Monday, 25 July 2016

Analysts volunteer your skills to help good causes

Analysts volunteer your skills to help good causes by completing this quick online form

Once you have completed the form you will receive information about projects that require a volunteer.  It is then up to you to decide if it is a cause you would like to help out with.  It's that easy.

For more information about the scheme please visit

Thursday, 14 July 2016

New project with Pro Bono O.R. #volunteer #ThisisOR

Pro Bono O.R. is a scheme operated by The OR Society that connects professional analysts with short term projects in third sector organisations in the UK.

Projects require skilled professionals who work in operational research, analytics or related professions. If you have the skills required for a project, we’d love to hear from you.

Please find details of a new project below that we are seeking a volunteer(s) for.

I am aware that many of the projects are based in London and the South West. This is due to lots of recommendations from successful projects in those areas. Where possible we highlight when projects or parts of projects can be carried out remotely to open up the opportunities to volunteers based around the country.

In order to help us get a better spread of projects around the country if you have contacts with third sector organisations who you think would be interested in receiving support please do pass on my details or email me for further information to pass on.

Help on your doorstep

Charitable objectives:  To improve the life opportunities of individuals and families that live in the Borough of Islington.

Main activities of the organisation:
  Our core work is our door to door outreach and referral model called Connect. Connect aims to connect disadvantaged people with local services, addressing a wide range of issues, including: employment, welfare benefits, housing, financial hardship, skills and learning, debt, disability and mobility, fuel costs, volunteering, parenting and family support and health. Through Connect we help over 1,600 people per year, making around 3,600 referrals, and 1,100 further cases of direct support.

Project summary

Planning investment in information systems: Review the charity’s information needs, the data they currently collect, and working practices to help them specify their future IS requirements.

Time commitment
: minimum 5 days

: 2 days at the office (London, N1 8HX), the rest from home.

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 Friday 29th July

Please note this project is suitable for an individual, pair or team of analysts. If you would like to volunteer on a project but are not able to commit to the full time requirement please let me know as it may be possible to pair you up with another analyst. Lastly if you would like to work on a project with the support of a mentor please do specify in your application and I can try to arrange this.

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

For further information about the scheme please visit:

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Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Volunteer celebration write up

On the 21st June a joint event was held by The OR Society’s Pro Bono O.R. and O.R. in Schools schemes in order to thank all the volunteers involved in both schemes.  We recognise without their support and generous contribution of their time and skills these schemes would not be possible.

Guests gathered and chatted over an initial tea and coffee before The OR Society’s president, Ruth Kaufman officially opened the evening with her welcome speech.  Ruth said there were many possible reasons why people volunteer their time for these schemes including:

  • Love trying out different O.R. things
  • Want to make a difference in the world
  • Want to spread the word about O.R.
  • Like educating young people
  • Add to the CV
  • Meet new people
  • Take on more challenges
  • To support The OR Society in its mission
She added that both of the schemes contribute to The OR Society’s mission of raising the awareness and understanding of O.R.

Felicity McLeister, the Pro Bono O.R. Project Manager then went on to give an overview of the Pro Bono scheme and how organisations and volunteers can get involved. Pro Bono O.R. connects volunteer analysts with third sector organisations across the UK to work on short term projects. Highlights in the past year include making two promotional videos, increasing the number of volunteers and recipient organisations and working with some well-known charities which helps spread news about the scheme. The scheme has now completed over 50 projects and is currently working on a further 35.  To find out more about Pro Bono O.R. please visit:

Jon Richards, a Pro Bono O.R. volunteer, then went on to explain the project he worked on with Diabetes UK.  Diabetes UK’s supporter donation management processes was complex, involving duplication and using multiple external parties and internal depts. Two volunteers from Thales conducted a donation process review in order to provide recommendations to ensure the best supporter care and internal use of resource. At the end of the project Diabetes UK said: ‘We are very pleased with the outputs of this project. The team provided us with a number of recommendations and actions that will undoubtedly have a positive impact on the relationships we have with our supporters.’

Charlene Timewell, Education Officer, spoke about The OR Society’s O.R. in Schools initiative which promotes O.R. to young people and their teachers. Achievements include an increase of 10% in the number of visits in 2015-16 compared to 2014-15, re-establishing the OR Ambassadors in Schools Scheme for 2016-17 and a new design for the LearnAboutOR website:

Following the presentations guests had the opportunity to network over drinks and nibbles whilst looking at several case study posters we had displayed around the room.  The evening was a huge success and we look forward to repeating it again in the future.

To see the presentation slides please click here

Monday, 11 July 2016

Completed case study: Simplifying selection and improving allocation for Charityworks

Charityworks runs a one-year graduate development programme in the third sector.

The Problem

Charityworks wanted to learn how they could streamline their selection and matching processes to make them more efficient and effective as they scaled the programme up.

The Approach
Two Pro Bono O.R. volunteers analysed the contribution of selection components by analysing how the previous years’ results would have changed had they been omitted singly or in combination.

They used data on a selection of best- and worst-performing candidates to assess the predictive power of the different assessment activities

The volunteers recognised the matching candidates to posts as an example of the Assignment Problem and after reviewing the literature decided to approach it using the Hungarian Methgod.

They developed an Excel-based prototype using VBA to produce initial allocations.

The Solution
  • The volunteers analysed the components of the selection process to show which ones were contributing to whether candidates passed the selection 
  • They also showed which ones were better predictors of performance in post 
  • They developed a prototype spreadsheet-based model to allocate candidates to posts

The Benefits

  • Charityworks decided to dispense with their second stage assessment centre
  • Charityworks were able to make more data-driven decisions about the remaining assessment activities 
  • The volunteers learnt about a classic O.R. problem in a different setting and did some fairly intensive coding
  • Charityworks are planning to take on a MSc student to carry the work on, so spreading awareness of O.R.

Charityworks commented: 'Dedicated volunteers committed to the project added great value for data/insight-driven decisions'

To view the case study slide and other completed projects with Pro Bono O.R. please visit:

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Analysts: volunteer your skills for good causes with Pro Bono O.R.

Pro Bono O.R. is a scheme run by The OR Society that connects volunteer analysts with voluntary sector organisations across the UK to work on short term projects in order to assist them in making operational improvements. The aim of Pro Bono O.R. is to help third sector organisations to do a better job, impacting upon desired outcomes, and build capacity by using the skills of volunteer O.R. analysts and consultants. Types of projects include: data analysis, process improvement, strategic planning, risk analysis, efficiency improvement, decisions making, impact measurement, scheduling and business planning.

Volunteers can work on projects individually or as part of a team (you can apply individually and request to be part of a team). There is also a possibility to work with the support of a mentor. Benefits of volunteering include:

  • Being involved in the whole project cycle
  • Working in a different sector
  • Building your CV
  • New challenges
  • Consultancy skills
  • Team building
  • Learning new skills
  • Making a real difference
To hear what current volunteer analysts have to say please watch this short video.

Being a volunteer does not require any commitment, it just means you will receive information about projects that require volunteers.

For further information about O.R. and the ways in which it can help please visit:

You can connect with Felicity McLeister, the project coordinator, on Twitter, LinkedIn and via her blog.

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