The Alaska simulator is an interactive software tool developed at the University of Innsbruck which allows people to test, analyze and improve their own planning behaviour. In addition, the Alaska simulator can be used for studying research questions in the context of software project management and business process management. Thereby, the Alaska simulator uses a journey as a metaphor for modelling and executing a business process or planning a software project.
Alaska for Software Development
In the context of software project management the simulator can be used to compare traditional rather plan-driven project managment methods with more agile approaches (for a comparison of different planning approaches click here). Instead of pre-planning everything in advance agile approaches spread planning activities throughout the project and provide mechanisms for effectively dealing with uncertainty. The biggest challenge thereby is to find the right balance between pre-planning activities and leaving options open and the Alaska simulator allows you to explore how much planning is needed under different circumstances.
Alaska for Business Process Management
In the context of business process management the Alaska simulator provides means for comparing different approaches for flexible process support (e.g., Late Binding, Late Modeling, Late Composition), which all aim to overcome the rigidity of traditional workflow support. Common to all these approaches is the fact that they relax the strict separation of build-time (i.e., planning) and run-time (i.e., execution), which has been typical for plan-driven planning approaches as realized in traditional workflow management systems. They allow for a more agile approach to planning by closely interweaving planning and execution. Using the Alaska simulator these approaches for decision deferral can be systematically compared and the strengths and weaknesses of each of them can be investigated.
This week the Alaska simulator was used for the first time in an international setting with master students of the Technical University of Eindhoven in the course "Business Process Management" of Hajo Reijers. Goal of the experiment in Eindhoven was to compare different declarative process models (providing for Late Composition support) for the purpose of evaluating the impact of the number of constraints with respect to process outcome (measured as business value and time).