Simulation for project management
What is Cesim Project?
Cesim Project is a team-based, interactive project management
simulation. It allows participants to experience the dynamics of
managing a project that is part of a broader, multi-project program
with manifold cross-project dependencies.
The role of each team member is to manage a project and the goal of
the team is to complete a program that consists of two or more
projects. Through careful planning and execution, teams must
complete the program while adhering to quality requirements, budget
constraints, and schedules. Cooperation between project managers
is essential in order for the program to be completed efficiently.
The simulation illustrates and tracks the progression of the program
and the individual projects.
The simulation is fully browser-based and requires no software
To develop capabilities in identifying & analyzing key variables that
influence the successful completion of a program and interlocking
To increase the participants awareness of the complexity of operating
in a diverse team with a common goal of completing a program.
To encourage formulating, implementing, and adapting strategies with
a focus on avoiding bottlenecks and impediments in progression of the
project within a program.
To enhance fact-based analytical decision-making by linking the use of
resources to bottom line performance.
To give participants practical experiences in teamwork and problem
solving, and excite competitive spirits in a collaborative program and
project management environment.
Applying new ideas
Analysis & planning
Observations & reflections
Results & teamwork
Generalizing from the
Lectures & discussion
Web based solution
The simulation is completely web based. There is no need to install
any separate applications and the simulation can be accessed from
any PC or tablet that has an internet connection.
The simulation platform allows team members to work virtually if they
wish. Each team member has her/his own account that enables them
to make decisions and scenarios on their own.
The platform also includes a communications forum that can be used
to communicate within teams and between teams.
Simulation platform structure
The simulation platform includes the following pages:
[Home] - Overview page with deadlines
[Decisions] - All decisions are made under ’Decisions’
[Results] - Results become available in this area after each
[Schedule] - Simulation schedule is available on this page
[Teams] - Teams and team members in your market can be viewed
[Readings] - Access to the decision making instructions and case
[Forums] - Access to the discussion forums for team and course
The key role in the simulation is the one of the project manager. The
project manager is responsible for completing a project with the help
of 2-4 virtual team members. The project manager is cooperating
with the other project managers who run other projects that are part
of the same program. There can be a total of 2-4 projects in one
program. One team runs one program.
All project managers start with a pre-generated team, with each
member having their own particular skill sets. Project managers can
switch project members between the projects within one program.
Flow of operations
Introduction Planning Implementation Decision
Decision making with
the web interface
the results automatically
at the given deadline
Results from the
After the introduction, the teams
start to familiarize themselves with
the decision making process during
the first round.
The instructor decides the number
of actual decision making rounds,
and decision making follows the
cycle on the right.
Note that it is not possible to modify the decisions after the round deadline. If the team has not made its
decisions for a round, the system will automatically use the results of the previous round.
Main objective & winning criteria
The main objective for the teams is to deliver a program on schedule,
on budget, and within required quality level. A balance between
keeping expenses within the budget and completing the program on
time should be found.
For each project and program the simulation tracks the quality, time,
and cost. In addition, there are indicators that show details about how
well each project manager is able to match their resources with the
tasks, how much slack is accumulated within a project, and what is
the overall cost performance index of each project and program.
Since the simulation is primarily collaborative, special recognition
should be made to those teams who demonstrate efficient and
constructive collaboration capabilities.
Decision making fundamentals I
Decision making in the simulation is round based. One decision
making period is regarded as one week.
In the beginning of the game project managers should familiarize
themselves with their virtual team, as well as make the initial budget
The initial team roster is composed of participants whose skill sets
are randomly defined by the simulation. The first step in the process
should be to find the best matches between the virtual team-member
skills and the skill requirements of each project.
One team is running one program that consists of 2-4 projects. Each
project has approximately 40 individual tasks that can be worked on.
Decision making fundamentals II
Decisions are entered in the white cells. These will be used in the
actual calculation of the results.
Checkboxes are used to enable certain optional decisions.
Drop-down menus are used in certain decisions where there are
some specific options to choose from.
