Simulation Stakeholder Bill of Rights

by David Sturrock

The people who request, pay for, consume, or are affected by a simulation project and its results are often referred to as its stakeholders. For any simulation project the stakeholders should have reasonable expectations from the people actually doing the work.

Here I propose some basic stakeholder rights that should be assured.

  1. Partnership – The modeler will do more than provide information on request. The modeler will assume some ownership of helping stakeholders determine the right problems and identify and evaluate proposed solutions.
  2. Functional Specification – A specification will be created at the beginning of the project to help define clear project objectives, deadlines, data, responsibilities, reporting needs, and other project aspects. This specification will be used as a guide throughout the project, especially when tradeoffs must be considered.
  3. Prototype – All but the simplest projects will have a prototype to help stakeholders and the modeler communicate and visualize the project scope, approach, and outcomes. The prototype is often done as part of the functional specification.
  4. Level of Detail – The model will be created at an appropriate level of detail to address the stated objectives. Too much or too little detail could lead to an incomplete, misunderstood, or even useless model.
  5. Phased Approach – The project will be divided into phases and the interim results should be shared with stakeholders. This allows problems in approach, detail, data, timeliness, or other areas to be discovered and addressed early and reduces the chance of an unfortunate surprise at the end of a project.
  6. Timeliness – If a decision-making date has been clearly identified, usable results will be provided by that date. If project completion has been delayed, regardless of reason or fault, the model will be re-scoped so that the existing work can provide value and contribute to effective decision-making.
  7. Agility – Modeling is a discovery process and often new directions will evolve over the course of the project. While observing the limitations of level of detail, timeliness, and other aspects of the functional specification, a modeler will attempt to adjust project direction appropriately to meet evolving needs.
  8. Validated and Verified – The modeler will certify that the model conforms to the design in the functional specification and that the model appropriately represents the actual operation. If there is inadequate time for accuracy, there is inadequate time for the modeling effort.
  9. Animation – Every model deserves at least simple animation to aid in verification and communication with stakeholders.
  10. Clear Accurate Results – The project results will be summarized and expressed in a form and terminology useful to stakeholders. Since simulation results are an estimate, proper analysis will be done so that the stakeholders are informed of the accuracy of the results.
  11. Documentation – The model will be adequately documented both internally and externally to support both immediate objectives and long term model viability.
  12. Integrity – The results and recommendations are based only on facts and analysis and are not influenced by politics, effort, or other inappropriate factors.

Note that every set of rights comes with responsibilities. The associated stakeholder responsibilities will be discussed later as part of the Simulationist Bill of Rights.

Give these expectations careful consideration to improve the effectiveness and success of your next project.

About the Author:

David Sturrock - Simio Vice-President of Products
David Sturrock is responsible for design, development, support, and services for Simio simulation and scheduling products. He has held similar positions at Systems Modeling, Rockwell Automation, and Inland Steel. He has extensive experience in product development, product management, working with customers, and interacting with business partners as well as experience applying simulation and scheduling in a wide variety of applications. He has a proven record of making market successes.