Structuring a Simulation

Before you start building a simulation it’s worth taking a step back and thinking about what you are going to simulate and why.

Simulation professionals spend a lot of time at the start of a project understanding what the issues are and formulating ways to put a simulation together.

The process they go through can be summarized like this:

So a simulation professional or consultant will build a small simple simulation first of all, and only increase the breadth and depth if the results will be enhanced towards simulation objectives.

They will always question the objectives of the simulation to ensure that maximum value is obtained from the project – it’s common for simple simulations to answer all the questions, but for more, new, questions to arise taking the project off in a new direction.

Try these simple rules, and ask the following questions when you start a new simulation:


  1. Start off with a simple flowchart drawn on paper, show the main events only
  2. Build a simple simulation first and only increase complexity if it will improve results
  3. Focus on results, and build the simulation towards delivering these
  4. Its only a simulation! Process Owners see the complexity and difficulty of managing their process. Try a more high level view and simulate only what you need to.

Questions to help you focus:

  1. What is the objective of the simulation?
  2. What in the system can be changed?
  3. What are the measures of success?
  4. What will happen if things go wrong?