Tuesday, 30 June 2015

OR & Oxfam: optimising donation bank collections (write up and video now available) #ORblog

Many thanks to Tom Cherrett for a great presentation on his work with Oxfam illustrating the application of remote monitoring technology and optimisation techniques to collect donations more efficiently.

To view the full presentation please visit: http://www.theorsociety.com/Pages/Probono/latestnews.aspx

Below is a full write up from the event (by Nigel Cummings)

OR and Oxfam
(The OR Society: Joint Third Sector SIG, SORG and CORMSIS Event)

A recent presentation given by Tom Cherrett, Associate Professor, Logistics and Transport Planning, Southampton University, illustrated the application of remote monitoring technology and optimisation techniques to collect donations more efficiently.


Many shops around the country have “food banks” where shoppers can deposit unwanted non-perishable items possibly bought in a BOGOF deal. Charity shops also often receive items that they cannot sell but are perhaps too good to throw away. Oxfam recognised that collecting these items accounts for something like 20% of their income and thought O.R. might be able to make significant reductions in this.
While the main focus of Tom’s presentation concerned work done for Oxfam, he also had the time to detail some of the processes involved in achieving logistics efficiencies in other organisations.  Primarily his talk concerned the implementation of remote sensor technology in donation banks to help organisations like Oxfam more efficiently judge “fill levels” and allocate appropriate times for donation bank collections.

Using the fill levels reported daily and derived collection strategies using tabu search methods Tom Cherrett’s team had achieved considerable efficiencies and overcome many obstacles associated with donation bank management. One of the problems they had to address was neatly illustrated by a slide which showed a small child being used by donation thieves to enter donation banks and remove contents (Fagin would have been proud!).
Such despicable acts were all too common, and it was a goal of this research to find ways of reducing this type of pilfering.  The work undertaken had involved equipping Oxfam banks with infra-red sensors that measured how full the banks were, reporting the data twice daily, and using it to schedule collections more efficiently whilst reducing thieving.
O.R. methods were employed to help provide indicators as to the most appropriate times to make collections. The proposed routes output by the algorithm used for each day of operation were then adjusted by Oxfam's transport manager to take into account issues such as round balancing, vehicle access restrictions, staff availability and other constraints.
A trial was run 2013 with the results showing a relatively modest time and distance savings (~3%) initially, these being limited by Oxfam's fixed shop servicing constraints. It was estimated that savings of up to 25% could be made by easing these restrictions. These savings were based on a set of rules that only allowed banks to become eligible for servicing once they had reached a specific fill level.
The fill/collection problem was made more complex by the need for the collection vans to visit Oxfam shops on a fixed schedule basis to remove unsold textiles too. Following live and simulated trials, the results suggested that time and distance savings of up to 30% over the current fixed schedules could be achieved when a minimum bank and shop fill level of between 50% and 60% was used as a collection trigger.
Some of the outcomes from the project are now being developed commercially in the form of a mobile phone app, to allow area managers, shop managers and drivers to communicate and manage collection scheduling in a more dynamic way. Other benefits included greater flexibility for transport managers working at Oxfam, to schedule ad hoc work and offer shops additional collections. The Oxfam drivers benefited too as the efficiencies achieved in logistics and better division of labour meant that sometimes it was possible to finish work an hour early.
The work with Oxfam is ongoing, and it is expected that further efficiencies will be achieved.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

#ProBonoOR is recruiting volunteer(s) for British Lung Foundation project #ORblog

Pro Bono O.R. is currently recruiting volunteer(s) for a project with British Lung Foundation. Please take a look and read the project scope to see if you would be able to help.  Please get in touch if you require any further information: felicity.mcleister@theorsociety.com

British Lung Foundation

Information about the organisation:
The British Lung Foundation is the only UK charity fighting to help the 1 in 5 people in the UK affected by lung disease.  We support patients, carers and family members through three pillars of activity: research, policy and campaigning, support and services.

Charitable objectives: For the relief of persons suffering from diseases of the chest and lungs and in particular by the promotion of medical research into the prevention, treatment, alleviation and cure of the said diseases and the dissemination of the useful results of such research for the benefit of the public and by the promotion of post graduate training and the creation of fellowships, hospitals, medical centres and research institutes.

Project summary:
Project: Review of current approaches to measuring reach in order to recommend a future approach.
Time commitment: approx. 5-6 days
LocationLondon (EC1V 7ER)

Please read project scope and if you feel you are able to offer your assistance please complete the application form and return to me along with your CV by midday on Wednesday 8th July 2015.

This project is suitable for an individual volunteer, pair or team of analysts.  If you would like to work on a project with the support of a mentor please do specify in your application and I can arrange this.  Lastly, if you are interested in working on a project but cannot meet the deadline specified please do register your interest in the first instance before the deadline.

If you require any further information please do not hesitate to get in touch.

I look forward to hearing from you and once again thank you for your help and support.

