Conference Room Simulation

Early tests: avoid rude awakenings

Most projects fail or finish late and overshoot the budget. The underlying cause is often lack of coordination. Project managers take great care in developing the plan and requirements specification, but fail to consult with the departments affected.

The result? They lose sight of the big picture; project details and feasibility and its underlying assumptions are hardly challenged. The rude awakening comes shortly before the rollout - the introduction of new processes and structures meets with resistance from those affected, conflicts between project management and the departments threaten to bring day-to-day business to a grinding halt, and costs spiral out of control.

Is it any wonder? When companies are forced to change their organizational structures to counter heightened competition or comply with new legal regulations, they face a mammoth task. Projects that aim to optimize processes between the various departments, usher in more efficient systems, or define new roles and interfaces, are fraught with tremendous challenges.

  • Do the key players from the involved areas understand the new processes and systems at the necessary level of detail?
  • Are new interfaces and roles functioning smoothly?
  • How can conceptual gaps and flaws be recognized early enough?
  • Do the participating areas have the same expectations?
  • What can be done to ensure acceptance by the responsible employees?

To answer these types of questions requires testing. It is for that reason that we developed our tried-and-true, one-of-a-kind format: the conference room simulation.

Excellent results in the early phase of the project.
Positive impact on the overall project quality.

Sketchy communication, unrealistic expectations, missing key players, poor awareness of problems - the list of endlessly recurring errors associated with the traditional project management approach goes on and on. Yet most of them are easy to avoid - with a conference room simulation.

The format brings all the responsible parties to the table early on and the major process workflows are tested under realistic conditions. Weak areas and risks are identified quickly in an interdisciplinary environment. Departments can agree on improvements face to face. This reduces process costs, since the later in the process shortcomings are detected, the greater the expense.

Simulations are performed under protected conditions. Participants have the opportunity to run through all the imaginable process scenarios. Sources of error can be eliminated and process quality increased without adversely affecting daily operations.

During the simulation, participants can scrutinize the processes at the necessary level of detail. CPC makes the meetings very realistic and integrates any required prototypes of the new systems into the simulation. Role-playing gives employees an opportunity to rehearse their new roles until they become second nature.

Even though it's seldom mentioned in the high-gloss consulting firm brochures, projects do not produce winners only. The unlucky losers often do not raise their concerns until the end phase of the project. Whereas fears and criticisms surface quickly in the conference room simulation. Project owners have time to dispel reservations - an absolute prerequisite for the stability of newly introduced processes and structures.

Because the simulations yield excellent results in the early project phase, they have a positive impact on the overall quality of the project.

From analysis to the stress test:
Phases of the format.

Prior to the start of the conference room simulation, our experts put the existing process design to the acid test. The focus is on process maturity and plausibility. This analysis lays the foundation for the simulation's success.

  1. Together with the project managers, CPC consultants then develop clearly defined simulation goals - for each and every relevant department. This allows us to ensure that all efforts are headed in the same direction.
  2. The simulation concept results from the individual, orchestrated goals. That way our customer never loses sight of the overall challenge.
  3. The actual simulation is designed to uncover gaps and flaws, rehearse roles and processes, and especially to hash out the new processes, systems and structures and identify potential conflicts. Glitches and worst-case scenarios are typically part of the conference room simulation.
  4. Lastly, the simulation identifies specific action to take. In the final wrap-up, participants reflect on the simulation's main results and define additional measures needed.

Reference Case:
Everyone at the same table!

Companies are falling into the complexity trap more and more frequently. For our customer, a leading Germany automobile manufacturer, the IT systems in the plants merely stumbled along. Whether for diagnosis, spare parts ordering, guarantees or good will, every area had a separate system.

This fragmentation ultimately ran counter to the company's commitment to service, prompting them to clear out the tangled undergrowth. From vehicle acceptance to invoicing, all factory processes and IT systems had to be designed to dovetail seamlessly. They gave themselves ten years to accomplish that.

Quickly it became clear that this challenge could only be met with a conference room simulation. In the simulations, our experts spotlighted three cornerstones:

  1. The CPC consultants first worked on interaction. Through role-playing during the simulation, the customer's key employees gained an understanding of their mission in the upcoming change process.
  2. The simulation leader also gathered the most important people in the project around one table. This allowed the managers of the automobile manufacturer to work with one another directly to address flaws, winnow out inconsistencies and coordinate the system conversion in exemplary fashion.
  3. Because the participating area managers worked through over 100 use cases and variants under extremely realistic conditions, the subsequently developed IT systems enjoyed an enormous boost in quality.

The worldwide rollout ultimately went extremely well. After the change, company employees had considerably more time for customer support and service. Our customer was extremely satisfied with the results and highlighted the efficient and effective cooperation between the departments. Without the conference room simulation, holes in the process would not have been uncovered until later. The company would have incurred additional costs in euros in the mid-six-digit range - of that the project managers were certain.

"Our customer was surprised that the issue could be presented as a simulation and achieve such excellent results."


Portrait Michael Kempf
CPC Unternehmensmanagement AG
Am Flughafen
60549 Frankfurt am Main  


Portrait Sebastian Keim
Senior Manager
CPC Unternehmensmanagement AG
Am Flughafen
60549 Frankfurt am Main  

„Conference room simulations aim for early quality in projects.“

Jördis Schmidt, Manager at CPC