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Operational Research, Workshops and Events

Pro Bono Week 2019: Better Insight, Better Decisions, Better Delivery

To mark Pro Bono Week 2019, I helped facilitate a half-day workshop in London with the OR Society’s Pro Bono Steering Group. The theme for the morning was “Better Insight, Better Decisions, Better Delivery”.

We welcomed a diverse group of participants from large and small charities, working in the UK and internationally.

Ruth Kaufman kicked off the workshop by explaining what OR is and quickly got her message home with examples of the range of problems our pool of volunteers can address. These include “soft” approaches to support strategy development and “hard” approaches for data analysis and process modelling.

Amy Hughes, PBOR Project Manager, focused on what the PBOR scheme is and how charities can sign-up for our support.

CAF PBORThe session then moved to a couple of case studies. Firstly, I put my “Trustee hat” on and spoke about my experience of applying OR to 3 canine health and welfare projects. My main case study was a stocks and flows modelling project carried out by a team of volunteers from DECC for the RSPCA to understand the UK dog population.

The second case study was presented by PBOR Steering Group member, Jane Parkin. She discussed a simulation project carried out for Crimestoppers, looking at their contact centre. The project identified ways to improve shift patterns that improved service levels from 90% to 94% and reduced abandoned calls from 12% to 6%. Quote of the morning goes to Jane for “I love simulation because it can show sad faces going in and smiley faces coming out”.

The attendees then spent 45 minutes with PBOR representatives discussing potential projects in their organisations which they felt could benefit from an OR volunteer’s support. Examples from my group included how to align multiple stakeholders working on youth crime and knife crime; how to establish a measurement framework to enable impact reporting to funders; and how to create a Theory of Change to identify which interventions made the biggest impact on children’s education.

I would like to thank Kate Hammond and CAF for being such generous hosts by providing the venue and refreshments.

Find out more about Pro Bono OR.

Find out how I can help your charity with performance improvement.

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