Case Study

Bocconi University engages students at scale with the Beer Game

For professors at the top Italian school, the supply chain simulation is a regular tool in undergraduate, graduate and business school curricula.

SDA Bocconi x Zensimu

Selecting Zensimu's Beer Game

Bocconi University is a private university in Milan, Italy, providing undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate education in economics, finance, law, management, political science, and public administration. As well as MBA and Executive MBA programs from its business school SDA Bocconi. It is considered the country’s top university and QS World University Rankings has ranked Bocconi as among the world’s top universities in various fields.

Professors at the university are no strangers to running simulations, particularly within business courses, such as finance and business strategy. However, they were lacking an effective one to demonstrate supply chain management concepts, which would be very useful in various departments, from Management and Technology to MBA programs.

An effective supply chain management game would be an essential tool for showing the importance of technology in industrial systems, how innovation within operations is improving performance, as well as revealing all the roles and responsibilities of different departments in a company, such as Sales, Marketing or R&D, and the critical need for everyone to work together efficiently.

Bocconi 3rd in Europe for Business Master

Bocconi 3rd in Europe for Business Master

Bocconi QS ranking - 3rd Europe for Business and Management

An automated game simulation for hundreds of players

Next, due to the pandemic as well as the fact that players were located in campuses in different countries, students had to have the option of playing both remotely and in-person seamlessly.

Due to the scope and size of such a game, instructors would also need to quickly collect data on each game result in order to analyze team performances, select winners and provide an effective post-game debriefing.

Finally, since there would be as many as eight professors conducting the simulation, Bocconi required a set of shared best practices, configurations and unified access for all.

The Beer Game goes above and beyond instructors’ needs

In the end, Bocconi University selected Zensimu's Beer Game for its ability to meet all the technical challenges. Regarding accessibility, the app’s “Teams” feature provides each instructor with an individual account, yet allows them to see each other’s games and share templates.

Depending on the level of the students, who came from various departments and disciplines, instructors could show a one-hour video lesson introducing basic supply chain management issues. Next, it took approximately 45 minutes to explain the game rules and share the connection links, one hour to play the game and 30 minutes for an audio-visual debriefing between the instructors and students.

Due to such large groups of many players, instructors could not be sure of the exact number of participants as some could be missing at the time of play. Therefore, via the personal instructor dashboard, professors could share a personal link that would invite players to join one of the games at random, resulting in a seamless experience no matter the final count. In addition, if a student left or got disconnected from the game, the computer could automatically step in and take over the role.

Map of 600 students connecting from all over Italy

Map of 600 students connecting from all over Italy

Bocconi students playing from all over Italy

All the introductory and debriefing slides, charts, stats and graphs were automatically created — a huge time-saving boon for both instructors and players. The comparative analysis generated by the reports help select the winning team as well as spark discussion while analyzing individual behaviors throughout the game.

Giuseppe Stabilini, an associate professor at the SDA Bocconi business school, realized several benefits from playing the Beer Game.

"As a teacher, the app gives me several tools to reach learning goals. For example, the students are seeing better results in second runs, when allowing collaboration and visibility, when reducing the lead times between stages from four to two weeks, or with fewer stages in the supply chain, only keeping the retailer and manufacturer"

Giuseppe Stabilini - Associate professor of Procurement & Supply Management, SDA Bocconi

Bocconi University outs the Beer Game to regular use

Upon integrating the Beer Game to its courses, Bocconi has observed a significant increase in student engagement and their understanding of supply chain management concepts that help them better grasp more theoretical topics in the future. The app’s simulations and gameplay reinforce lessons far more effectively than through traditional lectures and PowerPoint presentations.

The Beer Game is now a popular tool in various courses at both Bocconi University and business school, providing a highly practical means for teaching supply chain management.

"The experience for students is really great. The rules of the game are easy to pick up and the animation and interface even make the teaching more engaging."

Giuseppe Stabilini - Associate professor of Procurement & Supply Management, SDA Bocconi

Zensimu beer game logo in Milano - Bocconi

Zensimu beer game logo in Milano - Bocconi