Conducting a Business Simulation

The Final Implementation Step

Would you fly on a plane with a pilot who had never flown before? Would you trust critical business systems and processes to teams managing them for the first time? Just as pilots spend months training on flight simulators before taking control of the real thing, simulating critical business systems and processes can greatly reduce risk before “go-live.” ScottMadden has leveraged decades of experience conducting business simulations for our clients to create a business simulation service offering to effectively train new teams and managers. With our know-how, tools, best practices, and thousands of example scenarios, we can reduce the risk, overall cost, and increase stakeholder satisfaction of your new business system or process rollout.

High-level overview of our business simulation service offering:

This report provides a brief, highlighting how your organization can benefit from a business simulation. It includes high-level steps for comprehensive testing and training for employees and key stakeholders.

View Accessible Version

Conducting a Business Simulation

  • The Final Implementation Step
  • Original Date: February 2011 Updated Date: March 2014


  • Introduction to Business Simulation Preparing for the Simulation Identifying the Participants Developing the Scenarios Selecting and Preparing Role Players Scheduling the Scenarios Planning the Logistics Providing Feedback Conducting the Simulation Key Lessons Learned

Introduction to Business Simulation

  • Have you ever launched a project after copious testing, training, and communications, just to discover that people were not trained as well as expected, gaps in technologies and processes existed, system access or permissions were not granted, or change management was not as effective as planned? If so, a business simulation will prove invaluable to your organization.
  • What is a Business Simulation? Final dress rehearsal, trial, or dry run prior to the launch of new services, technologies, or processes. Comprehensive testing and training exercise for employees and key stakeholders Integration of a projects technical and functional components, including system functionality and end-to-end processes. Exercise immediately preceding go-live, once all technologies and processes have been developed, implemented, and trained. Walkthrough of internal processes, including testing the required forms and tools that support service completion
  • What are the Benefits to Your Organization? Replicates the business environment expected to be in place during steady state operations. Allows you to go live in a safe test environment to identify issues prior to launching. Guarantees that all work will be completed well in advance of go-live Identifies and resolves technology and process gaps and addresses customer service issues. Prepares employees for new roles. Provides opportunity to influence key customers and stakeholders, building a support network of advocates and change agents
  • Why Conduct a Business Simulation? Companies that execute business simulation describe it as an invaluable approach that identifies issues in advance of the launch and fully prepares the company for launching their project.

Preparing for the Simulation

  • Conducting a business simulation is like conducing an orchestravarious moving parts must be planned, directed, and incorporated. Simulation is extremely effective for the implementation of a new service center or the migration of new customer populations or services into an existing service center.
  • Extensive planning, preparation, and communication ensures a successful business simulation.

Identifying Participants

  • Identifying appropriate participants for the business simulation involves careful inspection of all functional groups that touch a process as well as consideration of the entire end-to-end process
  • Customer contacts HR Service Center (HRSC) to request a leave of absence Phone call Self service Email Fax Etc.
  • Identify End-to-End Process
  • Employee HRSC internal leave desk Line manager Timekeeping Payroll
  • Assess resources Assign roles Communicate to participants Prepare participants
  • Review Process Steps
  • Identify Key Functional Participants
  • Assign Roles and Responsibilities
  • HRSC initiates leave request in system. Manager approves. Manual. Self service. Timekeeping adjusts timesheet. Payroll adjusts paycheck. HRSC monitors leave of absence

Developing the Scenarios

  • Scenario writing is a team effort requiring cross-functional resources to work together to ensure all elements have been considered during development. Two Types of Scenarios: Policy/process-related questions and answers. Requires limited setup Includes questions on policies and system navigation. Transactional activities. Requires setup activities (e.g., data staged in system). Tests a common transaction for a particular application (e.g., employee changes names in self-service application)
  • Elements to Consider
  • Process flows What stakeholders are involved in the process? System functionality How does technology support the process?
  • Scenario details What is the question and the answer to be provided? What customer demographics should be assigned to a particular scenario? What variations, if any, should be tested?

