A serious game of strategic planning and IT demand management

Welcome to the world of UPGRADE!

A detailed, multi-player business strategy training game for you to experience online or in person. A holistic view of the sharp end of corporate IT where its contribution to business value is realised.

Create a world class IT environment to propel your manufacturing facility into the future. Tough decisions and careful planning of your time and money as well as leveraging your influence with stakeholders, to deliver the most business value.

Learning concept

Online strategic planning course

Introductory game of UPGRADE! online at Tabetopia.com
Bulleted list of the key training aspect of the business simulation game UPGRADE!
  • Upgrade the IT solutions to extend the facility's capabilities

  • Train new users for increased income and influence

  • Get the department managers to help with the cost

  • Optimise the solutions to improve performance

  • Create insightful reports that generate business value

  • Integrate the solutions for better data and seamless operations

UPGRADE! business strategy board game from Game-changing Insight
Image of the box front for Game-changing Insight's strategic planning game, UPGRADE!
Thumbnail of the rules for Game-changing Insight's strategic planning game, UPGRADE!
Box for the trainer collection of business strategy games Total-IT

Overview of UPGRADE!

UPGRADE! is a holistic business simulation game set in the business layer of corporate IT. It is a management game designed to support a game-based learning session with focus on strategic planning and demand management The game incorporates many ITIL practices including strategy management and relationship management.


In the game, each player or team is managing a small production facility comprising 4 departments; Administration, Manufacturing, Warehousing and Logistics. You are charged with modernising the IT landscape in your facility.

During the game, participants are constantly exposed to a need for strategic thinking through both tactical planning and strategic planning all with a backdrop of IT demand management. Players are rewarded for accurately planning their next set of actions.

The game as a whole requires careful timing and choice of the available actions in order that the maximum benefit is achieved with the limited financial and worker resources available.

Every step counts in this absorbing business simulation game, also available as a facilitated online simulation.

UPGRADE! is available as physical game, with a playable online version to support remote sessions and trainer development. 

Strategic planning and demand management with UPGRADE!

Image from the Tabletopia platform

UPGRADE! logo.png

...bringing you the IT Business layer focusing on strategic planning and IT demand management


Key elements of UPGRADE!

Upgrade the IT solutions to extend the facility's capabilities

Each of the four departments has an IT solution. At the start of the game the solution is quite basic, designated level I. Over the course of the game you will aim to upgrade these solutions first to level II and then to level III.


Head office has approved three possible solutions for each department which have been designated as gold, silver and bronze. It is your choice to choose which to use.

Each solution costs worker effort to implement and givens business value due to the improved business capabilities it delivers. Also associated with your choice of solution is the amount of IT resource needed to run the solution (the demand) and the potential for business value when analysing the data held in the solution

Example of a solution upgrade tile from the business strategy game UPGRADE!

Example of a solution upgrade tile as seen in the trainer variant (TOTAL-IT) and the online variant.

This is the bronze level II solution for the Administration department.

Train new users for increased income and influence

In UPGRADE!, your budgeted spend increases in line with the total number of trained users in your facility.


Each department in your facility starts the game with a number of users trained on their solution. Over the course of the game you can train more employees to use the solution in each department.

Training users not only extends your budget for the coming year but also gives you influence within the company.

Example of a trained user group as seen in the online variant of UPGRADE!

Example of a trained (left) and untrained (right) user group as seen in the online variant of UPGRADE!

Example of an untrained user group as seen in the online variant of UPGRADE!

Get the department managers to help with the cost

Your assigned budget is really not enough for you to modernise the IT landscape to the level expected by the company so you need to seek further financial support from others. You turn to the managers of the various departments you are modernising.

You can use your influence to discuss your plans with the various department managers and secure some funding from their departments' budgets. 

The commitment does not last forever and must be used at your earliest opportunity otherwise you risk it being withdrawn.

