SimulTrain is a Project Management Simulator used in project management training programs. SimulTrain is a simulation of the planning and execution phases of a medium-sized project, that involves all of the events that occur. SimulTrain is a computer-based multimedia tool which allows the participants to learn:
- to structure a project;
- to control the progress of a project;
- to use project management tools.
The first version of SimulTrain was released in 1996. This educational software has been constantly improved. The recent version includes an expert system that analyses the managers' behaviour and provides them with detailed feedback. The version 12.2 of SimulTrain was released in January 2020. It includes RACI Matrix, Risk Register, Management Report, Learning Points, and ne Agile Software development scenario.
The project management simulation SimulTrain is based on Dr. Roland Sauter‘s PhD thesis La modélisation des facteurs humains dans la gestion de projets. (1996). A model of human factors in project management was validated by a survey of 900 project managers. In 1996 the simulator was developed based on this model.
The first version ran on Macintosh. Since then a new version with numerous new features was released regularly every two years. Version 9 released in October 2012 runs on various operating systems (Windows, Macintosh, Linux) and is available both as online version and desktop version.
By 2019 over 200,000 people across 50 countries, have been trained with SimulTrain®. The simulation has been translated into 22 languages.
Resource Leveling exercise is a new feature added in 2013. This is an example of Resource leveling for a mid-size project. The chart shows the number of people involved in a project and its change with time.
Training is done in small groups of 4 people in two sessions of 3–4 hours each. Each group has one computer with the simulation program. The participants thus learn how to work and make decisions as a team. The simulator allows the group to work on the progress and execution of the project. It confronts the learners with many situations requiring the ability of making fast decisions and of taking all of the project parameters into account (costs, deadlines as well as human factors). The feedback and consequences of the different decisions are immediately made visible. The simulator involves multimedia technology: the participants receive many phone calls, e-mails and voice-mails, thus immersing them in surrounding them in a realistic project atmosphere.
The trainees have to complete the project within the deadline and budget. Their main tasks as project managers include:
- setting up the project team, hiring employees with the proper qualifications at the right time
- showing team members their tasks
- making adequate decisions when facing difficulties, overrunning the budget or failing to meet the deadline
- maintaining a good team dynamic
With the simulation attendees learn in two ways:
- from the reactions of the people involved in the project to the decisions made. (Feedback).
- from the potent interactions that develop in the four-person groups as each person plays a very precise role (such as supervising the schedule, costs, quality, and motivation).
SimulTrain's only requirement is a general knowledge about project management, including the Gantt chart and the Activity Network. Both online and desktop versions of the simulator are available.
IT service deployment project
In accordance with the marketing strategy defined at the beginning of the year, the management wishes to provide its customers with an on-line interactive service. This will allow customers to follow up and control orders without the intervention of either the customer service or accounting departments. For this project a tentative schedule has been written with the list of activities, budget and time required. The core-team has been established.
Plastoceram is the leading firm in manufacturing special packages made of composite materials. One of its clients that produces pacemakers cannot find any appropriate solution for the case of its latest ultra-miniature model. A case thus needs to be developed for this client within a very short time. It should be made of a resistant, very thin and easy-to-fashion material.
Your company has devised a new all-in-one Smartphone. This high performance appliance includes many innovative features, which makes it very attractive for listeners on the go and consumers who enjoy new technologies. The product conception is almost finished and its launch on the market must now be prepared. For this project tentative specifications have been written with the list of activities, budget and time required. The core-team has been established.
Organizing a sport event
The International Lausanne Football Tournament will gather some of the most important European youth football clubs. The National Federation is organizing the event for the first time. An organization specialized in sport events allocates all its resources to the event. The project "ILFT phase B" is a part of the preparation process. The preparation must be finished 2 weeks before the opening day. The core team and budget have been established. Other resources of the Federation are available for the project.
Agile software development
Management wishes to provide costumers' account managers of major customers with an update of the online interactive services. This will allow to follow-up and control orders without the intervention of either the customer service or the accounting departments. The head of the Customer service department is the Product Owner. The list of Product Backlog items / features and a budget for the first stage have been defined. The project is considered as a success if a certain number of story points are obtained in the given period. The agile team includes 7 developers.
Portfolio Management Simulation
SimulTrain®+  is an extension of the project management simulation to Project Portfolio Management. With the serious game the trainees acquire such skills as prioritizing / balancing a portfolio of projects under resources, funding scarcity. The trainee use such key indicators as Strategic Value, Strategic Objectives, Net Present Value, Payback time, workload, risk, cash credit, and others.
- What Is Project Management?
- What Is Responsibility Assignment Matrix RACI?
- Kokcharov I. Using Business Simulation to Analyse Project Management Decision Making. Proceedings of 45th Conference of the International Simulation and Gaming Association. Dornbirn, Austria, 2014, page 213 - 318 http://www.slideshare.net/igorkokcharov/using-business-simulation-to-analyse-project-management-decision-making
- What Is Risk Management?
- SimulTrain Resource Leveling https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xcOD_ViGJYg
- What Is Project Portfolio Management?
- Roland Sauter. La modélisation des facteurs humains dans la gestion de projects. Thèse # 1494 (1996) EPFL, Lausanne.
- Design and Production of Multimedia and Simulation-based Learning Material (1994) Kluwer. ISBN 0-7923-3020-X.
- Karen Mantyla. Interactive Distance Learning Exercises that really Work! (1999) ASTD. ISBN 1-56286-128-X.
- Proceedings of the European Conference on Games-based Learning. (2007) Academic Conferences Limited, 115. ISBN 1-905305-63-X.