I was off down in London learning how to use a software package called simul8 for a couple of days last week. I’d come across the software when on my Six Sigma training in Edinburgh. One of the attendees was from the company, who’d sent her to find out how simul8 could be adapted for Lean and Six Sigma improvement methodologies.
The software allows process improvement practitioners to create simulations to experiment with changes to their processes, without taking the risk of making the changes in real life. By changing various parameters of the simulation it’s possible to look at, for example:
- Where queues of work build up
- How long events take
- How equipment and staff are being utilized
Lots of different ideas can be tried out quickly - simulating days, weeks or years of a process in a short time.
We had a real life problem to look at: helpdesk referrals in the Information Commons, where the software would have been very useful. Modeling the process and finding out how various approaches to referrals would work, without the expense of moving desks and possibly knocking down walls would have given confidence in the suggested solution – and provided a very visual way of demonstrating how it could work.
We bought a copy of the software to try this out, but I found it very difficult to get started with it. The course really helped me to get to grips with the complexities of the software, and gave me some ideas about how to use it for making reasonable extrapolations about the time savings which can be achieved by improving a process. I’m going to get started right away!