Monthly Archives: April 2017

Third Place Winners of the 2016 MikesBikes World Champs

Practice Makes Perfect!

Dr. Sprocket from the University of Auckland landed third place in the 2016 MikesBikes World Champs. The team consists of Nicholas Goddard, Philipp Noack, Meng Zhang, Tingyu Fu and Yanxin Jifrom (pictured above).  

The Smartsims team reached out and interviewed Dr. Sprocket to speak on their achievement, experiences and advice they would give future students. 

How do you effectively work together as a team?

Comfortable team environment and effective division of labour.  Each member knew what was required of them.  However, whilst team members knew their roles, everyone was open to suggestions from other members.  Importantly, decisions were made as a team and in an environment that promoted open discussion.

What is your decision making process within the simulation?

We analyse our results, conduct competitive analysis, discuss our next steps as a team, and make our decisions.  We wait for the rollover and then the cycle goes on again.

What was your strategy going into the simulation?

We went for creating  high quality products and selling them at a high price. To complement and support this strategy, we made sure to allocate a reasonable amount of our budget towards Marketing our products.

How did you begin implementing that strategy?

We used the lessons we learned from the Single-Player and from our course.  We also came up with calculations to figure out the possible outcomes to get the best results.

How did you familiarize yourself with the simulation?

Practice.  Practice.  Practice.  Single-player is a great way to familiarize yourself with how the simulation works. However,  success in the team competition relies on team cohesion.

How would you describe the competition?

The qualifying rounds were very competitive. The final rounds and competing for the top four spots was tough, but not as daunting.  We felt that we were capable on competing for the top spot.

What challenges did you face? How did you overcome these?

One of the challenges we faced was managing our time. We were on a break during the competition. Some team members were working full-time while others were on vacation.

In addition, there were also issues with communication. Being on break meant that some team members went home (some lived overseas).  This meant that we could no longer meet in person.  Thankfully, through social media, communicating was not that difficult. However, sending messages online and not speaking to each other directly caused some misunderstanding.  We overcame these difficulties by coming to a consensus on all decisions.

Was there anything in particular you did that you think helped to prepare yourself?

The course competition helped us prepare for the World Champs.

How has participating within a course which uses a business simulation to supplement their teaching materials helped you? What do you think of the business simulation?

The business simulation is a fantastic way of giving students a taste of working as executives of a large manufacturing and distribution company. It also taught us the importance of teamwork.

In addition, it gave us an opportunity to try different strategies, make mistakes and fail in a safe environment. It also allowed us to learn from our mistakes and failures.

Comments on your experience with the staff

The staff were fantastic.

How to Forecast Sales Within MikesBikes Intro

How to Forecast Sales in MikesBikes Introduction

The video below will demonstrate how to make a Sales Forecast for an existing product and a new product in MikesBikes Introduction, as well as the complementary production decisions for both.

We have provided you with the script for the video below to read through:

“This video will demonstrate how to make a Sales Forecast for an existing product and a new product, as well as the complementary production decisions for both.”

How do I conduct a Sales Forecast?

A Sales Forecast is a prediction of the number of units we believe we can sell in the year ahead.

This should be calculated using your predicted market share of the total market size for the year ahead.

Estimated Market Size Next Year x Percentage Market Share

What is our market share?

So what we need to do first is determine what our current market share percentage is. To do this, view the Market Summary Report. We can see for our RC_Rockhopper product, we have a market share of 55.5% of the total unit sales last year. We then need to find out what the total market size will be for the year ahead.

What is the estimated market size next year?

If we look at the Market Information report, we can see that the demand forecast for the year ahead is 42,000 units.

Calculate our Sales Forecast

Therefore, our sales forecast is calculated by our market share of the forecast total market size for the year ahead. In this example that would be 55.5% of 42,000 units. This is 23,310 units.

Now that if you believe that based on your decisions for the year ahead you can increase your market share from last year, you would use this adjusted market share instead of last year’s market share.

For this example we believe our market share will stay the same so our Sales Forecast will be 23,310 units. We enter this into Price screen under “Sales Forecast.”

Once you have entered your decision, click “Apply.”

Note the warning displayed here. This is telling us that our current Planned Production will not allow us to meet our Sales Forecast. This is when the difference is greater than 10%. So we know we need to go to the Production Planner screen to ensure we are producing enough products to meet our Sales Forecast.