Each project member (project manager and virtual team-members) has certain
skills generated for them at the beginning of the game. The project manager
should coordinate with the other project managers within the program that
members are correctly placed in different projects.
• There are 10 skill domains in total, though a single member will not be
proficient in all
• An individual task requires a combination of a maximum of 6 skills
• Project members should be, whenever possible, assigned with tasks
that provide the best match between their skill-sets and the task’s
Each project member has a set maximum of working hours per round that can
be allocated for tasks, with the possibility of using some overtime hours at the
project manager’s discretion. There can be significant changes in any project
member’s availability from one round to another.
Roles: Project manager
Project manager role is the centerpiece of the simulation. Besides planning,
the project manager has the following responsibilities.
1. Make a budget proposal in the beginning of the project.
2. Assign individual tasks to the project team-members and to her-/himself.
3. Communicate with the other project managers within the program since the
projects are interlocked.
4. Make sure that the project stays on schedule and on budget and delivers the
required quality level. If the project is lagging behind the schedule, the manager
has the following tools to utilize:
i. Grant team overtime hours to team members. Overtime is more expensive
than normal hours.
ii. Use outsourcing for tasks that are available for outsourcing.
iii. The project manager can also negotiate with other project managers about
moving team members that are not be fully utilized in the other projects. If
needed from the budgeting point of view, there can also be cash transfers
between projects within one program.
Optional role: Project owner
The project owner role is optional. It can be
disabled completely, or it can be played by
The project owner is primarily responsible for
reviewing the budget proposals made by the
project managers in the beginning of the game,
and ensuring that they stay on budget
throughout the game. If budgets are exceeded,
then the owner must grant the project with a
special permission before the project manager
can continue with the project.
The owner can also be made responsible for
approving or denying requests for project
The owner also approves the project plans/
project charters and follows how well teams stick
For every round you should check the program updates from the outlooks page. This
page includes any updates regarding your program/project resources and other issues
that may have an impact on the project and program overall. On this page you also find
the tasks that you need to complete in order to have your project completed. In this
example the target tasks are # 39 and # 40.
The picture on the left illustrates the task map of
the project. With the dropbox selection
”Completion status”, the map indicates by color
which tasks are completed (green), and which
are yet to be done (grey). Using different
dropbox options players can select different
information about the tasks, including
dependencies between projects, tasks that are
outsourceable, tasks that have quality priority,
and tasks that have certain skill priorities.
Additionally, by hovering the mouse over a task
you can see the number of hours and
prerequisite for the particular task.
Participants can use the GANTT chart to plan
their projects. During the planning stage you fill
the planned starting time for the task in the
”Starting time” column. Blue bars in the chart
indicate the planned time and duration of a
particular task and green bars indicate the actual
time and duration of the task.
For example, task #5 was planned to be started in
the beginning of the project (starting time 0) but it
was completed in Round2.
When you hover your mouse over a task you will
see the prerequisite tasks and duration. In
addition, if the task is completed you will see who
completed the task.
Dotted vertical lines indicate the round deadlines
and planned finish (PF) for the project.
On the ”Tasks” page, project manager
assigns the tasks for the different
The bar chart on the top of page
shows the time allocation for each
member. Green indicates allocated
time and red indicates unallocated
time, i.e., ”slack”. Slack should be
avoided during the project since it is
typically charged as a cost for the
When you hover the mouse over the
bars you can see which tasks have
been allocated to different team
Tasks - allocation
Project manager assigns the tasks to different individuals by using the priority boxes in the middle of
the page. Each team member can be assigned with max 4 tasks per round. The tasks will be
completed in the order they are assigned and in order to assign a task, the prerequisite task must be
The table shows the completion-% for last round and this round. In addition, it shows how much time
it takes to complete the task for an average team member and for the selected person. The goal is
to assign tasks for individuals who can do tasks at less than average times.
PM can move from one team member area to another by clicking the boxes with names above
(highlighted with a red box).
Tasks – selecting the individuals
The spider chart visualizes the
effectiveness with which project
members can complete a certain task
by comparing their skills to the
average skill level. Closer to the
center of the chart indicates better
efficiency in completing the task.
