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Applying Project Management Skills in a Simulation

Kathy Schwalbe, Ph.D., PMP PDS 2006 Cincinnati, OH


Fissure project management simulation  Benefits and drawbacks of using simulations  Student reactions to simulation  Suggestions for using simulations to teach project management  Note: I did not have all of the data when I created these slides (end of March 2006), so there will be more info in my final presentation. I’ll put final slides on my Web site ( under My Bio

Fissure – PMI REP Specializing in PM Simulation


Fissure Simulation  Demo version (CD) bundled with my textbooks (IT PM. 4th edition and Introduction to PM)  Project involves developing a prototype Web site  Demo version only includes 7 tasks and 10 potential team members  Full version available from Fissure in their courses 4 .

users get a guided tour by Peedy the parrot 5 .000. and there cannot be more than 7 known defects  After installing the application.Simulation Project Information  The Alliance Prototype project is a strategic effort to augment the sales and marketing of Uniworld with an e-commerce equipped Web site  The budget for this 11-week project is $40.

Sample Screen – Reference Information Peedy 6 .

)  Run the simulation for the week. when to send people to training. and stakeholder relations  Make staffing decisions each week. etc. budget. risks/opportunities. training. individual conferences. who to assign to what tasks and when. when to recognize/reward people  Determine the best way to have team and stakeholder interactions (group meetings. schedule. individual or team recognition. then review the results in various report and chart formats 7 . such as deciding who to hire.Running the Simulation  Read reference information  Plan each week – resources.

Task Assignment Screen 8 .

WBS and Budget Information 9 .

Gantt Chart 10 .

Network Diagram 11 .

Risk Management 12 .

Training 13 .

Recognition and Rewards 14 .

Team and Stakeholder Interactions 15 .

Summary After Running the Simulation for a Week 16 .

Communications After Running the Simulation for that Week 17 .

Earned Value Chart 18 .

Quality Report 19 .

Benefits of Simulation* Learn from mistakes with no risk  Quick connection between cause and effect  Build and test project mental models  Build and test leadership mental models  Try new techniques/approaches  Push your performance boundaries  Learn by doing  Learn from others in a team setting  *From Fissure documentation of simulation available on textbook Web site 20 .

cost.More Effective Than Just Lecture*      The experience is real. and quality) The simulation teaches technical and soft skills in an integrated way There is no “right” answer. there are many paths to success and just like on real projects. invoking real emotions and real learning Challenges are presented to the student as they manage a project to get the work done on time and under budget The decisions the student makes while running the simulation have consequences and an impact on the bottom line results of the project (time. there is lots of uncertainty (random events) 21 *From Fissure documentation of simulation available on textbook Web site .

Students’ Reactions to Fissure Simulation  I assigned the simulation as an individual HW assignment in fall 2005  Mixed results   Some students. couldn’t get it to work right. mostly male gamers. liked the simulation and spent a lot of time on it Some students. and thought it was a waste of time  Changes for spring 2006 semester – I made the simulation a team assignment for my adult class and paired assignment for two traditional classes 22 . hated the simulation. mostly female.

Student Reactions  Adult Weekend College students at Augsburg had to run the simulation twice as part of a team project  The four teams liked using the simulation. even on the second try 23 . and most did not finish the simulated project on time or budget. it took a while to figure it out.

Of Minnesota Student Reactions  PM class there is mostly senior engineering students. some graduate IT students  Suggested students do in pairs. made a homework assignment  Most students thought it was a good learning tool and didn’t have much trouble loading or running it 24 .U.

0 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 Respondent 1=low. 10 = high 25 .Rating as a Learning Tool – U of M 10 9 8 7 Rating Average = 7.

“ The program does not have some essential functions. stakeholders. such as the ability to save or go-back easily. like meeting people to see what their like or if they get along with someone else on the team. communications. 26 . and learning and running the simulation is time-consuming The feelings towards Peedy the parrot are mixed. etc. Gantt charts. and earned value charts are useful tools to see the overall progress of the project "The PM is tasked with realistic responsibilities in the management of the schedule.    The program has a steep learning curve The documentation is not clear.Teaching Assistant’s Summary of HWs Pros  Cons     Bar charts (in the report section). training.“ The fact that the user knows the individual characteristics of each employee helps the user to play the game. budget. robot voice was annoying "It's like a video game and you can't use all of your senses to get a feel of what is truly going on.

Hiring an employee has a two-week lead time (three-week lead time for Lisa Derring).”  27 . This simulation also makes you realize the constant nagging of upper management.”  "Meetings that are to the point and follow an agenda can be extremely productive.Student Quotes “One of the most challenging tasks is hiring and assigning the staff."  “You need to be cost-conscious as well as keep in mind the morale of the workers and manage time on top of it all.

Sample Great Response  The following file is from one of my adult. virtual students  Scott’s response 28 .

several of the students had problems loading the software.Augsburg Day Students’ Reactions  When I assigned the simulation in the fall semester. most were management majors  One student never figured out to assign people to tasks and never finished the project  A few didn’t get it and gave up  One said it was too phony and much preferred doing a real project  Women seemed to dislike the simulation more than the guys 29 .

but women still seemed to have more problems getting the software loaded and understanding how the simulation worked  Guys treated it as a new game to figure out  Several said it took too long to figure out and run twice  Most who did complete it thought it was a good learning experience but wanted more thorough instructions and a demo in class first 30 .Spring Semester Augsburg Day Students’ Response  Better this time.

change the voice for sure!  Add an animation of running one week so it’s easier to figure out  Explain final results of each decision at the end   31 .My Personal Thoughts on Fissure Simulation Overall. some students had trouble loading SW on their own PCs and schools won’t allow it  Should be able to assign all workers to tasks on week 1 and just make changes as needed instead of doing all assignments each week  Interface could be clearer. students and I thought Peedy was more annoying than helpful. it’s a good learning tool It would be better if it were Web-based.

etc. Gantt chart. earned value. do a demo first  Have students write a paper summarizing their decisions and analyzing their results from one run to the next 32 . critical path.)  Have them run it at least in pairs  If possible. communications.Suggestions for Using Simulations to Teach PM  Make sure users understand basic PM concepts first (WBS.