The one accepted rule in the simulation world is “garbage in – garbage out”, meaning that to create a meaningful simulation you need to know how to set up the correct simulation properties otherwise the results are meaningless.
A lot has been discussed about what skills you need to use simulation.
Jim Sinur, the leading BPM analyst at Gartner, wrote about simulation in his recent blog:
“Most people think that simulation is hard and is for those gifted with deep math skills. Today nothing could be farther from the truth. Simulation is nicely embedded in process modelling and BPM engines and pretty easy to use even for business folks. Another big fallacy is that you have to set up lots of test data to make simulation work. Most of the simulators, today, will generate appropriate instances of process based on arrival rates.”
I understand the logic in advocating the use of simulation tools to complete a full BPM cycle, but I tend to disagree with the understatement of skills required to run simulation properly. Simulation has evolved, made smarter and simpler to use, but even our simulation module has its limitations…
When at a customer, I always find it important to point out the importance of proper simulation training. At least one of the workflow developers should have the proper set of skills to conduct a proper simulation scenario.
PNMsoft’s BPM suite has a web-based, process simulation wizard module. Simulation has always played a major strategic part in our thinking going forward because we believe that business users are looking to identify process improvement but look at how quickly they can simulate the environment in which they are working in to produce better performance gains before moving into the production environment .
We can provide a process automation improvement environment where they can manage business intelligence but bring that forward to process improvement using simulation as a first pass and allowing the business user that understands their environment to prototype in a very safe, non-production environment, before, allowing the production side to then execute in their organisation.
Leadership BPM’s Rashid Khan wrote a great response to Jim’s post. An honost review of the current maturity of the simulation market. Rashid points out that the results of simulation will depend entirely on the assumptions the business analyst makes about a large number of parameters, and that the results of the simulation will depend entirely on the quality of these assumptions. The real requirement of optimization is sound business judgment and making choices based on what is important for the success of the business. In many cases, this requires value judgments, and software is blind to value judgments. Rashid states 4 main points:
- Simulation and optimization can be very useful if done properly
- It is not easy, especially if your processes are complex which they generally tend to be
- You need an experienced business analyst to do it. It cannot be done by ordinary “business folks”
- The business analyst will have to closely coordinate with business folks for their judgment and priorities
- Buyers beware of the hype about round-trip optimization
Like Jim and Rashid, we all want to see the success of simulation, but I believe that for simulation to succeed, companies must use skilled employees to do the simulation properly.