Put the # of the task in the box above
the chart and the chart will show each
team member’s ability to complete the
In order to improve the readability of
the chart it is possible to enable/
disable individual project members
from the chart by clicking their names.
Tasks - summary
At the bottom of the page
project managers can access
a summary table that shows
how tasks have been
allocated to each project
member, how many hours will
be spent for the task, and the
level of completion.
Project managers should be
careful to not assign
The project team page includes information about the
costs for each team member. The labor costs section
shows the costs for regular hours, overtime hours, and
slack hours. Slack hour charge is typically a proportion
of the normal hourly charge. The costs may vary from
one round to another.
Here you also find the time that is available for the
project from each team member during the round. This
is subject to variation from one round to another.
Overtime hours can be allocated on round-by-round
Transfers to other projects within the program can be
done here as well. The transfer takes effect during the
round following the decision.
Project managers can select outsourcing projects on
this page. The table shows the included tasks and
costs for the different outsourcing projects.
Lastly, project managers can also transfer cash
between projects if they wish.
Tracking - charts
Tracking page has charts that depict the
round-by-round evolution of costs, time and
quality for the project.
During the first round the project manager
gives estimated budget for the project and
when the first round finishes the actual
budget gets allocated.
Each project has a certain amount of
estimated hours that have been allocated for
the project. Project managers are not
responsible for estimating the hours.
Quality is an important factor in the
simulation and there are specific quality tasks
that need to be completed in order to
accumulate quality points. Quality chart
shows the accumulated quality points.
Tracking - tables
At the bottom section of the tracking page
you find tables that give detailed information
about the hours, costs, and accumulated
quality of the project.
It is useful to check this table before
submitting the final decisions. At least you
should verify that you are not accumulating
excessive slack hours and you are not using
overtime if you don’t absolutely have to.
In addition, it is important to check that the
project is accumulating quality points
according to the plan.
On the player skills page you can see the
skills for each team member compared to the
team’s average skills. There are typically 10
skill domains team members have different
skill levels in those.
You can switch between team members by
clicking the boxes that have the names listed.
The table at the bottom of the page allows
you to rank the team members in the whole
program according to the skills. You can sort
the individuals in ascending or descending
order by clicking the skill name in the title bar.
All projects –page shows the total and skill
specific hour requirements for each project.
This page can be used when you compare
your project team member skills to the skill
requirements of the project. In case your
project members have different skill sets
compared to what the project requires, you
should discuss with the other project
managers within your program about
switching team members between projects.
Total number of hours per project is
calculated based on average skills. If you are
able to match the individuals with the right
skills to the tasks, you will complete the
project with less than planned hours.
Program summary page shows the # of
completed and remaining tasks, use of
overtime hours, and completion levels for
In addition, there are indicators that can be
used to evaluate the effectiveness of the
project work. Excess hours indicates how
well the team has been able to allocate right
people for the right tasks. Negative figure
indicates that team has managed to
complete tasks at less than average hours
”below par”. Relative efficiency measures
the same thing as excess hours. Figure
above one indicates a favorable condition.
Cost performance index is a measure of
the expenses spent on the project. This is
calculated by comparing the earned value to
the actual costs of the project. A value
above 100% indicates that we have earned
more than we have spent (favorable
condition) and a value below 100%
indicates that we have earned less than we
have spent (negative condition).
Results – Program summary
Results become available under the Results page
after the first round has been completed.
Time, cost, and quality page shows the same information for the whole program and each project separately
for the round that was just completed (this round), previous round (last round), and cumulatively.
Important indicator on this page is the Overall quality%. This shows how much of the available quality points
we have collected during the program and projects. Typically the projects have a minimum quality that should
be attained during the lifetime of the project.
Results – Time, cost, and quality
On the budgets –page you
find budgets and
accumulated costs for the
whole program and each
The bars on the left show
the proposed budget and
approved budget. The blue
line shows the remaining
budget after each round
and the stack bar shows
how the money has been
spent during each round.
You can remove any items
from the chart by clicking
the relevant chart legends.
Results – Budgets
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