The Magic Formula for Success

Many people new to simulation rightfully inquire how they can be successful. This first article will identify some of the issues associated with simulation projects. Later articles will explore these and other issues in greater detail.

So, to get started, here are five of the more important issues that should be considered.

Project Objectives – “Model this” is not a good objective. “Prove this” is not much better. A clear objective is essential to a meaningful project. Hopefully it would include the phrases “evaluate …” and “as measured by …”.

Know Yourself – What are your strengths and weaknesses? How about those of any other team members who will be involved? Be honest. Then come up with a plan to capitalize on the strengths and overcome the weaknesses.

Domain, Tool & Process Knowledge – It is not enough to be proficient in a simulation tool. Nor is it enough to have comprehensive domain knowledge of what is being modeled. While having project participants with both of those skills is a prerequisite to success, you also need to know how to conduct a simulation project and deliver validated, valuable results.

Project Planning and Management – A project that produces results after the decision is made has little value. And an over budget project may be cancelled before completion. You must pay appropriate attention to completion dates and project costs.

Team/Reviews – Even though “No man is an island”, too often simulation projects are conducted by a single person with little or no team interaction. Find a way to get others involved.

Look for five more success factors next time. Future articles will discuss these and others in more detail.?

Dave Sturrock
VP Products – Simio LLC

6 thoughts on “The Magic Formula for Success

  1. It is discussed that to be successful in simulation it is required that first we are aware of the exact need and requirement of the project before taking the effort to start modelling. And also it is required and advised to work on the project as a team rather than applying individual abilities. By working as a team any aspect of the model that could have been overlooked can be eliminated and hence leading to improved accuracy in the final simulated model. It also could be agreed that it is necessary to know ones strengths to know exactly what has to be done moving forward into the project.

  2. Each of these five issues have roots in one single subject – leadership. To be successful in simulation, one must either be a good leader or be on a team that is managed by a good leader. A good manager will be able to plan ahead and come up with definitive objectives on which to set for the project as well as determine how to operate under a deadline or budget constrains. The leader must know their team as well as themselves in order to assign their team members to tasks according to their skill set. A good manager must also have domain and process knowledge in order to effectively manage. By being active in each team members task a manager will be able to deliver valuable results to the client. Lastly, a leader must have faith in their team and give them responsibility as to where they take ownership in the project at hand. With each of these 5 issues being rooted in leadership, a team will have the formula for success in modeling.

  3. In my opinion, the view of this article is quite useful and instructive. Based on the 5 aspects of the Magic Formula for Success, it’s not hard to see the importance of the beginning of the project. Set up a clear project objective and write it down to guide you throughout the project what should do and what should not do to obtain the project. Set up a good team of specialists with different knowledge to help make the project useful. Knowing everybody in the team well to assign different jobs to everybody based on their specific strength, also can use different communication skills to different team member. Having the knowledge of the simulation software, the process being modeled, and basic project management knowledge is required during the implementation of the project to obtain the objective. And what’s more important to my thought, is the project planning and management, a good project manager can make the project deliverable in time within the budget to help make correct and timely decisions, which is very useful.

  4. The article provides insights to the success formula for simulation users. It is important to have clear objectives of the project. The definition of objective must include how it should be measured and evaluated so that stakeholders (who are directly or indirectly involved in the project) can compare “as-is” phase of the project to “to-be” phase of the project in relative terms. The project manager should diligently select the team members based on their skill-sets. He should form the team such that it should exploit the strengths and overpower the weaknesses of the team. The team members should have knowledge of scope of the project, objectives of the project and how it is measured and evaluated, deliverables and milestones of the project and running the simulation tool for the project. In short, the team members must be apprised of all the phases of the simulation project. There is no hard and fast rule that the project needs to be carried in a certain way. In other words, there is no fixed protocol to be followed for the success of simulation project. One should be flexible in one’s approach in carrying out the project.

  5. In the article on the topic of The Magic Formula for Success, the author discussed 5 elements we need to focus on in order to succeed in our future simulation projects:

    1. Have a clear project objective.
    2. Know all teammates’ weakness and strength clearly, and try to capitalize on strength and overcome weakness.
    3. Be proficient in at least one simulation tools, have sufficient knowledge of the project, and have a clear mind about how to conduct it
    4. Make schedule and budget plan before launching the project
    5. Work as a team

    I totally agree that these five elements are vital in doing simulation projects. However, I have a confusion about one of them:

    I am wondering how much attention should we pay to do the preparation work for the project: Should we start to do the project only after we have a very clear plan or we just do it when we have a basic idea?

    I think if we do the project after we make a very clear plan, we still will get into some inevitable or unexpected troubles which will delay the whole schedule. What is worse, spending too much time on searching everything will waste us time and make the team lose some passion in the project. Therefore, spending too much time considering everything probably will not help us reduce the risk of the schedule delay.

    On the contrary, if we don’t spend enough time to do a comprehensive search before doing the project, perhaps it will lead us to a terrible situation, like we find the project is not realizable or not realistic after conducting it for several months, which means we waste abundant time to do a meaningless thing. Thus, we are supposed to try our best to predict any difficulty we will meet and search if there is any solution before really starting to do anything.

    From these two perspectives, I am quite confused how much preparation work we should do in the simulation project.

  6. I think that the magic formula for success in the article is not restricted to simulation only but applies to situations on many scales. One must, while planning a goal, long term or short term, have a clear objective in mind. In case of a simulation exercise, the nature of objective must be exploratory rather than having to prove a narrow minded preconceived notion or not knowing anything at all. The ability to succeed depends on an individual’s honesty to himself and the ability to correctly gauge the strengths and weaknesses of himself and his team and follow that up with a plan to use this analysis to his benefit by keeping everyone involved to get positive inputs as and when required. It is a given that one has to be good with the tools and technology that he is using but it is vital to have resources that will give balance in terms of domain knowledge and specialties and know when to use them correctly. It is critical to be punctual for professional reasons and aware of the costs to deliver the results in time and do that with benefits to everyone involved.

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