The simulated companies are competing within their national market in the production and marketing of skis of a technical nature (resins and fibres). At the beginning of the game, technical progress allows the producer to launch skis using the same technology, (the same machines and processes) but with different raw materials and with highly varied performance characteristics and price factors. This technical progress also makes it possible to envisage countering the seasonal nature of sales, which regularly leads to financing problems, (particularly of stock), by diversifying into the counter-seasonal production of racquets, on the condition that the manufacturer acquires specific new machines. The companies sell their products through the intermediary of a network of specialist sport retailers, but they also seek to make direct contact with the consumer through advertising.
Ariane raises the problems encountered by businesses operating in a highly competitive environment, regarding the choice of a portfolio of products with strongly seasonal characteristics, as well as in situations where the risk of cannibalisation is high. In addition to the issue of competitiveness due to innovation, other factors affecting competitiveness related to production management costs must be taken into account. These factors include: machines, (capacity and productivity), raw materials (stock and purchase costs) and personnel (overtime and seasonal workers). This is important as cost prices for a comparable product between competitors can differ substantially. Ariane is easily accessible and lends itself well to forecasting and the analysis of objective/accomplishment gaps. The handbook is short and the number of decisions is limited.
Ariane highlights the importance of team work and global responsibility. It targets people undertaking:
- Initial training: It provides an introduction to management and a synthesis of functional skills training, especially for students in public engineering schools or science faculties. It has already been used by several thousand students, particularly postgraduates, over many years,
- Specialised training or continuing education: For those who hope either to gain broader experience and find new openings, or to extend their functions (especially for those with specialised or technical functions who have risen to managerial responsibilities, or who need to gain more thorough knowledge). It has used for many years in businesses of all sizes.
The company must make decisions regarding its portfolio of products with production and marketing characteristics. It must manage its purchase of raw materials and its investment in machines, as well as its manufacturing and sales personnel. In addition, it must make all the classic financial decisions.
Players can make a maximum of 20 decisions, depending on the number of products they release onto the market, (10 concerning the products, 5 purchasing and production, 2 personnel and 3 finance), plus 4 forecast indications.