Modeling and Simulation in Complex Project Management

a chapter from the book “Evolving Toolbox for Complex Project Management” (Taylor&Francys, CRC Press)

Publication date:



This chapter is devoted to contemporary modeling and simulation techniques applied to complex project management. It is divided into two main parts:

  • In the first part we provide a theoretical overview of project management from the perspective of a systemic approach applying casual-loops diagrams, a methodology frequently used to produce a conceptual view of complex systems. We reflect typical causes of frequent project failures. We use a case study of a software development company to illustrate a common behavior when complex project spirals out of control. We provide a brief literature overview of project management simulations studies and give some practical advice for project management practitioners.
  • In the second part we provide an overview of three most widespread modeling techniques (system dynamics, agent-based and discrete event modeling) using some simple models of project management as examples. The second part of the chapter might be of interest to those who are interested to make their first steps in application of simulations to project modeling. AnyLogic software is used to illustrate case studies.


Simulation has a proven track record of studying complex projects. First research dates back to 1960s but only in 1980s the first project-specific modeling application were established. Since 1990s many publications have appeared documenting usage of simulation in project management. These were the early attempts to investigate impact of managerial decisions on the project execution based on the assumption that perception of the project’s state may be different from reality.

Time and causal dependencies are critical for project management. Static mathematical formulas that simplify the dynamic processes and abstract away from causal dependencies are not applicable for project management issues. This fact makes simulation a unique instrument in this domain.

The concepts of rework, undiscovered rework, perceived progress and real productivity are currently the classics of project management simulation models. In the book chapter we illustrate how to apply these principles learning the case study of software development project management.

In the book chapter we give key concepts how to build adequate representation of the complex system or process with various simulation modeling methods.

About the authors

Sergey Suslov is Director of International Sales and Marketing for The AnyLogic Company.

Sergey received an M.S. degree in Computer Science from Saint-Petersburg State University and has been using simulation tools and technologies until the present day. After getting a business degree and working as a software developer, Sergey landed at The AnyLogic Company, which has become a leading vendor in the global simulation market. In his 15 years at The AnyLogic Company he has seen hundreds of simulation projects in many different industries, helping simulation be applied from both the technical and business sides. Currently, Sergey is leading international sales, global marketing and technical support.

Dmitry Katalevsky is Director for Industrial Programs Department, Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology and Associate Professor of the Institute for Business Studies of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA).

Dmitry received an M.S. degree in public management from the Lomonosov Moscow State University (2004) and N. Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, State University of New York at Albany, USA (2005) graduating with honors. In 2008 Dmitry received Ph.D. in management from the Lomonosov Moscow State University. Dmitry has over 15 years’ experience in consulting and project management working at internationally recognized companies and leading non-profit organizations. Over the last six years Dmitry has been working at the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology, leading innovative technical university of Russia, being responsible for technology transfer and programs with industry. Dmitry is the author of several publications and books, including a popular textbook for simulation management (in Russian) and a simulation game for entrepreneurs “Startup: Limits to Growth”.

Project Management Modeling and Simulation Toolset