Production Planner

We can see on this screen our Sales Forecast of 23,310 units in this screen. We can also see if we have any existing stock from last year, which in this example is zero. So our Planned Production to meet our Sales Forecast for the year ahead is equal to our Sales Forecast.

Enter the figure and click “Apply.”

If we did have any stock to carry over, we would subtract these units from the Planned Production figure.

New Product Sales Forecast

For a new product the challenge is we do not have an existing market share percentage to work with. Therefore, a Sales Forecast for a new product can only be based on the Forecast Total Market Size.

In this example we want to launch into the Road market.

The Market Information report tells us that forecast demand for the year ahead is 6,500 units. If we then look at the Market Summary Report, we see that there were no competitor products in this segment last year. However, given the opportunity an empty market segment creates, we should assume that at least one or two other competitors will also launch into this market. Therefore, it is reasonable for us to expect to secure a third of the Road market segment’s total size, which is approximately 2,160 units. Click “Apply.”


We then need to our Production decision.


This concludes our brief demonstration on how to conduct a sales forecast and make complementary production decisions.

For more in-depth information, you should view the tutorial videos on our website.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email us at


How Business Simulations Help Graduates Get Ahead In New England’s Tech Industry

How Business Simulations Help Graduates Get Ahead In New England’s Tech Industry

The tech start up industry in Boston and New England is making a strong comeback after many years of stunted growth. To gain an edge in this competitive industry, recent business graduates from New England universities need something to make them stand out from the crowd. Engaging lectures, hands-on lab sessions, and relevant case studies are necessary elements of a well-designed business course curriculum. But they cannot provide one very crucial thing: experience. This is where business simulations, created by Boston-based Smartsims, enter to provide the tools to nurture fast-thinking, creative, tech-industry-ready graduates.
Continue reading How Business Simulations Help Graduates Get Ahead In New England’s Tech Industry

Why is spending in branding important image

Question of the week: Why is spending in Branding important?

“Branding is simply a more efficient way to sell things.”

-Al Ries

Here are the Top 3 reasons why Branding is important in MikesBikes:

1. Branding increases the effectiveness of your product advertising and results in increased product awareness.

2. In the next period, consumers “forget” the advertising to some extent, but any new branding adds cumulatively to what is left.

Note that branding does not contribute to the effect of public relations.

About half of your brand awareness will carry over from the previous period. The curve shows the increase in brand awareness (on top of what is carried over) achieved by various levels of expenditure.

3. This video is an excerpt from the MikesBikes Advanced Sales & Marketing video, which sums up why Branding plays an integral part in your Marketing strategy.

The same principles also apply in MikesBikes Introduction.

Do you have a question suggestion for our next question of the week? Send us a message.

MikesBikes Business Simulation Quiz Competition

MikesBikes SuperFan Quiz Competition

Are you a MikesBikes SuperFan?

Take one of the Quizzes below for the opportunity to be awarded the title of MikesBikes SuperFan and win one of two US$50 Cash Prizes! Participants have up to three attempts to answer the most correct questions in the fastest time.

Like the Smartsims Facebook Page to receive updates and winner announcements.

Competition closes 31 May 2017 (USA EST). Full terms and conditions here.
Continue reading MikesBikes SuperFan Quiz Competition

Action Learning and Business Simulations

Why Action Learning is Essential for Teaching Today’s Students

Increasing demands on instructors and pressure on tertiary Institutions to provide work-ready graduates, instructors are looking for new ways to engage their students as a means of ensuring success.

What is action learning?

Action learning is not one specific teaching method, but rather a philosophy and an approach which encourages action within a team environment where learning is every participant’s job. All action learning approaches are philosophically rooted in theories of learning from experience, as practiced collaboratively with others through some form of action research.

Education scholars agree upon three principles that form the foundation of any action learning course:

  1. Learning is acquired through action and dedication to the task at hand.
  2. Knowledge creation and utilization are collective activities, wherein, learning becomes everyone’s job.
  3. Users demonstrate a learning-to-learn aptitude, allowing them to question the underlying assumptions of practice.

Why action learning?

In the modern teaching environment, more is needed from teaching faculty in communicating and delivering course content. Socratic and other traditional teaching methods are not engaging students as effectively as they once did. Students now need to be actively involved in their learning, rather than passively participating.

