Tailoring (Customising) Simulations

This page is explores the issues and development time associated with customising an existing simulation so you can decide whether this is appropriate and affordable.

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I design my business simulations so that they are easily customised to your requirements. The reason for this is that I have found that to deliver learning, a business simulation must match the issues facing your business and to ensure engagement, a business simulation must replicate your business adequately.

Ease of customisation, coupled with our comprehensive range of business simulations means that where you have special needs it is likely that I can create a business simulation to exactly meet these needs very inexpensively.

Besides describing a business simulation customisation hierarchy, this page also describes two customisation case studies,

Business Simulation customisation hierarchy

My business simulations are designed to facilitate customisation as follows:

Change Documentation
Change Terminology
Change Language
Change the Reports
Change the Decisions
Recalibrate Simulation
Branded Editions
Add Reports
Add Decisions
Add or Replace Models

Micro Customisation (new version)
These leave the simulation model and the parameters that drive it unchanged. Rather the changes are to the structure, timing and content of reports and/or decisions. Typical time to customise ranges from a few hours to a few days. See Gambro Case Study

From a few pounds to a few thousand pounds!!

Macro Customisation (new simulation)
Besides changes to the structure, timing and content of reports and/or decisions, changes and additions are made to the simulation model and the parameters that drive it. Typical time to customise ranges from a few days to a few weeks. See Schneider Electric/Square D Case Study

Except when adding or replacing models and, possibly adding reports or decisions, the other changes just involve developing a new version. And my architecture means that all this requires is changing the simulation database (rather than changing the model). This reduces customising time very substantially. (Where models are changed or replaced then a new simulation is created for your personal use.)

Read more about this customisation hierarchy.

Changing Documentation
I provide participant documentation in editable MS Word format. Provided that you maintain my copyright message I am happy for you to merge, integrate and reformat this documentation into your course materials.
Changing Terminology
Often all that is required to make an existing simulation fit your needs is to change the terminology. For instance in the early 1990s a training company wanted to use a simulation with a distribution company. After discussion I decided that my Retail Challenge simulation addressed the required issues. All that was necessary was to change the scenario and terminology. The senior manager participants commented on the relevance and reality of the simulation. On many occasions clients have wanted to tailor the financial terminology of my business simulations to reflect the terminology used within their own company. Finally, recently a client who was running a course for the British Football Association wanted to change my Service Challenge simulation to reflect the issues facing a sports regulatory body. All these changes have been successfully accomplished in half-a-day or less.
Changing Language
A more radical change involves changing the language (from English). This may be relatively trivial like changing from British English to American English to more radical like changing to Spanish. To facilitate these changes, all the text used by my software are stored in editable ASCII text files. And, although I only have the capability to translate between British and American English. I can advise on translation into other languages.
Learn more about changing the language
Changing the Reports
The reports produced by my business simulations are defined in a database so that it is possible to simplify (or extend) individual reports, change the reports automatically produced and the timing of these. For example for a high school conference I simplified the reports produced by the Executive Challenge simulation. On another occasion for an American client I changed the reports produced by Management Challenge to meet delegate needs. In both instances, the changes took an hour or so.
Changing the Decisions
Often it is possible to change the decisions and their timing. For example the simplification of Executive Challenge for the high school conference also involved eliminating some decisions. And, on another occasion, changes in client strategy meant that is necessary to reorganise the timing of the decisions for the Profess simulation. For Executive Challenge the changes took less than an hour and for Profess the changes took less than half a day.
Recalibrate the Simulation
Recalibration involves adjusting the numeric parameters of the simulation. This can been done at two levels - proportional recalibration and radical recalibration.
 
Proportional recalibration involves increasing or reducing all the parameters proportionately so as to better reflect the currency of the participants' country. I attempt to reduce the necessity of doing this by providing my standard version of a simulation using a universal currency (the Account Unit or AU) where the numbers are small and do not map to any specific currency. However, if it is necessary to change the parameters proportionately this can generally be done in two or three days.
 
Radical recalibration involves changing the parameters to reflect the specific margins and costs of a specific industry. For instance I was asked to recalibrate my Distribution Challenge simulation to reflect the margins appropriate to the Electrical Distribution Industry in the USA. This involved changing the parameters, completely recalibrating and testing the recalibration. When doing this I had to ensure that the impact on revenue, profits, profitability, cash flow etc. were appropriate (neither to hard or too easy). This level of recalibration can necessitate up to two weeks work and a full pilot.
Adding Reports
As my business simulations utilise both parameter and reporting databases, it is often possible to produce custom reports that address particular training needs. And, if the data already exists in the parameter database then no additions to the model are required. But, if the data does not exist it will be necessary to add or replace models. While developing my Challenge Series of business simulations I found that several clients wanted to use them on Assessment Centres. To provide for this, I produce special versions with a custom set of the Team Commentary reports for the Assessors to highlighted and elucidate team results and their strengths and weaknesses. Changes that took less than half a day.
Adding Decisions
Often it is possible to add decisions to the simulation to address additional learning needs. For example several business process re-engineering models were added to Global Operations. Despite the fact that this required some re-programming of the model this took about two days to accomplish.
Adding or Replacing Models
On several occasions clients have found a simulation that is about right but require additional or different business issues to be addressed. Examples include: The Casino Challenge where the marketplace model of the Service Challenge was replaced (but the other models retained). RESERVE was developed by adding a series of decisions and associated models to the Management Challenge simulation. Typically, these changes have taken between one and two weeks.
Branded Editions
The above lend themselves to creating customised, branded versions of my business simulations for clients. Branded versions that use different terminology, decisions and reports displayed on custom background wallpaper and copyright notices. So, rather like the waistcoat in the icon you can dandify your version of the simulation!

The bottom line is that I can usually customise an existing simulation in hours or days - giving you a business simulation that exactly satisfies your training needs. But even if it is not possible to customise and existing simulation it is likely that I can create a new business simulation quicker and at lower cost than others.

Customisation Case Studies

These describe how existing simulations were customised for clients, the issues associated with customisation and use and the learning outcomes.

Schneider Electric/Square D Customisation: This describes how my Distribution Challenge simulation was radically changed and extended to replicate the operation of an electrical distributor so that Schneider Electric sales people could better relate to and help their customers. Besides describing how the simulation was customised, the case study explains how it was used by Schneider Electric facilitators and the outcomes of the role-out across the USA. Case Study, This customisation cost about 15,000. The initial use of the simulation was in 2004 and it is still in use today (2010).

Gambro is a large multinational medical company that recognised that although their "top executives were excellent in their specialties but did not have a good understanding of the entire entity nor of the financial impact their Divisions had on it". This resulted in them searching for a simulation that would provide for these top executives "an Exploration of How our Business Might Function Under YOUR Leadership". This led to my Executive Challenge simulation and its customisation. Besides describing how the simulation was customised, the case study explains how it was used by Gambro and the outcomes of the role-out across the world. Case Study. This customisation cost about 2,000. However, as Gambro used frequently, the discounted price they obtained more than paid for the customisation.


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2004 Jeremy J. S. B. Hall
Most recent update: 23/11/14
Hall Marketing, Studio 11, Colman's Wharf,
45 Morris Road, London E14 6PA, ENGLAND
Phone +44 (0)20 7537 2982
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jeremyhall@simulations.co.uk