So you want to Run a high quality Business Simulation Competition

Business simulator

Business simulation competition event organisation takes time, planning and of course a good simulation platform. Scroll down to view my thoughts on high quality business simulation use, but for now let’s consider the critical thinking issues…

Business Simulation Competition event thinking

The key question to ask right at the start is: Why run the event? What is the purpose of the business simulation competition event?

Over the years I’ve been involved in events that develop enterprise and employability skills amongst students aged 15+ as well as competitions designed to showcase business talent to recruiters. I’ve also been part of planning teams that have run national college competitions to find the best ‘business brains’; and these annual events have culminated in an international final in another country.

Then there are the workplace events that typically use competitions to engage employees in enjoyable learning about a specific business topic. I’ve worked with large supermarket chains, high street banks, SMEs and regional membership bodies. On every occasion the mix of engagement and learning worked very well.

Event Planning

Successful events can take months of planning. Once the purpose is established, generating an audience, arranging a venue(s) and dates, communicating arrangements and ensuring a support team (administration, judges, event speakers etc. are in place) all need consideration.

If your business simulation competition is part of an in-house event within a workplace or education setting, planning arrangements are more straightforward. However, all competitions require a clear set of rules.

Competition Rules and Fairness

A business simulation competition needs a target so people know how to win. Goals are typically associated with financial achievement such as highest company valuation or overall net profit. Don’t have woolly goals as this is the route to chaos and fall-out.

Events with which I’ve been involved have included other competitive elements such as post-simulation team presentations. This feature adds an additional layer of complexity as judges have to be recruited and briefed. However, the added learning value can be considerable because important soft skills are now part of the assessed equation. Beware, including presentations requires teams to plan and deliver and you need to schedule at least 10 mins per team. To be be fair to all, each team should present to the same judging panel. All of this absorbs precious time.

Event Timing and Schedules

From a logistics point of view, it’s easiest to run a business simulation competition in one location over a single day. Engaged participants certainly generate a buzz and excitement. However, if your event is particularly large-scale (involving 100+ people) and/or there is a need to have multiple rounds, more time may be required.

The challenge of running an event over more than one day is often the cost. Venue hire, overnight accommodation and refreshments are all expenses that have to be budgeted for – not easy unless you have a generous sponsor. But there is a way to reduce costs – and that’s by running some or all of the business simulation competition online.

Take your Business Simulation Competition event online

Whilst the original business simulation competition events with which I’ve been involved have used an off-line simulator, most now use the online resource SimVenture Evolution. Having an online simulator means events can be run completely virtually; or at least all rounds leading up to the finals can be organised without the worry of hiring a physical venue and paying for refreshments etc.

business simulation competition
SimVenture Evolution (Menu Screen)

Online competitions obviously don’t create the buzz and excitement that you experience when people are in a physical space. However, resources such as SimVenture Evolution also come with features such as an online leader-board so organisers can view and choose how and when to share critical data with participants.

An online business simulator is a powerful way to run a cost effective event that engages people. If your high quality business simulation competition has multiple rounds, consider making the finals the only part that involves people in a physical space. But what do the arrangements for the finals of a business simulation competition look like?

Competition Logistics

Ahead of the event itself, computer hardware and software needs to be checked and tested. If participants are bringing their own laptops, ensure the hardware is ‘simulation software compatible’. For online simulation events, advise people about use of appropriate browsers.

Running over a day, a competition structure (with times) should look something like this:

  • At least one day prior test all hardware, software and internet connections
  • Have a clear plan for room layout. Teams of 2, 3 or 4 work best for competitions so setup tables accordingly
  • Ensure electrical extension connections to all tables. Some laptop batteries will run dry otherwise
  • Setup a registration desk and have at least one large presentation screen that can share ongoing results
  • Advise guests to arrive at 9.30am with a view to starting the event at 10am.
  • Formal welcome and guest speakers between 10am and 10.30am
  • For all day events use the next hour as a practice simulation session or alternative activity (e.g. marshmallow challenge)
  • Early lunch followed by business simulation competition introduction
  • From 1.30pm to 3pm or 3.30pm run the competition
  • 3.30pm – 4pm is a break and a time for judges to assess results and prepare awards etc
  • Gather everyone and announce results and present prizes between 4pm and 4.30pm
  • 4.30 onwards – photographs, networking and close

Which high quality Business Simulation Competition Platform to use?

Our team has been running business simulation competitions with education and workplace clients all over the world since 2007.

business simulation competition
Umph! Winning Team 2013

For several years we used the offline simulator SimVenture Classic with clients like Asda and Telkom Indonesia. Many universities and groups of schools also organised highly successful competitions.

The most long-running event ‘Umph!’ was organised & sponsored by Grant Thornton and hosted by Huddersfield Town Football Club (25+ school and college teams from all over Yorkshire ran their simulated business in the corporate boxes).

Business Simulation Recommendation

In recent years, the powerful and flexible on-line simulator SimVenture Evolution has become the business simulation competition king. Using Evolution, teams compete against each other or the computer regardless of location.

business simulation competition
Evolution offers in game virtual briefing

This authentic learning solution, which emulates a bicycle manufacturing company, allows individuals or groups to run a business for up to 10 simulated years (in quarters) thus allowing for up to an impressive 40 turns. The simulation covers nearly every aspect of business which means users are both challenged and engaged. The extensive design detail means little is left to chance.

Competition judges can work in the event space or remotely. The administration ‘Control Tower’ which is part of the Evolution platform allows event organisers to create teams and then monitor, communicate, assess and even share participant progress on a public or digital leader-board at any time.

If you want to run a high quality business simulation competition event that engages and challenges participants, develops key skills and ensures people enjoy and talk about the event for years, SimVenture Evolution is a very hard act to follow.

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