Things You Should Do Before Developing Captivate Simulations–Part 2

This is the second and final part of my post on the activities you should perform before developing Captivate simulations. You may extend some of these activities to simulation development projects using other tools also, such as Articulate, UPK, SAP Enable Now, etc. While in my previous post, the activities that I described mostly focused on the Captivate tool, in this post I will explain the activities that are related to the management of your project, such as setting up standards, checklists, trackers, and processes; training the team; and managing the subject matter experts (SMEs). Now, let’s look at the remaining activities.

1 Understand the Scope

Finalize the scope of the project by creating a list of simulations that must be developed. 

2 Create Folder Structure

Come up with a folder structure on your computer for the project. The structure should have dedicated folders for your project deliverables, and it should be easy and intuitive to navigate. A good folder structure will help you locate files quickly and easily. 

3 Create Naming Conventions

A standard file naming convention is necessary to uniformly name your project files and to easily identify the contents of a simulation. So, create and publish the naming convention to your team.  

4 Create Production Tracker

A production tracker should be put in place to track the status of simulation development. Use the tracker to assign simulations to developers and manage the progress of your project.

5 Develop Production Process

Institute a standard simulation development process to develop the simulations efficiently. The process should take into consideration the various phases, roles, responsibilities, productivity targets, and quality benchmarks. 

6 Set Up Configuration Management System

You should establish a configuration management system for your simulation development project by using a tool, such as Team Foundation Server, TortoiseSVN, etc. The system will help you in version control, central storage, and backups of your simulation files.

Once you set up the system, allow your team members to access it. It is a good practice to add a comment every time a file is checked into the system. The comment should describe the work done in the version for future reference. Also, it is a good idea to check in your files at the end of your work day so that someone else can work on it if you are on leave or not able to work on the file the next day. Leaving files checked out will lock the files. No one else will be able to edit them.

7 Develop SME Interaction Process

SMEs are very busy people who in addition to helping you with training material development also have to work on application design and development. So, you need to find ways to optimally utilize their time. Believe me, the SMEs will appreciate and respect you when you value their time. 

Explain the simulation development process and project deadlines to your SMEs so that they can appreciate your requests for knowledge transfer and reviews. Identify how and when you and your team will interact with the SMEs. Train your team on any software that will be used to interact with remote SMEs. Typically, Skype, WebEx, or MSRA or Remote Assistance can be used to interact with remote SMEs.

8 Request for Simulation Scenario, Step List, and Sample Data

For every simulation, have a meeting with your SME to gather the business scenario, step list, and sample data so that you can record the simulation smoothly without any interruptions. The business scenario is important, because it will help you establish the context for the learner and help him or her understand the simulation better. 

9 Develop Production Guidelines

Developing a simulation production guidelines document is an indispensable activity that you should perform before developing simulations. You should develop this document based on the approved simulation prototype or proof of concept. The purpose of this document is to standardize the simulation development process, which will result in simulations with uniform look and functionality, thereby reducing the effort required for review and rework of the simulations. 

10 Create Review Checklist

The guidelines document can also serve as a review checklist. Instruct your team members to perform rigorous self-reviews using the checklist before they send the simulations for internal or client reviews. 

11 Create Simulation Feedback Tracker

Review and feedback is an essential part of the simulation development process. So, create a simulation feedback tracker for collecting feedback from reviewers. The tracker will help you effortlessly manage, track, and address the feedback.

12 Create Defect Tracker

Create a defect tracker with different error categories for your project. Use this tracker to document all the review feedback for simulations. This tracker will help you perform quantitative defect analysis and improve the overall quality of simulations.

13 Develop Weekly Training Mechanism

Create a weekly training plan for your simulation developers. Analyze the defect trackers at the end of each week to identify the improvement areas of your developers. Train your developers to address the improvement areas. Check the training effectiveness and improvement in quality week over week.


Good preparation and planning will help you execute simulation development projects within the planned effort, budget, and schedule. I have tried to share as many activities as possible. If you can think of more activities, please share them in the comments section below.