Operational Research (OR) is the discipline of applying appropriate analytical methods to help make better decisions. OR is also perhaps the world's least known
OR can be characterised as "the science of better":
- OR is a science because it uses the approach of hypothesis - experiment - analysis - change to support decision making for organisations and compapnies.
OR generally uses mathematics and analogies from the physical sciences in order to construct models of the business problem, so that the outcomes from different solutions or approaches can be
tested and compared before any decision is taken.
- OR is the science of better because it allows decision makers to identify better or optimal solutions to their problems. And because there is a scientific
basis to the method, it gives the decision maker a greater understanding of the margin by which one or more of the possible solutions is indeed "better".
OR can provide insight and support to decision making in areas such as:
- Complex or difficult decisions, with conflicting objectives
- Uncertain problems, where it is not immediately clear as to what the problem actually consists of
- Identification of potential outcomes when possible solutions have been identified
- Process improvement, through modelling business processes and quantifying the outomes of alternative processes
- Understanding risks and their potential impacts on the business
OR is usually carried out by an OR consultant who supports the decision makers to help them understand the problem, the way the
business works, and how different ways of working might lead to different outcomes. The OR consultant doesn't take the decisions; the OR consultant helps to inform the