Monday, 14 July 2014

Press release from decisionLab (Pro Bono volunteers at decisionLab helping make the world a better palce)

Press release from decisionLab: see how the OR consultancy firm are supporting Pro Bono O.R. by undertaking projects with Marie Curie and Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

decisionLab problem solvers
making the world a better place
Where other supporters might run a marathon, shave a leg or bake a cake, decisionLab consultants are applying their problem solving skills pro bono, directly to the issues tackled by some of the UK’s best known charities.

Major corporations and government departments have long understood the benefits of better decision-making underpinned by Operational Research (OR).  Sometimes known as management science, OR uses maths, data analytics and computer science to help understand complex business problems and provide tools which improve decision making.

Specialist OR consultancy decisionLab has been instrumental in improving outcomes, and profits, in sectors ranging from aerospace to utilities.

Now decisionLab problem solvers are making better outcomes accessible to the third sector.  First to benefit are the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Marie Curie Cancer Care.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation undertakes research into the root causes of poverty and effective ways to reduce social and economic inequalities.  decisionLab Director David Buxton, one the UK's leading authorities on Agent Based Modelling and Simulation, is advising the endowed foundation on adopting this OR technique, which takes into account individual behaviours, to improve its research.

Chris Goulden, Head of the Poverty Team at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation told us that Although we already use sophisticated quantitative research techniques, ABMS is new to us and, with David’s support we want to understand if this approach can deliver more accurate research into the long term implications of government policy designed to tackling its effect.

Marie Curie is the leading charity providing care to people with a terminal illness in their own homes or in one of its nine hospices. The charity is also a leader in research into the best ways of caring for people with a terminal illness. The Great Daffodil Appeal is the charity’s annual flagship fundraising campaign and all money raised allows Marie Curie Nurses to provide more free care to people at a time when they need it most.

decisionLab director Liz Archibald and modeller Kevis Pachos are now working to improve the logistical planning of the Great Daffodil Appeal campaigns for 2015 and 2016.

Tracey Murray, Head of Fundraising Campaigns for Marie Curie, said: We rely on our biggest annual fundraising campaign to help us deliver services to people who are terminally ill and support for their families at a very difficult time.  We constantly review the way we deliver the appeal and with decisionLab’s help we’re looking at cost savings and operational efficiencies which will deliver an even bigger return on our investment so we can support more people with a terminal illness and their families. 

The three decisionLab founders, Liz Archibald, David Buxton and Kate Swatridge, make no secret of their ethical leanings.  And they are building philanthropy into the DNA of their fledgling business by offering every employee up to five extra days each year to work on charitable projects.  

Now, as a growing firm, they’re stepping up their commitment to make the world a better place through the OR Society’s Pro Bono programme.  David told us that “Conscious that being good at what we do means we have a role in creating wealth for commercial institutions, we want to commit our time and expertise to improving the income and effectiveness of charitable organisations too. Kate herself is currently on sabbatical contributing her expertise to projects in Africa and more sustainable farming initiatives.”


It’s not just the charities, and those who rely on them, who benefit from the increased expertise and capacity decisionLab contributes, Liz added “Our volunteer problem solvers get to put their analytical skills into practice in more diverse situations and develop their knowledge of different kinds of organisations with disparate operational challenges.  We see it as an enriching experience which enhances the skills we offer to corporate as well as charity clients.  We also get to educate a wider audience about Operational Research and increase awareness of our profession.  Everyone benefits.”