From education to employment

Operational research specialist



K1: How to select and apply, a range of problem structuring methods to understand complex problems. Back to Duty

K2: How to establish and scope client requirements into clear analytical questions. Back to Duty

K3: The comparative strengths and weaknesses of informal and formal methods used to structure problems. Back to Duty

K4: The approaches used to identify and obtain potentially useful data (including their provenance, scope and limitations). Back to Duty

K5: How to manipulate, interrogate and manage raw data. Back to Duty

K6: How to conduct exploratory data analysis. This includes identifying relationships, robustness and quality, covering both model generated data and external information sources. Back to Duty

K7: The range of potential Operational Research techniques & methods, their strengths and weaknesses and how they are used in practice. This includes, optimisation, machine learning, scheduling, forecasting, simulation, decision analysis, inventory models, Markov models, dynamic programming, performance measurement (such as KPIs, metrics and benefits), heuristics and statistical methods. Back to Duty

K8: Operational Research software solutions (packaged and “in-house” developed) and their comparative strengths and weaknesses in analysing client operational research problems. Back to Duty

K9: How to create spreadsheets and code in at least one programming language to develop models and carry out analysis. Back to Duty

K10: The role of the Operational Research team within their own organisation. Back to Duty

K11: The wider political, business and social context and how these external factors might affect their clients and analysis. Back to Duty

K12: The principles of Organisation theory. This includes how organisations work, change and behave. And how this impacts Operational Research practice, modelling and the uptake of findings. Back to Duty

K13: Ethical principles and processes that relate to Operational Research and how to ensure compliance. Back to Duty

K14: How regulatory frameworks, commercial and contract management collectively impact the practice of Operational Research. Back to Duty

K15: How Data Protection legislation is implemented across own and client organisation Back to Duty

K16: The importance and value of using expertise from your own internal/external networks when considering an Operational Research question. Back to Duty

K17: The techniques for managing client relationships from project initiation to closure. Back to Duty

K18: Project management principles and techniques; including people, risk, financial controls and budgets. Back to Duty

K19: How to translate information, insights and recommendations into client focused reports and presentations. Back to Duty

K20: How Operational Research has evolved and its impact on society. Back to Duty

K21: Techniques for managing and appraising your own personal and professional development. Back to Duty

K22: Techniques for supporting colleagues in their professional development through provision of feedback. Back to Duty

K23: The concepts of team dynamics and its relevancy to solving Operational Research problems. How to use this to create, lead and manage high performing and collaborative teams. Back to Duty

K24: The principles and techniques of quality assurance. This includes model structure and clarity, validation & verification, recording data sources, assumptions and documentation. Back to Duty

K25: How to balance actions and benefits that meet client needs with policy, legal, codes of practice and funding requirements. Back to Duty


S1: Structure a client’s problem using a relevant informal or formal methodology. Back to Duty

S2: Conceptualise complex client problems into tractable operational research questions. Back to Duty

S3: Critically evaluate and synthesise data relevant to the client problem (including data provenance, scope and limitations). Back to Duty

S4: Manipulates, interrogate and manage raw data, using relevant methodology. Back to Duty

S5: Undertake exploratory data analysis. This includes identifying relationships, robustness and quality, covering both model generated data and external information sources. Back to Duty

S6: Exercise judgement by selecting the appropriate technique to design an approach to a client’s problem. Back to Duty

S7: Use relevant software solutions to support the analysis of a client’s problem. Back to Duty

S8: Creates a model to analyse a problem; applies an appropriate approach including programming, scripting, coding or using spreadsheets. Back to Duty

S9: Critically analyse the internal and external factors relevant to an Operational Research problem to determine a holistic approach. These factors include organisational structures, the political, business and social context. Back to Duty

S10: Apply holistic approaches to an Operational Research problem, taking into consideration internal and external factors. Back to Duty

S11: Recommend compliant solutions that address the client’s problem. Back to Duty

S12: Source and use relevant internal/external technical expertise necessary to address the client’s problem. Back to Duty

S13: Use appropriate methodologies to manage complex client relationships. Back to Duty

S14: Strategically manage all variables necessary to deliver timebound Operational Research recommendations. This includes, but is not limited to, people, risk, financial controls and budgets. Back to Duty

S15: Exercise judgement to deliver persuasive arguments that are objective and unbiased. Back to Duty

S16: Translate complex landscapes into client focused communications that balance rationale for recommendations with project limitations & compliance. Back to Duty

S17: Critically evaluate & address own developmental needs. Back to Duty

S18: Apply judgement to provide relevant and timely feedback when supporting colleagues’ development. Back to Duty

S19: Use concepts of team dynamics to create, lead and manage high performing and collaborative teams. Back to Duty

S20: Operate autonomously within the limits of own authority and responsibility. Back to Duty

S21: Design and implement strategic approaches that motivates team members to achieve objectives. Back to Duty

S22: Exercise judgement in managing and using data in accordance with relevant legislation, organisational principles and governance. Back to Duty

S23: Validate quality by application of relevant quality assurance methodology. Back to Duty


B1: Adapts approach to meet client needs, whilst avoiding over-attachment to pre-determined or expected outcomes. Back to Duty

B2: Actively utilises diverse networks to enhance Operational research outcomes. Back to Duty

B3: Overcomes challenges and perseveres in order to deliver on time. Back to Duty

B4: Delivers client centric outcomes. Back to Duty

B5: Seeks out the latest Operational Research techniques in order to address client problems effectively. Back to Duty

B6: Adopts an analytical mindset to the client’s problem. Back to Duty

B7: Seeks out proportionate and pragmatic response to client issues. Back to Duty

B8: Acts ethically and challenges unethical evidence/practice. Back to Duty

Related Articles