In our Design for Simulation blog series, we’ll show you how applying simple design principles can transform simulations and help build stakeholder understanding and engagement for your proposals.
As a SIMUL8 user, you’ll know all about the benefits of building simulations and using them to achieve fast results and gain valuable insights. But what about Stakeholders that are making the end decisions? How often do you show simulations to decision makers to help them fully understand the process behind the results and the clever solutions you have tested to achieve them?
One of the key benefits of simulation is its ability to showcase process improvement proposals in a Visual and animated way. So how can you take full advantage of this feature to maximize the impact of your simulation? Step in some visual aesthetics.
Applying design principles and aesthetics to your simulations can help you to:
- Bring processes to life and present to stakeholders with confidence
- Improve engagement by including the ability to interact with the simulation
- Build a compelling simulation that tells a story
In the first blog post of the Design for Simulation series, we’ll look at how applying design principles can help clearly and confidently demonstrate a process to stakeholders.
Use visual cues to aid understanding
First – what is the main objective of building your simulation? Do you want to find and highlight bottlenecks in the current process? Are you working on a new or improved layout for a plant? Do you need to prove investment in new equipment should be taken forward? Asking these types of questions will help shape the focus for the simulation aesthetics.
For example, to show bottlenecks you could use hotspots, create visual cues with imagery or highlight work items as they progress through the system. Using visual cues for bottlenecks to show work items or resources building up will instantly draw the eye to any part of a process that needs attention.
Having on-screen charts running alongside the simulation is also a great way to show the impact of changes to a process on results. Being able to see how the system is responding as the simulation is running can be invaluable when it comes to presenting proposals to stakeholders. They can easily see the impact on KPIs in action and relate to problems (or improvements) straight away.
You can also use visuals to show when a machine or resource becomes unavailable. For example, if you’re simulating a manufacturing plant process and want to show machinery breakdowns or inefficiencies as part of a capital investment plan. This allows stakeholders to understand at a glance where and why the investment is required and see the impact the current situation is having on the process or system.
Anything visual cues you can use to highlight when something has changed state is what you’re aiming for here as they can really help stakeholder understanding of the overall process.
Bring your process to life for stakeholders
Those involved in the day-to-day workings of a system will usually have a deep understanding of the processes involved – but stakeholders and decision makers might not have that same depth of knowledge.
Presenting simulations that resonate with your audience through relatable visuals can be highly valuable. By using relevant icons and imagery, your simulation can take on a form that your stakeholders will instantly recognize and easily understand.
This could be as simple as adding a background image, such as a hospital floor plan, to help orientate the user and make the simulation seem immediately familiar to them. If the process takes place over multiple locations, you could guide stakeholders through the simulation by grouping these processes into simple-to-follow steps.
We recommend using imagery that complements your process and enhances certain aspects of it. It’s also best to stick to one style throughout the simulation, for example, using all flat or all realistic image choices. By choosing one style and using imagery/icons that work well together, your simulations will become more streamlined and be easier to follow.
By helping your audience relate to the process and understand the question you’re trying to answer, the simulation becomes more convincing than just sharing end results. Your stakeholders can see the full process behind the results and will have a better appreciation of the changes that were made to reach your recommendations.
“We developed the simulation using the floor layout schematic. I like to do that with our simulations because when you take it to stakeholders, physicians or administrations, they can all look at that and say ‘this is real’. I experience this every day. It’s not an abstract concept.”
Todd S. Roberts MBA, System Director of Operations Improvement, Memorial Health System
- Utilize visual cues to highlight key aspects of your simulations
- Add on-screen charts to quickly show the impact on KPIs
- Guide stakeholders through the simulation using relatable, consistent visual elements
No matter how simple or complex your process is, your audience should be able to understand and recognize what they see in the simulation. Applying some of these design principles will help you to highlight key information, make the simulation more engaging, improve stakeholder understanding, and ultimately, secure buy-in for your proposal.
In the next Design for Simulation post, we’ll dive into the interactive element of simulation and show you how including these can really take your simulation to the next level of engagement.
Have you shared simulations using SIMUL8 Studio yet?
With SIMUL8 Studio you can upload, view and easily share your simulations with stakeholders.