Wednesday, 20 September 2017

OR59: Pro Bono Consultancy Tips and Tricks


In case you missed it, The Operational Research Society held its OR59 annual conference last week at Loughborough University. With more streams than the Isle of Arran, it's safe to say everybody's needs were catered for. Pro Bono got stuck in, investing must time in the Grand Challenges, OR in Consultancy and Third Sector Modelling.

There was a theme than ran throughout the 3 days of the conference, and that was a general sense of community; not only were we there to recognise and celebrate the accomplishments already achieved by OR affiliates, but we were also there to ensure that the growth of the OR community is sustainable. Expert knowledge is not the only thing that everyone at the conference had it common, people also shared the motivation to utilize OR to create a better future. If you're new to the OR community, as am i, then the conference teaches us that the OR community has a strong sense of identity and your invited to explore all of the common interests. 

As much as I'd like to report back on all of the talks I was able to indulge in, unfortunately my time is limited, and so is my OR knowledge! But there are a few lessons I took away which are important to share among our community within Pro Bono. The great thing about Pro Bono is it's slim criteria in order to get involved. Our volunteers range from young to OR analysts and practitioners to the extremely accomplished, and the not-for profits we work with range from start-ups to well established registered charities. With everybody in the mix, its no wonder my predecessor has done such a wonderful job in growing the Pro Bono scheme, the diverse involvement makes for a great equation that equals success. 

Having never heard of Operational Research until six months ago, I recognise entry into the OR community can be overwhelming, With all that knowledge comes great power, and when you meet so many people who strive to constantly improve their knowledge, suddenly you find yourself feeling overwrought. It's the equal measure of excitement that makes you want to explore every avenue in the OR community, mixed with enough nervousness to make you second guess every thought that comes to mind. 

If your familiar with OR but new to Pro Bono then we still have plenty of teachings for you. In case you missed the conference then here are some slides created by our very own Ian Seath and Jane Parkin, with advice on the Pro Bono process. On day 2 of the conference, Ian and Jane ran a workshop which provided some hints and tips for Pro Bono volunteers. The things we learnt include a list of considerations when preparing for an initial meeting with a client, as well as how learning how to overcome obstacles and challenges that may arise during a project. Importance was placed on the need to continuously refer back to the project definition and objectives, identifying the needs of the client during every step of the process. Feel free to download the slides and get involved in the scenarios we looked at during the workshop.     


Also available, a complete plan on the kind of things to consider ahead of a kick-off meeting https://www.dropbox.com/s/2z356z76y8n9bvq/Example%20kick%20off%20meeting%20plan%20final.docx?dl=0

If you'd like to see any particular aspects of the Pro Bono application or project process to be covered with guidance from our veterans then please email hope.meadows@theorsociety.com with all queries. 






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