THE FUNCTIONAL SERIES
The motif showing a dark pyramid extending from the top of a lighter corporate pyramid indicates that these simulations explore a specific functional area in depth.
These are of complex simulations designed to address differing functional management issues. They can be used:
The series consists of simulations each covering different functions. These are:
KEY LEARNING: The key issues of the function modelled and as describe later.
- SMITE - two days
- TEAMSKILL - one and a half days
However, an option is to run on a spare time basis where the simulation is used outside working hours over several weeks.
TARGET AUDIENCE: The simulations are designed for high flying junior management through middle to senior management.
METHOD: After a short briefing the training group is divided into several teams of four to six participants. Teams consider the problem facing them and then make decisions. For SMITE and TEAMSKILL, these decisions are fed, by the tutor, into a microcomputer that simulates their effect. The results are returned to the teams for their consideration before making the next decision. This decision-making cycle should be repeated for at least six periods. For PROTEST, participants make direct use of a microcomputer in their syndicate room. For TEAMSKILL the group may consist of any number of teams. SMITE may be used with between two and four teams.
AVAILABILITY: Because of the complexity of these
simulations, they are provided on a fully tutored basis.
SMITE was developed in association with Cranfield School of Management and involves managing a sales force selling industrial products. This involves recruiting, training and placing on area individual sales staff. The measurement of performance and diagnosis of problems is based on comprehensive financial reports that treat individual sales staff and blocks as investment centres.
SMITE provides a comprehensive test for sales managers who are responsible for the direction of a national sales unit selling a range of industrial consumable products making decisions covering staff and territory management. Because the products are consumables, it is necessary to build a long term relationship with customers and, because they are industrial products, the skills and knowledge of the sales force are key.
SALES MANAGEMENT OBJECTIVES
At the start of the simulation, participants must decide their objectives. Objectives in terms of financial performance, market share, customer and territory penetration, etc.. While setting these objectives, participants must consider the implications of each objective measure and how it links to the rest of the business. Also, while setting these objectives, teams must decide and allocate responsibilities.
STAFF RECRUITMENT & DEVELOPMENT
Participants recruit and manage a sales force where each, simulated, sales person differs in terms of personality, skills and knowledge. So, participants must decide whether and how to develop individual selling skills, product knowledge and customer/industry knowledge. This is implement by decisions covering advertising for staff, making job offers, setting salaries, allocating territories, training etc..
The sales unit is responsible for selling nationally with the country is divided into some hundred sales areas. Each area differs in terms of sales potential and customer concentration and so offers different opportunities. These sales areas must be assigned to sales people, each of whom is responsible for one or more area. Participants must assess whether individual sales areas are profitable or can be made so. When allocating a territory, participants must consider potential, competition, work load, degree of customer penetration and the sales person.
FINANCIAL MEASURES OF PERFORMANCE
SMITE provides an advanced and comprehensive sales reporting pack. Besides reporting on the whole sales function, each region, sales person and sales area is treated as a separate profit centre using activity based costing and generating value added. This emphasis on financial performance means that participants' understanding of finance is developed while they explore the pros and cons of the different measures and the links to their decisions. As the simulation model does the arithmetic, teams do not have to do this but must interpret results (aided as necessary by the tutor).
ANALYSIS & DIAGNOSIS
The management of the sale unit means that participants must diagnose problems, identify their cause (staff skills, attitude, territory potential, competitive action, work load etc.) and act. Besides normal financial reports, this analysis is enriched by a series of qualitative comments that replicate the perceptions of the regional sales managers, customers and the sales force. Comments that require analysis, interpretation and discussion and that may or may not provide insights into sales management needs.
Beside the standard reports, there are several research reports that may be provided to help diagnose problems and identify opportunities. These reports are designed to cause teams to consider and debate their own information needs. As providing the reports involves selling time and may influence sales staff morale, teams must decide, based on the value of the information provided, whether the reports are really worthwhile.
With participants working in small teams, they have the opportunity to share experience and knowledge, present and promote different viewpoints, and develop their people skills.
Optionally, at the end of the simulation, teams can be asked for make a formal presentation covering objectives, strategies, process, the future (of the simulated sales unit) and learning.
Overall success can be measured in several ways (sales revenue, profit or return on assets). To reach it participants must manage efficiently and effectively.
Sales Efficiency involves an assessment of individual sales person's skills & knowledge, effort, morale and work load, together with area potential and competition.
Sales Effectiveness involves deciding which areas should be served, how sales skills should be improved and how many sales people should be employed.
TEAMSKILL was sponsored by Honeywell and Morgan Grampian publishers. It provides in depth involvement in production management - machine purchase, buying, production and inventory control, scheduling etc..
Participants take over a factory. Initially, they decide about replacing machines, layouts and suppliers. Next, they schedule factory operation on a month by month basis. During this time they have to manage fluctuating sales demand, varying production rates, quality, machine breakdowns, staff attitudes and absenteeism, etc. - all the things that make manufacturing management so interesting!
Teamskill involves participants in balancing market demand, with production limits at lowest possible cost, highest efficiency and lowest inventory levels. So, participants experience and gain understanding of these conflicting objectives.
Initially, participants must decide whether to replace a machine based on an analysis of costs and expected savings. An analysis that introduces basic methods of investment appraisal.
WORK STUDY & LAYOUT PLANNING
Initially, participants must select, based on work-study considerations, the layout for one machine. For a second unit, participants must decide whether to operate with two or three production lines. A decision that takes into account manning, staffing, investment, product structures and production requirements.
Initially, participants must produce a forecast for the year for each of several products. As the simulation progresses, they must update these forecasts (taking into account actual demand) and project sales for the next two to three months. This introduces basic sales forecasting approaches and techniques.
MASTER SCHEDULING & MRP
The pattern and mix of sales demand is such that participants must take a long-term view of factory operation. When doing this they must take into account production capabilities and capacities, product structures, varying month lengths and sales seasonality.
With a three-stage production process and six production units, participants must plan raw, in-progress and finished inventory. A plan that ensures inventory is available when needed, takes into account production rates and variation and ensures inventory levels and carrying costs are minimised.
Each month participants must decide how many of each finished product to produce and ensure, through timely set-ups and raw material deliveries, that materials and assemblies become available just in time for use. As part of this detail scheduling, participants must decide whether to work overtime or shut the factory.
MAINTENANCE & QUALITY
Participants must decide how frequently they must maintain machines so as to minimise quality losses, breakdowns and production disruptions. To make this decision, participants must analyse trends in production and scrap and balance scrap costs against lost production and the risk of equipment breakdown.
PRODUCTION & INVENTORY CONTROL
As in the real world participants must handle erratic and changing production rates, missed and wrong material deliveries, staff shortages and disruptions. In other words, all the issues that make production management so challenging!
Besides standard reports, participants must decide which other reports they need to purchase the information required for decision making. So, participants need to assess the value of information and balance this with the cost of obtaining it..