Tuesday, 15 October 2013

How can O.R. help you?

O.R. is about finding ways to apply analytical methods to make better decisions.  Third Sector organisations face extremely complex decisions about the direction they should take and how to allocate scarce resources.  Without the tools to model different scenarios and understand the consequences of them, it isn't surprising that many organisations, tend to rely on gut feelings.
An O.R. practitioner comes armed with an array of analytical tools plus the skills and experience to identify the critical factors and issues, explore the different options and explain the impact of them in real terms.

It won’t make the decisions for you, but it provides some of the head to your organisation’s heart and, when you combine the two, you are more likely to act in the interests of your organisation and its beneficiaries.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Pro Bono O.R. in the Third Sector

What is Operational Research:  In a nutshell, operational research (O.R.) is the discipline of applying appropriate analytical methods to help make better decisions.
I have just taken up the role as OR pro Bono Project Manager at The OR Society.  Having worked in the 3rd sector for 6 years and having never heard the term OR I can really see the need to raise OR’s profile in the 3rd sector.  My first exposure to OR was the OR55 conference in Exeter, what struck me most was how widely OR can be used in any sector and the variety of OR techniques that can be applied.  On the back of this I am extremely pleased to be working for The OR Society and am looking forward to seeing the results of the OR Pro Bono project.
The idea of providing pro bono OR support to the third sector has been discussed among ORS members for a number of years; a pilot scheme run by volunteers has been successfully running since 2011.  In my new role I now aim to build on its current success and establish a sustainable, thriving programme of voluntary OR support to the third sector.
The aim of OR Pro Bono is to:
·         To help third sector organisations to do a better job, impacting upon desired outcomes, and build capacity by using the skills of volunteer OR analysts and consultants both established and student.
·         To promote awareness and understanding of the benefits of OR across the third sector and to wider audiences.
·         To give OR analysts an opportunity to practise in a wider arena and develop their knowledge and skills.
The problems third sector organisations are faced with:

  • ‘We have lots of different options for the future but it’s impossible to decide which to choose in such uncertain times.’
  •  ‘We’re under huge pressure to do more with less, and we don’t know how we’re going to do it.’
  •  ‘It’s hard to stay objective when we’re faced with such emotionally charged decisions.’
  •  ‘We know we’re doing a good job – but how can we prove it?’


We have already helped several third sector organisations and are keen to work with many more.
If you work for a third sector organisation, would like to discuss pro bono support or need more information, please write to felicity.mcleister@theorsociety.com quoting ‘OR in the Third Sector’.

Twitter: @FMcLeister

LinkedIn: Felicity McLeister