Happy Holidays!

President & CEO ProModel Corporation

Keith Vadas – President & CEO ProModel Corporation

The ProModel family would like to wish everyone a very joyous holiday season and a prosperous 2015!  We thank you for all your support and business this past year.  As always, our goal is to help you meet or exceed your performance goals.  We hope that our people and solutions were able to assist you in that endeavor this past year.

2014 was a busy year for ProModel filled with exciting new products like Process Simulator Pro, revamped new releases of ProModel, MedModel and Enterprise Portfolio Simulator, and of course our custom solutions designed for a host of clients across all industries. As most of you know, we have an extraordinary team of consultants and software developers always available to help your organization meet the next business challenge. Looking ahead, 2015 is shaping up to be another BIG year here at ProModel as we continue to develop new products including Healthcare solutions and other business improvement tools. 

Thank you, and I wish you and your families a happy holiday and a joyful New Year.

 

FREE ProModel Webinar: Predictive vs. Prescriptive Analytics

Join ProModel’s CTO, Dan Hickman, and Product Manager, Kevin Jacobson (KJ), on Wednesday November 5, 2014 – 2:00 PM EST for an informative webinar on predictive vs. prescriptive analytics. 

With over 15 years in the industry, Dan has an uncanny understanding of how important both types of analyses are to the success of your business. KJ, with ProModel for over 11 years, manages the Project and Portfolio Simulation product development group. He works closely with our clients on the development of advanced PPM (Project Portfolio Management) predictive and prescriptive analytic tools. He has the hands-on experience to best illustrate how the tool works and how it can help you with your predictive and prescriptive analytic needs.

Together they will show you how ProModel’s Enterprise Portfolio Simulator with Portfolio Scheduler provides the benefits prescriptive analysis can bring to resource capacity planning and project selection. Gain an understanding of the difference between applying predictive and prescriptive analytics to your PPM data, with specific examples focusing on scenario experimentation and portfolio optimization.  KJ will demo some of the newer features of EPS that provide logical recipes for modeling  and show how these tools can help you represent your unique PPM business rules.  The new business rules capabilities of EPS provide portfolio simulation like never before.

CLICK BELOW TO REGISTER FOR THIS WEBINAR NOW!

https://www150.livemeeting.com/lrs/8002083257/Registration.aspx?pageName=k09m7ldp55z3t048&FromPublicUrl=1

 

 

Demystifying System Complexity

Charles Harrell, Founder ProModel Corporation

Charles Harrell, Founder ProModel Corporation

One can’t help but be awe struck, and sometimes even a little annoyed, by the complexity of modern society. This complexity spills over into everyday business systems making them extraordinarily challenging to plan and operate. Enter any factory or healthcare facility and you can sense the confusion and lack of coordination that often seems to prevail. Much of what is intended to be a coordinated effort to get a job done ends up being little more than random commotion resulting in chance outcomes. Welcome to the world of complex systems!

A “complex system” is defined as “a functional whole, consisting of interdependent and variable parts.” (Chris Lucas, Quantifying Complexity Theory, 1999, http://www.calresco.org/lucas/quantify.htm) System complexity, therefore, is a function of both the interdependencies and variability in a system. Interdependencies occur when activities depend on other activities or conditions for their execution. For example, an inspection activity can’t occur until the object being inspected is present and the resources needed for the inspection are available. Variability occurs when there is variation in activity times, arrivals, resource interruptions, etc. As shown below, the performance and predictability of a system is inversely proportional to the degree of interdependency and variability in the system.

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Suppose, for example, you are designing a small work cell or outpatient facility that has five sequential stations with variable activity times and limited buffers or waiting capacity in between. Suppose further that the resources needed for this process experience random interruptions. How does one begin to estimate the output capacity of such a system? More importantly, how does one know what improvements to make to best meet performance objectives?

Obviously, the larger the process and greater the complexity, the more difficult it is to predict how a system will perform and what impact design decisions and operating policies will have. The one thing most systems experts agree on, however, is that increasing complexity tends to have an adverse effect on all aspects of system performance including throughput, resource utilization, time in system and product or service quality.

