Operations exercises are usually performed with OASIS since the software is configured to facilitate them. OASIS tracks the flow of water and other important aspects of simulated operations, typically during a drought when water use conflicts are greatest. At each time step, system managers are presented with the current state of the simulated system, and also the recommended operations based on existing operating policies. The managers then decide if and how to modify those operations. The changes are input to the computer by someone familiar with the model (sometimes HydroLogics staff), and the computer simulates the impact of the rules and changes over the next day (or longer, as desired).
Because time is "speeded up" in the "virtual" exercise, the impact of past decisions on the current state of the system is readily apparent. It often becomes clear where and how operational rules and policies might be improved. Since all parties to the decision making process are in the same room as the exercise progresses, new lines of communications are often opened, and the participants build a common understanding of the issues.
Management decisions in operations exercises are usually made by actual system managers and operators, but those representing other interest groups can also "play the parts." The educational value of such an experience, and the potential for improving working relationships, cannot be overstated.