Commitment year 1 token.png
Commitment year 2 token.png

Example of a commitment from a department manager with the initial commitment shown left and the commitment that is running out of time on the right. This example is from the online and non-commercial standalone variants of UPGRADE!

Optimise the solutions to improve performance

The upgraded solutions that you implement are out-of-the-box with no special setup for your specific facility.

You have the option to tune your solutions to improve their performance  and possibly reduce the workload needed to run them.


The improvement is tangible to the users and their manager so will earn you additional business value. 

Example of a tune token from the business strategy game UPGRADE!

A tune token (left) is placed in the departments to indicate which solutions have been tuned

Create insightful reports that generate business value

You can choose to spend your time analysing the data held in your upgraded solutions, generating insight and improvement recommendations. Different solutions have different possibilities in this respect and you will generally pick the one that will generate the most business value for the insights it gives.

The amount of insight, in business value, is shown at the top left of a solution upgrade tile.

Exaple of the business value gained from a solution upgrade tile in the business strategy game UPGRADE!

The business value gained from reporting is shown top left of a solution upgrade tile.

Integrate the solutions for better data and seamless operations

Once the solutions in the departments are sufficiently advance you can begin the process of integrating them.

When you integrate, you create connections between the databases of the solutions which has the effect of increasing the insight gained during any reporting.

The improved operations and data continuity are rewarded at the end of the game with a business value bonus.

Integration tile from the trainer version of the business strategy game UPGRADE! in the TOTAL-IT collection

Example of an integration tile as used in the trainer version of UPGRADE! in TOTAL-IT

Placing this strategic planning game in context

Your company has recently acquire some small manufacturing facilities and you have been tasked with bringing the IT estate up to your corporate standard. Each facility with 4 key business areas

  • Administration

  • Manufacturing

  • Warehousing

  • Logistics

You have a degree of autonomy but must use a company approved solution in each of your business areas. Different solutions generate different business value, take varying amounts of resource to deploy and place a different demand for compute resources.


Each business area is supported by a solution which is upgraded through the game. You have three types of solution to choose from; gold, silver and bronze. Naturally the executive management team wants to have all business areas fully integrated with best-in-class solutions but you know that you can't achieve this in the time available. so it's a compromise. Do you focus on integration at the expense of maybe not having the best solution or do you go for the best solutions, knowing that you probably won't have time or money to fully integrate them?

Each year you have three action rounds in which the solutions can be upgraded, the number of users can be increased, management can be asked for financial commitments, system performance can be improved and solutions can be integrated. At the end of the year, you pay for the workload you have supporting your business areas and receive revenue for connected users

Your mission

You have been tasked with bringing the IT solutions up to date but you have limited time and money to get it done. The measure of your success is in the business value that you generate. You will need to secure additional budgetary support from the manager in each business area to succeed.

External resources

All the work done in the game is provided through an external agency with a company-wide agreement. The amount of work provided to cover those sites represented in the game is set at the beginning of the year

Upgrading your solutions

Over the course of the game you will be upgrading your solutions to better support your business. There is a price to pay for all the extra functionality though as you will increase your demand for compute resources.

Integrating your solutions

One of the ways you can generate business value from your solutions is to analyse and report. Integrating your solutions makes more data available, generating more insight.

Overview of the key actors in the Total-IT buiness layer simulation, UPGRADE!

UPGRADE! and IT demand management in context of Total-IT

UPGRADE! represent the top, business, layer of the Total-IT business simulation stack. Even though the game is intended for independent use, it is woven into the complete Total-IT simulation space with definable dependencies to/from the other layers.

This adds a richness to the experience and to the associated training delivered through the game.

Infographic showing context of strategic plannng and demand management

You receive money from head office according to the number of trained users you have in the facility

You may receive money from the managers in the business areas if you have been spent time with them

You need to pay for the time used from the external sourcing partner

New solution versions are designed in the service layer and deployed in the infrastructure layer. They then become available for the business to upgrade

You need to pay for the compute resources needed to run your solutions

An external sourcing partner supports the business in their modernization activities