The PartiSim process
The PartiSim experience is designed to be inclusive, which means it must also be relevant to those involved in the modelling project. After all, no model can claim to be genuinely effective if the people who are expected to solve their problems cannot begin to make sense of it. For an overview of the PartiSim process please access the infographic below.
As with any modelling process, confidence comes with practice. Here we explain a little more about the PartiSim process and its six individual stages.
Here we offer access to our dedicated toolset, which consists of the User Guide and the tools to support each stage.
The User Guide provides an overview of the modelling process and outlines the activities and outcomes that should arise from each stage. You can download the User Guide by filling in the form below.
The tools to support each stage can also be downloaded by following the links at the end of each section.
You can contact us directly to discuss your requirements. Alternatively, we can deliver support, bespoke training through the OR Society’s training suite or, if you are a larger group, customised training for your team. Any help we provide will be entirely bespoke and tailored to your specific needs.
The PartiSim process invariably begins with at least a vague recognition that simulation modelling may help to address an organisational problem. A modeller or modelling team is commissioned, an initial feasibility check is undertaken, and timelines are agreed with the organisation. In short, this stage revolves around establishing the project management process by pursuing three fundamental objectives:
- Understand the situation of interest
- Identify stakeholders and roles
- Collect reading materials
Although the amount of preliminary work undertaken is a matter for the modelling team, it is normally advantageous to enter the workshop phases of the process with some preliminary outputs already developed. This helps to initiate discussion and saves time.
You can download the tools and full instructions for 'Stage 1' by filling in the form below.
The overarching purpose of the first workshop stage is to arrive at a common high-level definition of the system being studied and gain an understanding of the problems and issues involved. The key objectives might usefully be broken down as follows:
- Develop a problem statement
- Define the system of interest
- Design a system model
This stage marks the first in which modellers and stakeholders work together in earnest. It is fundamental to achieving a shared understanding of the issues that need to be addressed and sets a tone of collaboration, confidence, communication, creativity and consensus.
You can download the tools and full instructions for 'Stage 2' by filling in the form below.
The overarching aim of the second workshop stage is to specify the principal elements of the model – that is, to determine the project’s objectives and the required inputs, outputs and contents of the model. The process here can be divided into four mini-phases:
- Brainstorm the objectives
- Develop a performance measurement model
- Extract the objectives
- Develop a communicative model
In other words, this stage might begin with a simple question – “What do you hope to have achieved by the end of this project?” – and conclude with a solid idea of overall objectives and more specific requirements, including data needs and experimental factors.
You can download the tools and full instructions for 'Stage 3' by filling in the form below.
Using specialist simulation software or a programming language, the conceptual model should now be ready for conversion into a computer model. This non-workshop stage is driven mainly by the modeller, who should aim to fulfil the following tasks:
- Continue to liaise with the stakeholder team
- Collect and process all relevant data
- Present the model to the stakeholder champion in anticipation of stage 5
It is conceivable, of course, that organisational shifts and/or changes in stakeholder thinking could occur during this stage. Further conceptual modelling might therefore take place, resulting in additional modifications to the model defined in stages 2 and 3.
There are no specific tools and instructions for this stage, as we assume a simulation modeller is already involved as part of the modelling team.
The third workshop stage should follow the development of the model and an initial validation by the stakeholder champion. This clears the way for a live presentation of the model and its results to all stakeholders, with a view to achieving the following objectives:
- Validate the model
- Rate the performance measures
- Debate desirable and feasible solutions
This workshop should build confidence in the model and help stakeholders understand and imagine precisely how their problems might best be addressed. It is not unusual for stakeholders to request further scenarios in light of these discussions.
You can download the tools and full instructions for 'Stage 5' by filling in the form below.
The fourth workshop represents the final stage of the PartiSim process. Here the goal is to move stakeholders away from the model and its scenarios and towards identifying an action trail for change. The workshop should feature four structured sessions:
- Review learning
- Identify the changes already implemented
- Assess the risks and feasibility of change
- Determine an action trail
Here stakeholders are encouraged to take the final steps necessary to improve their systems. These steps are likely to include planning, setting deadlines and determining who should be responsible for which task. Progress updates should then follow.
You can download the tools and full instructions for 'Stage 6' by filling in the form below.
Running successful workshops
As we have seen, four of PartiSim’s six stages involve active stakeholder participation through workshops. Since this feature is central to the PartiSim approach, successful facilitation is essential. We recommend paying close attention to the following points:
- Ideally, the modelling team – which might also be referred to as the analyst team – should consist of two or three members.
- Planning is crucial, which is why the role of workshop facilitator should be handled with care. This role should be assigned to a modeller, a modelling team or a third-party expert.
- The facilitator should communicate the matter at hand through dedicated activities and by using the provided tools. All stakeholder views, however disparate, should be considered.
- The modelling team and stakeholders should liaise to ensure the accuracy of outcomes to date. Justifying earlier results is vital for model validation and confidence going forward.
- Notes should be kept throughout. Ideally, this task should be performed by a member of the modelling team or a third party who can assist the facilitator in organising the workshops and collating useful information.
- Each workshop’s tasks should be clearly defined and separated. The facilitator should take into account the tools to be used, the time available, the conditions for progress etc.