Selecting and Preparing Role Players

  • Mock customers, or role players, are selected to assist with the business simulation. Ideally, employees who will be experiencing the new processes or technologies elect to participate.
  • Involves the future customers of the technology or process. Teaches employees, in advance, how the technology or process will work. Allows employees to provide unbiased feedback. Ensures employees will be invested in the projects success
  • Conduct a preparation session to provide logistical information (e.g., schedule, registration, etc.) Set expectations and clearly communicate objectives, which include: Training employees and stakeholders Identifying technical glitches or process gaps. Resolving issues. Providing learning and continuous improvement opportunities. Provide questions and pre-scripted answers to role players for use during the simulation to verify answer accuracy. Provide simulation feedback instructions
  • It is critical to set clear expectations to help boost confidence in the new technology or process. Positive experiences translate into notable change management achievements!
  • Benefits of Using Employees as Role Players
  • Preparing Role Players for Business Simulation

Scheduling the Scenarios

  • Employing a building-block approach allows the customer service representatives to leverage their academic training foundation, while gaining confidence and improving accuracy throughout the exercise. The culmination event is a stress test with high volume and demanding customers. Key: Consider schedules and workloads for external stakeholders when planning scenario schedules Complete all functional training prior to testing a related scenario Monitor employee and management workload throughout the simulation period
  • Simulation Stress Test
  • General Simulation Training
  • Academic Training

Planning the Logistics

  • Logistics supporting the business simulation may be complex. Key elements include:
  • Set an adequate timeline for simulation (typically two to four weeks)
  • Duration
  • Determine what systems will be required during the simulation. May include HRIS, case management system, knowledgebase, IVR, document management, etc.
  • Technology Requirements
  • Set up test environments for each system included so that scenarios are completed outside of actual production (imperative if a current version of the system is active)
  • Technology Test Environment
  • Use a dedicated fax and phone number for scenarios. It is ideal to use the official phone number for the simulation If not possible, set up an alternate dedicated phone line
  • Dedicated Phone/Fax Lines
  • Communicate participant registration process, scenario assignments, and scenario distribution
  • Role Player Registration
  • Schedule and conduct participant training on the various technologies and processes covered during the simulation. Include all who need an in-depth understanding (includes stakeholders)
  • Training
  • Conduct separate logistical sessions for simulation participants by group. Focus on simulation roles and responsibilities, expectations, and feedback. Communicate expectations to leadership
  • Communications

Providing Feedback

  • Capturing role-player and participant feedback is crucial to the simulation learning process. Without feedback, the benefit of the simulation is not fully realized.
  • Feedback is crucial for highlighting training, technology, and process gaps.

Conducting the Simulation

  • If planning is well thought out and detailed, the execution of the simulation should go smoothly; however, there is always an opportunity for glitches to occur due to required programming adjustments, process gaps, or incorrect answers in the policy or procedure information that require modification.
  • The monitoring of scenario flow must also occur real time; communicating adjustments to role players on volume or specific scenarios tested may be required.
  • Share lessons learned. Prepare participants for the days objectives. Debrief to report performance metrics and feedback
  • Track technical, process, and training issues Identify scenarios with incorrect answers, those that were not adequately tested, or those that need adjustments; retest
  • Should be conducted throughout the simulation. Managers/supervisors should provide real time assistance to simulation participants. Training gaps must be addressed
  • May need immediate attention. Can impact the simulation flow. Must have a technical representative to resolve issues in real time

Key Lessons Learned

  • Keeping in mind a few lessons learned can help ensure the business simulation is successful.
  • Simulation is a training exercise and good performance statistics are not the ultimate goal
  • Address performance expectations during the simulation period with stakeholders
View More

Contributing Authors

Welcome to ScottMadden!

Sussex Economic Advisors is now part of ScottMadden. We invite you to learn more about our expanded firm. Please use the Contact Us form to request additional information.