Kind regards

Felicity McLeister
O.R. Pro Bono Project Manager
(Mon, Tue & Wed)
Direct Tel +44 (0)121 234 7826, Main Tel +44 (0)121 233 9300

To find out more about Pro Bono O.R. please visit:

If you are not already a member of The OR Society and are interested in joining please visit https://www.theorsociety.com/ or send an email to carol.smith@theorsociety.com

Additionally you may be interested in becoming a member of our Third Sector Special Interest Group (ORiTS). For more details visit:  https://www.theorsociety.com/Pages/SpecialInterest/ORThirdSector.aspx

Other webpages that may be of interest:

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Pro Bono O.R. case study published in IFORS news #ORblog

Many thanks to IFORS News who are supporting the Pro Bono O.R. scheme by publishing case studies of projects the scheme has worked on over the last 12 months.

This is the third case study to be published (previous examples can be found in the December 2014 and March 2015 editions).

Thank you to Sarah Culkin who carried out this Pro Bono O.R. project for HARCVS (Harrogate and Rippon Centre for Voluntary Services) which was looking how to provide as much benefit as possible from a new service they had just taken over.  Sarah was able to leave the organisation with a clear strategic view of its roles and activities, something it had never done before.

Click here for the full article which starts on page 11.

Click here for further information on Pro Bono O.R.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

One click away from skilled volunteering #ORblog

Skilled volunteering is a fantastic way to use the skills you already have to make a real difference to third sector organisations.

Whether its a few hours or a few days, both the organisation and the volunteers benefit from volunteering.


To see what some of our volunteers have to say please read these two articles written by volunteers who worked with RSPCA and HARCVS:


Volunteer experience article RSPCA

Volunteer experience article HARCVS

To see the who we've worked with and the types of projects we've completed please visit: case studies


Signing up to become a #ProBonoOR volunteer only takes a couple of minutes but could have a long term impact on both yourself and the organisation(s) you work with http://ow.ly/Or0Mq 


Please share and get in touch for further information felicity.mcleister@theorsociety.com 


Please follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn for further information and updates.

Pro Bono O.R. is skilled volunteering for individuals with operational research/analytical experience.  Please note projects can be carried out individually, in teams and with a mentor if required.

For information on other skilled volunteering organisations please visit:
Career Volunteer or Reach Skills

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Doing good at doing O.R. #ORblog

As part of Pro Bono O.R. I like to seek feedback from both the volunteers and the organisations to find out how the projects are going.  The scheme has received overwhelmingly positive support since launching in September 2013 and I wanted to take this opportunity to share the latest endorsements.


Thank you to Simon Glenister for the feedback on the #ProBonoOR project carried out for Noise Solution on behalf of The OR Society: 'The commitment shown to the idea of the project was excellent. The volunteer did a really good job of understanding what was required. He produced some excellent work, that looked visually great and has been instrumental in me being able to demonstrate clearly the impacts that we are achieving with Noise Solution'.  

The project case study slide will be posted soon - watch this space!

Two Pro Bono O.R. volunteers started supporting Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) back in 2014, giving independent & expert advice on the commission & use of poverty models. Thank you to Chris Goulden for the feedback on the support you've received so far: 'I've been extremely pleased with the O.R. input'. 


Lastly, thank you to NAVCA who promoted Pro Bono O.R. in their latest publication, sharing an example of how Pro Bono O.R. helped Harrogate & Rippon CVS 'to get a robust picture of the costs of running the well being service and any issues to be addressed in the light of forthcoming finding cuts and contract changes' 


Pro Bono O.R. provides free support to third sector organisations across the UK, helping them to make operational improvements e.g. 
  • Strategic planning/review  
  • Impact measurement 
  • Process improvement 
  • Data analysis 
  • Business planning 
  • Efficiency improvement 
  • Options appraisal


To find out how your third sector organisation could receive free support please contactfelicity.mcleister@theorsociety.com

To sign up to become a volunteer please Pro Bono O.R.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Pro Bono O.R. is seeking a skilled volunteer for an audience segmentation project with Sense #ProBonoOR #ORblog #Sense

Pro Bono O.R. is currently recruiting volunteers for a project with Sense.  Please take a look and read the project scope to see if you would be able to help.  Please get in touch if you require any further information.

Sense

Information about the organisation:

A national charity that supports and campaigns for children and adults who are deafblind or have sensory impairments
Charitable objectives: To support and promote the interests of people who are deafblind, multi-sensory-impaired, or who have a single sensory impairment with additional needs.

Project summary:

Project: Audience segmentation: To create an audience segmentation that would look across all Sense supporters as the starting point of a project to deliver a new approach to Supporter Relationship Management.

Time commitment: approx. 5 days over 2-3 months

LocationLondon (The volunteer will need to have an initial session at Sense HQ but after that it will be possible to arrange remote access to the data.)

Please read the detailed project scope and if you feel you are able to offer your assistance please complete the application form and return to me along with your CV by midday on Wednesday 24th June 2015.

This project is suitable for an individual volunteer or as a pair (with one carrying out the project and one quality assuring the work).  if you would like to work on a project with the support of a mentor please do specify in your application and I can arrange this.  Lastly, if you are interested in working on a project but cannot meet the deadline specified please do register your interest in the first instance before the deadline.

If you require any further information please do not hesitate to get in touch.

