An operations research analyst studies the operational structures of different businesses and analyzes their efficiency. His analysis techniques for each situation are unique, as no two operations are the same. The most common techniques used by an analyst in this profession involve computer programming, scientific processes, and mathematics and engineering applications.
Many industries use the skills of an operations research analyst to improve their productivity, with the goal of increasing revenues. Industries in the private sector most inclined to employ this type of analyst involve traffic control systems, telecommunications networks and factories. Military and government agencies also regularly use operations research analysts to enhance productivity and reduce costs. In recent years, insurance and banking firms have turned to these analysts to improve the performance of their companies as well.
An operations research analyst begins a project by isolating the cause of the problem. He collects information and asks pertinent questions before proceeding to develop a model to generate solutions. This is often done by entering the information into a computer program that produces several solutions along with the pros and cons of each method of resolution.
These solutions normally address key areas, such as efficient use of space, equipment and personnel. Other areas the analyst examines for efficiency can include production and manufacturing processes. These experts also will work with such clients as sports teams to set schedules or with grocery markets to help decide the best placement for products and displays.
Sometimes, a lack of cohesiveness in management objectives can contribute to a company's financial losses. An operations research analyst can study the goals of individual managers within an organization and determine if their goals are overlapping or in conflict with one another. If he finds this to be true, he uses his expertise to suggest solutions to eliminate the discord, improve the company’s overall operations and increase profits.
The job of an operations research analyst is often more complicated than analyzing and improving management procedures. He often is required to adjust his computer model to ensure it analyzes all aspects of the situation to produce the most accurate solution options. In cases where the amount of data needed for analysis is insufficient, he may develop experimental models and environments to conduct his research. All scenarios normally require him to prepare reports for management suggesting solutions to the problem.
A master’s degree in operations research or a related field is usually preferred for this position. An undergraduate bachelor’s degree in economics, mathematics or engineering is generally the minimum requirement. Highly-developed computer and data analysis skills are considered strong assets for an aspiring operations research analyst.