For Charleys new blog

ProModel and Medmodel are powerful analytic tools that are able to account for the complex relationships in a system and eliminate the guesswork in systems planning. Because these simulation tools imitate the actual operation of a system, they provides valuable insights into system behavior with quantitative measures of system performance.

To help introduce process novices to the way interdependencies and variability impact system performance, ProModel has developed a set of training exercises using an Excel interface to either ProModel or MedModel. Each exercise exposes the initiate to increasingly greater system complexity and how system performance is affected. Additionally, these exercises demonstrate the fundamental ways system complexity can be mitigated and effectively managed.

ProModel is offering these exercises to students and practitioners who are seeking an introduction to simulation and systems dynamics.

 

For more information please contact ProModel Academic

Sandra Petty, Academic Coordinator  spetty@promodel.com

Same Venue, Different Challenges

Weeds Pic

Rob Wedertz – Director, Navy Programs

Just a few weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending the Tail Hook Association’s annual conference in Reno, Nevada.  It is the first time I attended the conference not as an active duty member of the Naval Aviation community, but as a vendor supporting the enterprise through our role as the software application provider of the Naval Synchronization Toolset.  Surprisingly, other than keeping much different hours and standing on the opposite side of the booth table, the conference felt much like it did every year I have attended in the past.  There were many “so what are you doing these days?” conversations with old friends and the ever-present aura of “Naval Aviation is special because…” throughout the exhibit hall.

In fact, had I not taken the opportunity to attend some of the panels and engage some of our key stakeholders in pointed conversations it would have been extremely difficult to differentiate this year’s conference from any other I had attended over the last 2 decades.  There was a new vernacular that weaved its way into this year’s conference.  Words like “sequestration”, “draw-down”, and “budget constraints” permeated the Rose A ballroom, and for the first time in many years, I sensed a palpable uncertainty among the leadership of Naval Aviation as they extolled the virtues of tail hook aviation’s role in the world theatre against the backdrop of future shoe string budgets and unknown war fighting requirements.  (Ironically, the Air Boss told a poignant story of a “nugget” strike fighter pilot from CVW-8 expertly delivering ordnance in the fight against ISIS the same day the morning news detailed the withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan as “hostilities in the Middle East come to a close”.)

Given the environment we’re in and the abundance of questions marks hovering over the next several years, it should come as no surprise that many attendees, including most of the NAE leadership took a great deal of interest in the “little” ProModel booth nestled among missile mock-ups, Joint Strike Fighter simulators, and high-tech defense hardware displays.  In fact, as one of the very few (if not the only) predictive/prescriptive analytics software vendors in attendance at Hook ’14, we were an anomaly.

Tailhook '14

ProModel’s Keith Vadas and Carl Napoletano speak with VADM Dunaway, Commander, Naval Air Systems Command

 

A common theme emerged during our discussions with visitors and through comments made during the various panel discussions – decisions must be made via actionable data, courses of action must be modeled and validated, and technology-enabled decision support applications must be agile enough to get an answer in short order.  Thus the interest in ProModel.

While the Naval Synchronization Toolset is in its infancy from a relative viewpoint (we achieved initial operating capability just a year ago), ProModel has been delivering enterprise-wide decision support tool capabilities to its customers (both private and DoD) for over 25 years.  As industries have evolved (adopted Lean Six Sigma methodologies, harnessed data collection and aggregation, and leveraged emerging technologies) so has ProModel.  We have learned, alongside our customers, that there is significant “power” in diminishing uncertainties through “what-if” analysis and exploration of alternatives via technology-enabled decision support tools like the NST.  The questions the NAE gets asked have answers and it is discovering that getting there is a matter of adopting a philosophy that centers around modeling the behavior of the system, deciding on dials (variables), and exploring the alternatives.

The NST is that system.  Through our integration efforts with Veracity Forecasting and Analysis, we have delivered a software application that establishes the demand signal (the Master Aviation Plan module), models the behavior of the system (Carrier Strike Group Schedule, Air Wing Schedules, and Squadron Schedules), models the behavior of elements (the Airframe Inventory Management module) the utilization of the FA-18 A-F inventory over time, and provides a “sandbox” environment that facilitates optimal disposition of assets in order to meet the requirements of the NAE over time.