I look forward to hearing from you and once again thank you for your help and support.

Kind regards
Felicity McLeister
O.R. Pro Bono Project Manager
(Mon, Tue & Wed)
Direct Tel +44 (0)121 234 7826, Main Tel +44 (0)121 233 9300

If you are not already a member of The OR Society and are interested in joining please visit https://www.theorsociety.com/ or send an email to carol.smith@theorsociety.com

Additionally you may be interested in becoming a member of our Third Sector Special Interest Group (ORiTS). For more details visit:  https://www.theorsociety.com/Pages/SpecialInterest/ORThirdSector.aspx

Other webpages that may be of interest:

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Share the good news #ProBonoOR #ORblog

The success of the Pro Bono O.R. scheme has been can be largely attributed to two things, firstly our amazing volunteers and secondly those that endorse the scheme in order to help more organisations hear about the work we do and be able to sign up for support.

Today I would like to thanks NACVA for publishing an article promoting the scheme and HARCVS who have given high praise for the work pro Bono O.R. carried out for them. https://twitter.com/ChiefExecHARCVS/status/608536394198331392

To continue the success of this great scheme that is making a real difference to UK based third sector organisations please consider signing up to become a volunteer here as well as telling others about the scheme.  Third sector organisations can benefit from a wide range of operational improvements through Pro Bono O.R., including efficiency improvement, business planning, options appraisal, impact measurement, strategic planning/review, process improvement, data analysis etc.  Whatever the aim, O.R. can offer the flexibility and adaptability to provide objective help.

For further infomation please visit the webpage or contact me at felicity.mcleister@theorsociety.com

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

How volunteering will lift your company's performance #ORblog #ProBonoOR

There is increasing evidence to suggest that volunteering is beneficial for the individual volunteering, the receiving organisation/person and the company the volunteer works for.  Work place volunteering schemes are on the rise and this article by Steve Wilkins explains why:

http://www.managers.org.uk/insights/news/2015/may/how-volunteering-will-lift-your-firms-performance

If you and your company want to get involved in skilled volunteering please do get in touch.  The organisations who've already signed up to support the Pro Bono O.R.scheme have been really positive. A designated person within the organisation received emails regarding projects and this is then sent to relevant employees.  Employees can then choose to apply to work on a project either individually, in pairs or as a team.  Mentors are also available.  Some projects are completed purely in 'volunteer days' given by the organisations, others are a mixture between 'volunteer' days and the individuals own time.

Even if your organisation does not have an employee volunteering program I would still appreciate it if you could promote the scheme to relevant employees who could then sign up individually as volunteers and can then carry out projects in their own time.

To find out more about the scheme please visit the webpage
To sign up as a volunteer please complete the volunteer details form
To get in touch please email felicity.mcleister@theorsociety.com or call 0121 233 9300

Additionally I am happy to visit your organisation to give a talk to interested employees or answer any questions.  For further information please get in touch.

Monday, 1 June 2015

A big thank you to all our volunteers #volunteersweek #ORblog

As we start Volunteers Week I'd like to say a huge thank you to all the Pro Bono O.R. volunteers without whom the Pro Bono O.R. scheme would not be possible.

We have over 300 registered volunteers across the UK, of whom over 100 have applied to work on projects and 54 have completed or are currently working on projects.

Since September 2013, we have completed 18 projects and are currently working on a further 16.

For details of the projects we have worked on please visit: Pro Bono O.R. webpage

Here is what some of the organisations we've worked with have to say:

Springboard
The work is already supporting our planning and development for next year and allowing us to focus our thoughts and decisions on the places of most importance for our organisation. It has helped us to come up with new solutions already.
(CEO)
Crimestoppers
We've benefited hugely from your work and support in all areas of the project, and from an organisational perspective you've enabled us to take a highly professional approach to increasing the efficiency of our charity.
(Performance Manager)
The Cardinal Hume Centre
We valued the opportunity to work collaboratively and without doubt benefited from the analyst’s expertise and commitment to the project.
 (Operations Director)
The Dachshund Breed Council
Brilliant – it makes the predictions of risk visible. This will be so useful.
(Lafora Screening Co-ordinators)
HARCVS
I'm really pleased with the report and it will be very useful indeed for forward planning and to support our Big Lottery bid.

 (CEO)

Here is what some of our volunteers have to say:

"It’s a chance to make a difference, practice getting to the heart of a problem quickly, meet some very dedicated people and use techniques which you might not in your every day job"

"Being a volunteer was a great way to make a real difference for an organisation with people that were clearly passionate about what they do. At the same time I've added some interesting people to my network and expanded the breadth of projects I've undertaken on my CV"

"Working as a pro bono volunteer is a great way to contribute some professional expertise to some truly worthwhile causes.  The Third Sector is full of people who feel passionately about their Mission, so working with them is invariably a positive learning experience"


"I've really enjoyed working with third sector organisations and found the staff extremely positive about the contribution we make"

I have thoroughly enjoyed my role promoting and managing the scheme and look forward to the impact the scheme will have during the rest of 2015.

To find out more please follow me on twitterLinkedIn or send an email to felicity.mcleister@theorsociety.com