Employing action learning principles within a course enables students to resolve and take action on real problems in real time, and learning while doing so. Participants become engaged within the learning process and learn transferrable skills in the process. Further, by encouraging learning through doing within and among groups, an individual participant realises that their viewpoint is just that – it is no more than a hypothesis. Through this learning outcome, the participant reaches a reflective state. These reflective states are arguably where significant learning is achieved through challenging assumptions and preconceptions about business.

It is thought that action learning also increases an individual’s capacity to collaborate. By being stimulated intellectually by their peers within this environment, they gain access to other people’s worldviews, therefore, enabling them to challenge their own views and behaviours, providing further opportunities for growth. The team-based nature of action learning often encourages new theories or ideas which may not have been reached through traditional teaching methods.

The outcomes from action learning produce greater self-efficacy along with heightened states of autonomy, meaning and responsibility. Authors agree that action learning is the first step for participants in a journey toward greater self-insight, greater capacity to learn from experience, and greater awareness of the political and cultural dimensions of an organization. For organizations, it is often a first step toward linking individual learning with systemic learning and change (Marsick & O’Neil, 1999).

What does action learning look like?

A typical action learning program covers aspects of traditional learning models, where a series of presentations might be given on a specific theory or topic, and then builds on this through applying prior and new knowledge to a live project. This environment then provides intrinsic feedback from the work itself, rather than from an external authority (e.g. graded assignments).

Throughout the course, participants continue to work on the project with assistance from other participants, as well as from qualified facilitators, who help foster an understanding of the work as well as the theories taught. The facilitator in each team is critical to change agency. It is important for them to observe teams during meetings and provide feedback to individual members and/or the team. However, the facilitator in this scenario should not become a supervisor, rather, only to encourage free discussion, reflection, thought and critical analysis.

Assessing action learning

Measurement may require key performance indicators that are not typically used within traditional teaching methods, since individuals and teams create their own workplace reality through ongoing reflection. However, conventional methods for assessment (survey and evaluation/examination) can still be employed based on the learning outcomes of the training or course. Inman and Vernon (1997)  suggest the use of narratives and dialogical approaches to assessments, such as scenarios, to embed learning through consensus-building processes.

What forms can action learning take?

One of the more common forms of action learning within higher education is business simulators. These are employed alongside traditional lectures as a teaching or learning resource where students form a management team to run their own virtual company. To succeed in action learning participants must apply their learned knowledge to a live and responsive project (their simulated company). This environment poses multiple different situations and problems that students must address over the course of the simulation.

As the simulation progresses participants receive both intrinsic and extrinsic feedback from the simulation itself, for example Shareholder Value (in MikesBikes IntroMikesBikes Advanced) and Marketing Contribution (in Music2Go Marketing & AdSim Advertising), and from their group. Business simulations also provide the perfect opportunity to integrate reflective assignments to explore the scenario and identify what students take away from the action learning exercise.

Throughout this process, instructors and professors (which under this philosophy are the learning facilitators), work alongside students to facilitate group discussion. This can be done in class, workshops or group meetings.

Contact us if you would like more information on simulations and action learning, or access to a free demo account for one of our simulations.


reduce manufacturing cycle time text in a blackboard

Question of the Week: How do we reduce our Manufacturing Cycle Time?

Manufacturing cycle time in MikesBikes Advanced is the time from when an order is received to the factory to when it leaves the factory (to go to the warehouse). It is often measured in weeks and indicates the responsiveness of the production process.

While simply holding finished goods stocks allow rapid fulfillment of a customer’s order, it requires financing (money tied up in stock). Long manufacturing cycle times mean less responsiveness to changes in demand patterns – e.g. if a new competitive product takes the market share. Hence, reducing manufacturing cycle time is desirable where possible. This will usually mean manufacturing with small batch sizes. However, small batch sizes mean frequent setups. Setup times must be reduced to avoid most of the capacity of the machine being taken up on non-product setup time, rather than working on the product.

To get the best trade-off between responsiveness  and capacity utilization in a fast changing market, investments in just-in-time systems and computer integrated machinery are required.

Other contributors to the length of the cycle times are:

  • Number of products
  • Complexity of products being produced by the firm and;
  • The firm’s factory capacity

A rough rule of thumb is that production cycle time will increase in proportion to increases in batch size, number of products or product complexity. On the other hand, it will decrease in proportion to any increases in factory capacity.

Do you have a question suggestion for our next question of the week? Send us a message.