Operations Research approach of problem solving
Optimization is the act of obtaining the best result under any given circumstance. In various practical problems we may have to take many technical or managerial decisions at several stages. The ultimate goal of all such decisions is to either maximize the desired benefit or minimize the effort required. We make decisions in our every day life without even noticing them. Decision-making is one of the main activity of a manager or executive. In simple situations decisions are taken simply by common sense, sound judgment and expertise without using any mathematics. But here the decisions we are concerned with are rather complex and heavily loaded with responsibility. Examples of such decision are finding the appropriate product mix when there are large numbers of products with different profit contributions and production requirement or planning public transportation network in a town having its own layout of factories, apartments, blocks etc. Certainly in such situations also decision may be arrived at intuitively from experience and common sense, yet they are more judicious if backed up by mathematical reasoning. The search of a decision may also be done by trial and error but such a search may be cumbersome and costly. Preparative calculations may avoid long and costly research. