Welcome to "Preparing Your Beer Game - The Complete Guide," the ultimate resource for those looking to master the art of setting up and facilitating the iconic Beer Game. This simulation, renowned in both academic and business circles, is more than just a game; it's a powerful tool for understanding the complexities of supply chain management. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through every step of preparing and executing the Beer Game, ensuring a seamless and impactful learning experience. Whether you're a seasoned educator, a corporate trainer, or a newcomer to this simulation, our insights and tips will equip you to create an engaging and educational environment for all participants. Get ready to unlock the full potential of the Beer Game, transforming it from a simple classroom exercise into a profound learning journey for understanding real-world business dynamics.
This article is part of a complete series of blog post dedicated to the Beer Game:
I have put together a few slides which you may integrate in your own deck :
Explain the game rules, objectives, and how to connect : Download the Introductory slides (.pptx)
Get tips on how to use the Debriefing views and graphs. Read more about the theoretical concepts behind the Beer Game and the key learnings for participants : Download the Debriefing slides (.pptx)
Watch our complete webinar "How to host a Beer Game session?
Watch Webinar recording
Determine the number of teams to create
Each team represents one supply-chain with 4 roles : retailer, wholesaler, distributor and manufacturer. The participants will be dispatched between these roles.
In general, and especially in a remote context, I advise assigning one participant for each role. So if you have 8 participants, create 2 teams ! If you have fewer participants than the total number of roles, don't worry, the computer will play where a participant is missing.
Of course, you may alternatively create games with less than 4 roles, or more… The app is flexible!
Configure the Beer Game strategy
By default, each role starts the game with a stock of 12 units and incoming orders of 4 units for the next 2 weeks. The total lead time between each stage is 3 weeks : 1 week for the order + 2 weeks for the delivery. Example : an order week 0 is applied on your supplier's stock on week 1 and will arrive to you on week 3.
The stock cost is $0.50/unit/week and backorder cost is $1/unit/week. In the Free plan, games last for 12 turns (/weeks).
You can also customize several parameters in the Beer Game to fit your training needs :
Number of Turns : a 20 rounds game will last around 30 minutes (excl. intro & debriefing time).
Transparent mode & visibility : you may play a first game with no communication/visibility, then compare when players can see all the games data. We typically see students adjust their ordering behavior and collaborate more.
Delivery Lead time : you may play a first game with a long lead time (4/5 weeks), then compare when lead times are reduced following process improvements. The Bullwhip effect is usually reduced as the chain becomes more reactive.
Minimum Order Quantity / Batch sizes : you may apply MOQs or Batch Sizes on specific stages (on the manufacturer for example). Batch Sizes enforce orders to be of a certain multiple. This simulates a pack of x items produced at once. It will increase a lot the bullwhip effect.
Customer Demand : more variability and a more erratic demand typically generate even more perturbations in the upstream chain.
Other parameters : Stock & Backorder costs, Starting conditions (each stage stock & orders), Computer ordering behavior (variability, stock target) when a player is missing.
Create a Scenario
You may customize the games to fit your industrial context, brand, products.
Game in a Pharmaceutical environment
You can also schedule messages to be sent to the participants at a specific turn during the game. It may announce a sudden promotion or a change of situation in the game - in order to reinforce your scenario !
Sessions are by default Private. You may share them with participants by sending them the url to the session lobby page (such as https://play.zensimu.com/session/xxx).
For more control, you can also extract links for each team/role on Excel. From there you can pre-assign players and then send the file to the paritcipants.
Host the session in-person or remotely
Find below a proposition for a 2-hours session. Depending on your teaching objectives, the background of the participants, and the time available, you may of course adjust it:
Optionally pre-assign in advance participants to games and roles on a spreadsheet.
At the beginning of a session, introduce the Beer game context and rules to the participants (10min). Read more about the 5 key lessons to learn from a beer Game
Start a trial game with screen-sharing, and send a few orders as one of the roles, to explain the interface. (15min)
Share the link of the session lobby or the link for each role - and let the participants connect to their role. (5min)
Let the participants order and advance up to the point when demand increases. Then announce that a big promotion has started leading to a demand increase . Wait until the total number of weeks are reached and the game is finished. (30min for 20 turns)
At the end of the game, show the debriefing stats, compare the competing supply-chains, discuss how they could work better together. (15min)
Play a second round, with another setup : allow communication between players ("Transparent mode"). Participants will feel they have much more control over the different stages stock levels, and will perform better. (30min)
Perform a final debriefing on supply-chain optimization, collaboration, system design.. (15min)
Manage several games at once
It is totally possible for a single instructor to manage several games at once, either when playing in person, or remote.
From the session follow-up page, you have an overview on the advancements of all the games at once. Some games may run faster than others - this helps you identify potential concerns and make sure all games go on.
For more details on a specific game, you can access the stage with all its data, even if you're not connected as one of the roles. Just click on the link "access the game stage as an observer" on a game page.
If needed during a session, you can force-remove a participant from a role via the session loby, or modify the game parameters by updating the session settings.
Once the game has started, instructors can activate a timer. This forces participants to validate their order before a certain period of time (you may typically leave 1:30 per turn)
After a session, you can archive the old sessions from your Dashboard - then they won't be available anymore.
Would you like to test our Beer Game simulation? It's free!
Signup now and get an overview of all possibilities of our Beer Game simulation