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Operational researchers use mathematical, business, analytical and creative skills, along with general manufacturing industry knowledge, to help businesses solve 'problems' they are having. Problems can be wide ranging but in recent years, operational managers have mainly been concerned with cutting down on unnecessary expenditure without sacrificing quality or sales. The general responsibility of operational managers is to devise and implement strategies which ensure that organisations run cost effectively; that they spend as little as possible and get the most out of all the resources they use.
Operational researchers are employed to help companies. They are usually hired by senior management who cannot solve the problems themselves. As objective, uninvolved individuals, they aim to help organisations make better decisions, save or make money and will liaise with staff to get the most out of them. The work can be extremely varied depending on the organisations an operational manager is employed by.
Operations researchers can be found working in:
Some larger companies have their own permanent operational researchers to ensure business is always running in a way that senior management want it to. They can also be called in on short notice to help companies in crisis. They must communicate with all members of staff regardless of seniority, in order to make changes that are not only more likely to succeed, but that have the views of all staff members included.
Operational researchers must understand the business, its current state and its goals. They interview staff and study accounts and reports produced by the company in order to analyse the results of what they hear and find. Once they have highlighted areas to improve upon they will devise the best strategies to put changes into practice and test their suggestions. Finally they report their findings and make their recommendations.