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Applying Project Management Skills in a Simulation

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Presentation on theme: "Applying Project Management Skills in a Simulation"— Presentation transcript:

1 Applying Project Management Skills in a Simulation
Kathy Schwalbe, Ph.D., PMP PDS 2006 Cincinnati, OH

2 Overview 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

3 Fissure – PMI REP Specializing in PM Simulation

4 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

5 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 $40,000, and there cannot be more than 7 known defects After installing the application, users get a guided tour by Peedy the parrot

6 Sample Screen – Reference Information

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

8 Task Assignment Screen

9 WBS and Budget Information

10 Gantt Chart

11 Network Diagram

12 Risk Management

13 Training

14 Recognition and Rewards

15 Team and Stakeholder Interactions

16 Summary After Running the Simulation for a Week

17 Communications After Running the Simulation for that Week

18 Earned Value Chart

19 Quality Report

20 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

21 More Effective Than Just Lecture*
The experience is real, 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, cost, 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, there is lots of uncertainty (random events) *From Fissure documentation of simulation available on textbook Web site

22 Students’ Reactions to Fissure Simulation
I assigned the simulation as an individual HW assignment in fall 2005 Mixed results Some students, mostly male gamers, liked the simulation and spent a lot of time on it Some students, mostly female, hated the simulation, couldn’t get it to work right, 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

23 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; it took a while to figure it out, and most did not finish the simulated project on time or budget, even on the second try

24 U. 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

25 Rating as a Learning Tool – U of M
Average = 7.0 1=low, 10 = high

26 Teaching Assistant’s Summary of HWs
Pros Cons Bar charts (in the report section), 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, budget, training, stakeholders, communications, etc.“ The fact that the user knows the individual characteristics of each employee helps the user to play the game. The program has a steep learning curve The documentation is not clear, and learning and running the simulation is time-consuming The feelings towards Peedy the parrot are mixed; 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, like meeting people to see what their like or if they get along with someone else on the team.“ The program does not have some essential functions, such as the ability to save or go-back easily.

27 Student Quotes “One of the most challenging tasks is hiring and assigning the staff. Hiring an employee has a two-week lead time (three-week lead time for Lisa Derring).” "Meetings that are to the point and follow an agenda can be extremely productive." “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. This simulation also makes you realize the constant nagging of upper management.”

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

29 Augsburg Day Students’ Reactions
When I assigned the simulation in the fall semester, several of the students had problems loading the software; 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

30 Spring Semester Augsburg Day Students’ Response
Better this time, 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

31 My Personal Thoughts on Fissure Simulation
Overall, it’s a good learning tool It would be better if it were Web-based; 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; 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

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

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