We heard, during our attendance at Hook ’14, that the optimal management of the FA-18 inventory was one of the focal points of the NAE leadership.  And although we’ve been involved in the development efforts of the NST for more than 2 years, it is the first time that the challenges of inventory management have taken center stage at a venue that has long been unchanged and timeless.  We felt privileged to be among the professionals in attendance at Hook ’14 and even more proud to be an integral part of the solution set to Naval Aviation’s challenges going forward.  We’ll be back next year and hope that the NAE is no longer talking about it.

Designing Better Care For Your OR

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Jennifer Cowden – Sr. Consultant

Earlier this year, my family and I took a vacation to a certain kid-friendly theme park.  As we wandered from ride to ride, we couldn’t help but note that, even at the peak times on the more popular rides, you rarely saw crowds standing outside waiting. The long lines were all contained within a succession of fairly climate-controlled rooms that obviously took some thought to plan. This particular company is big into predictive analytics, so I would hazard to say that they didn’t just guess at the maximum size of the line at peak time; they are probably not going to go live with a new attraction or other big change unless they simulate it first.  An interesting dynamic that we observed was that when a wait time for an attraction was lowered on their new mobile app, we could literally see the “flash mob” of patrons converge on that ride, causing the line to go from a 10-minute wait to a 30-minute wait in the blink of an eye.  I turned to my husband, who is also an engineer and a geek, and said “I wondered if their model predicted that.”

Theme parks obviously need to be concerned about a positive overall  visitor experience; after all, they are always competing for discretionary funds with other sources of entertainment.  Now, more and more hospitals are developing that same mindset: being cognizant of the overall patient experience to the point of modeling new spaces before they go live.  How many OR rooms should they outfit for opening day, and how many can wait?  How can they make the best use of the spare rooms?    Is there enough space in the corridors that the patients won’t feel too crowded?  Is there enough space in the waiting areas for the families of the outpatients?  How many staff members do they need for each department to minimize patient wait time?  Are there any unforeseen bottlenecks due to sudden dynamic shifts?  These are just a few of the questions that simulation can answer.

Check out Jennifer’s Ambulatory Care/OR Suite Model:

About Jennifer

Before joining ProModel in 2013, Jennifer spent 15 years in the automation industry working for a custom turnkey integrator. As an Applications Engineer she built simulation models (primarily using ProModel) to demonstrate throughput capacity of proposed equipment solutions for a variety of customers. Jennifer’s experience covers a wide range of industrial solutions – from power-and-free conveyor systems to overhead gantries and robotic storage and retrieval systems. She has also created applications in the pharmaceutical, medical device, automotive, and consumer appliance industries.

Jennifer has a BS in Mechanical Engineering and a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Busy Season at ProModel

Keith Vadas

Keith Vadas – ProModel President & CEO

I am pleased to report ProModel’s second quarter was very positive.  Like many businesses in the US we find ourselves on a serious upswing this Summer of 2014.  Our consultants are working on several projects in a variety of industries, including ship building, power management, retail, manufacturing, food processing, and government contracting.  In all of these projects our experienced team of consultants is working to improve efficiency, save money, and make better decisions for their clients.

ProModel’s DOD projects continue to thrive.  It is hard to believe it has been eight years since we started working with FORSCOM (US Army Forces Command)   on AST (ARFORGEN SYNCHRONIZATION TOOL).  LMI-DST (Lead Materiel Integrator – Decision Support Tool) with the LOGSA Team (US Army Logistics Support Activity) is also going strong.  Our agile team of software developers keeps improving the development process within ProModel and it shows. Just recently the NST Airframe Inventory Management Module was Granted Full Accreditation by the Commander, Naval Air Systems Command.

The time is also ripe for opportunities in Healthcare.  Our patient flow optimization capabilities are perfect for helping hospitals and outpatient clinics improve efficiencies.  Now that the Affordable Care Act has been around for a couple of years, its impact is being felt by healthcare organizations around the country.  The expanded insured-base, and the need for improved processes and different care models is making it absolutely necessary to consider the value of modeling and simulation.  ProModel continues to work with several facilities including Presbyterian Homes and Services, and Array Architects who enhance the flow in Healthcare Facilities design by using MedModel simulation in their design processes.

