WorkFlow - Advanced Management Analysis Tool
WorkFlow is a revolutionary software tool that offers a unique approach to the management and execution of the shipbuilding process. By using system dynamics modeling and simulation techniques combined with object oriented programming techniques, WorkFlow offers users the ability to plan and manage large, complex projects and realistically simulate their performance over time. With the simulation capability, users can determine the state of the project at any point in time for a projectís duration. Moreover, users can alter project plans quickly and easily, re-run simulations, and gain new insights into why the changes produce better or worse results than the original project plan.
  • Creates a structured theory of the production process that will allow managers to successfully develop a strategic plan by integrating and managing the multitude of functions that are key to the production process,
  • Provides an operational methodology for testing present decision choices against the combined knowledge of the past in order to discover the most effective means of achieving production objectives, and
  • Furnishes new insights into system behavior and fosters growth in the wisdom of program managers and design engineers so that the quality of management decision-making improves.
WorkFlow represents a new generation of analytical tools, made possible by advances in simulation science. This introductory chapter explains the methodology that underlies WorkFlow. Subsequent chapters explain how to use WorkFlow to build and operate powerful models.
What You Can Do with WorkFlow
You can use WorkFlow to explore not only real changes and events but also "what-if?" assumptions and actions. By defining a series of "what-if?" scenarios, you could continue comparing the relative impact of many different variables on system behavior. For example, alternative work schedules, task sequences, labor resources, problem areas and additional management responses could all be quickly tested in a search for the best solution.
The results you can achieve from simulating with WorkFlow include:
  • Realistic project schedules, budgets, and design objectives,
  • Lowered development costs and reduced development schedules, and
  • Greater assurance that the plans are correct and that risks are reduced to a minimum.
Specifically, WorkFlow is a sophisticated computer simulation model capable of:
  • Establishing a realistic project schedule for any production effort,
  • Determining the likely impact of design/production changes or work related problems, and
  • Identifying the optimal set of management actions to improve results.
The WorkFlow model traces the consequences of cost and schedule of such "what-if?" scenarios as information delays, work quality, design/production changes and personnel shifts. The model assists program managers and design engineers in planning and managing effective resource allocation among multiple tasking within integrated product and process development teams. The program includes a graphic interface that permits users to define and simulate any number of "what-if?" alternatives to help determine the optimal course of action throughout the entire design and production process.
Problems with Current Approaches to Project Management
Most project management tools allow you to define the work breakdown for a project (i.e., all its individual work elements and the connections among the work elements) and assign resources to each work element. With these capabilities, you are able to plan a project and know what resources are needed throughout the project.
Some tools allow you to indicate the availability of resources over the duration of the project. Then, the tools simulate the matching of available resources to required resources for the project. If a resource is not available when a work element requires it, the work element is forced to wait until the resource is available. This simulation capability adds some realism to the project plan by showing where available resources do not meet the resource requirements and what the impacts are on the project.
However, even with the improved realism of this resource simulation capability, current project management tools still force you to make many assumptions that prove erroneous and have a great impact on project performance. For instance, you may input that a certain task will take 40 hours and will require five people. What happens when only four people are available? Does work still get done? Also, what happens when ten people are available? Do only five people work, or can the task take advantage of the extra people? If the work task falls behind schedule, should the people work overtime? If so, how much? Will their productivity suffer if the people are forced to work overtime for extended periods?
About WorkFlow
WorkFlow captures both the essential physical activities and the essential management decision-making activities that support the production process. WorkFlow provides a baseline for exploring the cost and schedule impacts of alternative designs, changes in work rates and management decisions.
WorkFlow is the first application of the production process embodied in a dynamic interactive simulation model. By capturing the complex set of feedback interrelationships that drive dynamic behavior, WorkFlow is capable of quantifying manhour cost and schedule tradeoffs, tracking changes in productivity due to internal and external conditions, and tracing the impact of schedule pressure on overall cost and schedule. The program also enables program managers to test alternative contract change decisions and come to agreement on which actions produce the most desirable results. For example, it could well turn out that a mix of both schedule acceleration for some tasks coupled with a schedule extension for other tasks offers the best tradeoff. Without a simulation model to test the alternatives, program managers would be hard-pressed to decide which action to choose and equally hard-pressed to justify their decision should subsequent events prove them wrong.