Thanks for any help,

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    Re: Crystal Ball v. @Risk (XL97 / 2K)

    I haven't used either one, but some thoughts on "checking out software"
    Many companies will let you trial demos especially if you tell them your are looking into purchasing a license for multiple copies.

    Also check out the license agreements. Maintenance fees can be a large part of the "future cost" and should be taken in account.

    Steve

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    Re: Crystal Ball v. @Risk (XL97 / 2K)

    (Edited by HansV to make URL clickable - see <!help=19>Help 19<!/help>)

    Dean, Don't know if you've managed a decent search onUK websites but here's one to check:
    http://www.ukcip.org.uk/pdfs/Risk & Uncert/Risk_Appendix_4_Websites.pdf

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    Re: Crystal Ball v. @Risk (XL97 / 2K)

    Thanks, Steve - yes, I have been looking at the trial copies, and some of the guys have academic copies as well. I know that some management science and modeling books come with either full-package or academic copies (seems to depend whether the book was targeted at the professional or text book market), so we should be able to come up with a way to try them out. I was hoping to get a leg up on that process, and perhaps find out about the "gotchas" that come up when you are finally trying to do the presentation to the Risk Management Committee and the Board (usually at 10:15 pm the day before the submission deadline....), and it won't quite work the way it's supposed to!

    Good thought about future licensing costs - no doubt it will have to come out of someone's budget, which always raises hackles.

  5. #5
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    Re: Crystal Ball v. @Risk (XL97 / 2K)

    Dean,

    I've used both at one time or another. Both are relatively easy to use. I finally settled on Crystal Ball which I now use most of the time. I haven't used the latest version of @Risk, so I must qualify my remarks in that regard. In CB you can use formulas or menus and buttons to set up the simulations. I also like the optimizer and sensitivity analysis tools better in CB.

    One program that comes with @risk that I like to use is BestFit. If you have data , It looks at it and fits different distributions, so you can determine what probablity distribution to use. CB has something called Batch Fit, but I like BestFit better and still use it. Still I wouldn't choose @Risk just on that basis.


    <UL><LI>Ease of use, including degree of integration into Excel, learning curve, variety of output format and content

    Both are well integrated. I thought it was easier to learn CB.
    <LI>Speed of operation, and whether they degrade excel performance when not running a simulation

    I don't have the technical data, but large simulations will take a long time to run - overnight. I haven't noticed performance being degraded, but when I'm not using CB. I uncheck the add-in because I don't like to have all of the extra menus.

    <LI>Accuracy / reliability of the software (of course, on forecasts no one knows where the error truly lies ), and stability - will I end up with BSoD or frozen Excel

    Earlier version of @risk I had problems with freezing. Haven't had that with CB, but you can't use Excel while simulation is running. That's a pain.
    <LI>
    Possibility of moving and using excel files on machines not equipped with (or users not equipped to use) the particular package - not for the simulation work, but just for the "Excel" portion of the work.

    I haven't tried this with @Risk, CB is no problem.
    [/list]

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