To better support our base of existing customers, we just released ProModel/MedModel 2014 in July and PCS Pro 2014 at the end of Q1.  EPS 2014 (Enterprise Portfolio Simulator) was released in Q2  and includes a new easy to use, web-based rapid scenario planning tool – Portfolio Scheduler.  You can check this tool out online at – http://portfoliostud.io/#.

There continue to be lots of exciting things happening at ProModel.  We have an outstanding team of consultants and software developers-designers just looking for an opportunity to PARTNER with you to help you meet the next business challenge, or solve the next unexpected problem.

Finding Impartiality in S/W Applications

Rob Wedertz - SME, NST

Rob Wedertz – Director, Navy Programs

As long as I can remember I’ve been a fan of and often used the expression, “I don’t want to build the microwave, I just want to press cook”.  (I’ve never been able to remember when or from whom I first heard it – my apologies for the lack of attribution).  While I’ve sometimes been fascinated by the inner workings and origin of things, in the end I’ve come to adopt the modern world and the pace at which it moves.  I simply don’t have the time of day to dig into the underbellies of things and investigate the underpinnings of how they work nor their interdependencies.  My aversion to such activities was upended when I joined ProModel and led (as a PM) our development team’s efforts to support Verification, Validation, and Accreditation at the behest of our sponsor’s modeling & simulation accreditation agent.  While I do not intend to “build the microwave” here, I would like to describe how I learned that the act of “pressing cook” must be accompanied by complete and total impartiality of the software application.

Software, in a variety of formats, is often used to tell a story.  When it comes to entertainment-based software, and for the sake of the longevity of it, the story should be a very good one.  Thus the reason many folks spend countless hours trying to “level up” (it’s all about the journey, not the destination).  During my college days, I was exposed to Pascal and learned that the methodology (computer language) for telling a story was via if, then, else, while, etc. statements.  Truth be told, I didn’t particularly enjoy trying to figure out how to make the computer say “hello” via that methodology.  Again, I am more of a “show me the story” kind of person, than a “how did you make the story” kind of person.  In that regard I’m quite fond of the software that exists today.  My iPad is a bevy of mindless apps that keep my 5 year old entertained while putting miles on the family wagon.  However, when it comes to decision-support software, the stuff under the hood REALLY does matter and is often as equally important as the story itself.  Through the VV&A journey we’ve traveled to date, I’ve become more and more focused on inner-workings of “the microwave”, both out of necessity and surprisingly out of curiosity.

Our software applications tell stories that often culminate in multi-million dollar and in some cases, billion dollar implications, not necessarily to the good.  Not only must the story be stringently accurate, it must also be 100% impartial (or agnostic) to those who might be directly impacted by the results.  We accomplish that impartiality by ensuring that we never begin our development processes with an end result in mind.  That is not to say that we do not begin with an end-state in mind (i.e. – what is that you want to know?)  The difference is nuanced in print, but significant when it comes to applying the right level of acumen and forethought into software development.  The true genius of leveraging software applications to solve complex problems is that once you’ve figured out “where and why it hurts”, you can use predictive analytics, modeling, and regression analysis to attack the root of the ailment.  In my simplistic mind, our software is being used to treat the condition rather than the symptom.

The rigor that has been applied to the VV&A of our specific DoD program of record is staggering when compared to similar applications.  And it should be.  While many software developers are not particularly fond of documenting source code and defining why a certain script was used, in the end it has made both our customers and us extremely confident about our methodologies, processes, and coding standards.  Frankly, (although I’d never admit it to the folks who raked us through the coals) we’ve become a better development team because of it.  Combine the penultimate requirements associated with VV&A with our use of the Agile/SCRUM development methodology, we’ve accomplished the delivery of an application that withstands painstaking scrutiny and is adaptive enough to answer evolving customer demands and utility.  In the end, the vetting our software application has endured at the hands of the accreditation agent is not the value added propositions our customer demanded, although it was a necessary evolution.  What really matters is that we’ve produced a traceable software application that is impartial.  It may not always give you the answer you want, but it will always give the answer that you need – the truth.