What is a good replacement for models built using IFPS?


Montreal, December 5, 2000

Hubert Deneault, Hydro-Quebec, wrote 

"First, I want to thank you for offering a service like 
dssresources.com.  It is very helpful and very much appreciated."

"Here is our problem."

"For a number of years now, we have been using IFPS, a financial 
planning package first developed by EXECUCOM, in Austin, and later 
merged into COMSHARE.  Over these years, we have developed a few quite 
large models, which are linked together though not dynamically.  There 
are mainly 3 such models, the largest containing more than 1500 
variables(rows) and approximately 80 columns (time periods)." ...

"You probably guessed it we are looking for a replacement, i.e. 
something that will:"

"do what IFPS does in a more friendly and a more modern environment
preferably be based on WINDOWS and VISUAL BASIC, and be able to talk  to 
an OLAP application like Hyperion ESSBASE, or something similar."

"Can you, or anybody out there, help?"

Dear Mr. Deneault--

You mention a number of requirements for a new software package. Based 
on what you have told me I think you need to try the simplest solution, 
which is to use Microsoft Excel 2000.  This solution is easy to overlook 
and it does have some limitations.  You indicated the largest model 
contains more than 1500 variables (rows) and approximately 80 columns 
(time periods). In Microsoft Excel 2000 there are 256 columns and you 
can have 65,536 rows. So it should handle the data set.

With the built-in functions and add-ins I think you can develop a wide 
variety of planning models.  Excel 2000 is a more friendly and more 
modern environment and you can work with OLAP and post results as Web 

I checked Paul Gray's 1996 book Visual IFPS/PLUS for Business and there 
will be some issues that need to be addressed in working with 
simultaneous equations. 

Perhaps we'll get some feedback on this or other alternatives.