The System Administrator Menu
When Caps is properly loaded and ready to use, you will see the System Administrator Menu. Depending on your license, you can create a certain number of contests, delete contests, or enter any contest.
When a contest has been created, the contest administrator can change various parameters before sending out the welcome email to all participants with the help of the bulkmail feature.
Setting Up a New Contest
Only the system administrator is able to create or to delete contest. The contest administrator mails the list of participants to the system administrator, who sets up the contest.
The list of participants is a CSV file containing the team names, their assigned groups (a contest can have multiple groups), and their email addresses. Optionally, the CSV file may also contain the passwords; if they are not supplied, the system generates the passwords.
CSV files can be created with any spreadsheet program. There should not be any header line. The columns of that file are as follows:
- group name or number
- team name, all upper case, 1-8 ASCII letters or digits
- password (optional, case sensitive)
- email address
Here is an example of a contest CSV file:
LIONS,ALPHA,alpha,firstname.lastname@example.org LIONS,BETA,beta,email@example.com LIONS,GAMMA,gamma,firstname.lastname@example.org LIONS,DELTA,delta,email@example.com TIGERS,FIRST,first,firstname.lastname@example.org TIGERS,SECOND,second,email@example.com TIGERS,THIRD,third,firstname.lastname@example.org TIGERS,FOURTH,fourth,email@example.com
Passwords are all lower case in this example. Please note that passwords are case sensitive.
A drop-down list displays all available contest administrators for superusers; A contest administrator will only see the own name. This way, superusers can create contests for other contest administrators.
Please do not forget to send out the Welcome email after having created the contest!
The Contest Administrator
To administrate a contest, you need to enter a contest. Contest administrators log in with their name and password, plus the contest name. System administrators can click the “Enter Contest” menu item and select a contest to enter.
All functions of the Caps contest can be controlled from the Main Menu. The Main Menu allows you to print reports, make decisions, start a contest over, set up a new contest, or change settings. Always end the session by logging off by clicking the small Log Off icon in the upper right corner of the screen. This ensures that all data has been securely recorded. To select an option from the menu, click any of the available menu items with the mouse. These options are described in the following sections.
Viewing and Printing Reports
After all team names are entered, the computer sets up the initial contest and stores the information you entered. You can then view or print reports for the Initial Period. Initial Period reports show the state of each custom cap company that the student team is now managing. All competitors are equal at the beginning of the contest.
To view reports, select “Reports” from the Main Menu. Reports for all companies and the Industry report will be displayed. To view reports, choose the group, team and period. To print a report, select Print from browser’s menu. Reports are available in the Initial Period and in all subsequent periods for each custom cap company. The Company Report provides information about each company’s operations and finances. In addition, the Industry Report for each period provides comparative information about all of the custom cap companies and summary information about the entire industry.
In addition, contest administrators receive a summary report with a detailed overview over the results for a better understanding of the results, and to support the changing of contest parameters.
To continue the contest for additional rounds, choose “Review Decisions” from the Main Menu for the class. This option allows you to make business decisions for the current period. Each company is listed on the screen. Click a company to select their decisions. Enter new values and click “Save”.
Teams have a different decisions screen, where they will enter their decisions. At the Decision screen, students can enter their decisions for the current period into the computer. The decisions appear on the screen one at a time, beginning with price. Depending on the decision level selected, the price decision is followed by the orders, promotion, and investment decisions.
As each decision appears, the value of that decision for the previous period is listed. To change a decision, type in the new amount. When done, click the “Save” button.
Students should review their decisions to determine they have entered exactly what they want. If the decisions are incorrect, they can select the field to change, then type the correct decision. If the decisions are correct, they can click “Save”. Even after exiting the Decision screens, they can change their decisions by selecting “Decisions” from the Main Menu before the period is closed.
Since the Caps contest is often held in a fast-paced, competitive environment, it is advisable to have each student team write down its decisions before coming to the computer to enter them on the Decision screen. This reduces both delays and errors in entering decisions. Decisions from all custom cap companies must be entered before the period’s results can be calculated, so student teams often pressure their competitors to “hurry up” at the computer. Bringing written decisions to the Decision screen reduces both the time required and potential errors.
When all companies are satisfied with their decisions, select “Period Management” from the Main Menu to end the round. The computer calculates results for the period and saves the results, which prevents data from being lost in the case of a power outage, computer problem, or printer problem. Reports for the period can now be printed. See the section on Viewing and Printing Reports for more information.
When a period is closed, the following happens:
- Decisions are attached to the team data. Missing decisions are replaced with the team decisions for the last period.
- The next period is computed using the team decisions and the current parameter set.
- The contest is locked.
- Emails are sent to all teams.
This page lets you also lock a contest, where students cannot enter decisions. After having closed a period, the contest remains locked so students have the opportunity to study their reports, and teachers can analyze the results of the last period. Once the contest resumes, the teacher unlocks the contest.
It can happen that one or more periods need to be undone, maybe because there were too many missing decisions, or the contest parameters have caused to contest to produce unlikely results. This menu item lets administrators go back to any period and to restart the contest from there.
Changing the Decision Level
The decision level determines which decisions (Price, Orders, Promotion, Investment the competing teams make. Select Change Level of Play to set a different level. Choose the number of decisions you want at the top of the page. Managing the Contest provides information on introducing the different decisions to students and on choosing the decision level for each round.
Changing Economic Parameters
Caps allows you to control the economic environment in which the custom cap companies compete by altering a number of values in the contest.
Type the value you want for each parameter for the current period.
Using the mouse, position the slider for the Total Demand to increase or decrease total demand in the Custom Cap industry. Total demand is increased or decreased by a maximum of 10% each time you make a change. The new demand level becomes the base or “Static” demand for the next period.
Review the values you have set. Click Save if they are correct. Any changes in the parameters take effect in the current period and remain in effect until they are changed again.
The parameters section of Caps gives you a great deal of control over the contest. By changing the values of the contest’s economic parameters, you can use Caps to simulate a variety of business and economic conditions.
Contest administrators can switch to any team so they can see that the team sees, and switch back to the administrator menu.
The built-in bulk mail system sends out emails to all participants, or to a group or recipients. An edit area is available to receive the names of the receiving teams. This area can be populated with all teams, or with teams that have not entered any decisions yet; entering team names manually is also possible. Several templates are available, one of them being a custom template, free to use for any purpose. Templates are HTML files with embedded variables, which can be edited freely to fit the contest; a preview is available to help with formatting.