Supply Chain Simulation Game: Bringing industry and industry scenarios into the classroom
The purpose of this blog is to describe an event we recently conducted and outline how other universities could repeat the experience for their students and SAP customers.
For a long time I have been looking at the supply chain simulation game (ERPSim) from HEC Montreal. Many universities have been using it in their curriculum. For the people who are not familiar with ERPSim here are some links to youtube videos. http://erpsim.hec.ca/
The main problem we had was how we could scale the game in terms of student numbers and timing. Recently we adopted a unique approach. Rather than rolling it out for all our students, let’s use it as a medium to raise the profile of the University Alliances Program and the associated skills of students while at the same time building closer links to industry.
We would invite teams of three from different universities to participate. We would also approach SAP to identify key customers who would provide an employee to be on each team and act as a mentor. This would benefit SAP as they can strengthen relationships with key customers while at the same time demonstrate the simulation which they sell. The customers become familiar with the skills of students while contributing to their knowledge. The universities would have an opportunity to build links with the participating customers.
The only problem was that when I mentioned the idea to the CIO of one of Australia’s leading logistics companies he said that he wanted to provide all the mentors (6).
The event was to last a day with 5 teams of students and a team of academics from the different universities. Each team had an employee from Linfox who played the game and was a mentor. SAP provided the facilitator for the event and access to the simulation software.
The morning involved introductions to mentors, facilitator, sap transactions associated with the game and the game itself. The teams had a chance to have a practice run at the game. In the afternoon the teams played the game. Thirty days (representative of a quarter) of procuring, manufacturing and selling is equivalent to 25 minutes. At the end of each 25 minute session the results of how each team performed is displayed enabling the teams to adjust their strategy. At the end of the day the winning team is determined. There is a debrief with each team about their strategies and what worked and what didn’t.
The day was a huge success from all perspectives. Nobody wanted to stop for lunch. Pizzas had to be put on tables next to the computers. We indicated early in the day that there were no prizes because we did not want the goal to be the prize rather than the process. Linfox spoke with their partners and 1st and 2nd teams both received significant prizes much to the surprise of all. SAP were extremely happy with how the event went. Linfox want to use the simulation with their customers and partners around the world to increase the awareness of supply chain issues but also at the same time building better relationships between parties.
What does the students think?
“It was great for learning practical skills and applying the SCM theory into a real-life situation.”
“Surpassed my expectations.”
“Hands-on learning in a competitive environment – hugely awesome!”
“Mentor was amazing.”
“Real-life systems, high-pressure environment.”
“A very realistic simulation of a total supply chain.”
“Very enjoyable experience.”
“Fun, but very challenging.”
The main response from universities, Linfox, SAP, and the facilitator was that they want to do it again next year. The event took about 45 days to organise.
This is a high profile activity for universities and is a win for all involved. It is definitely something you should investigate.
Let me know if you are going to do it.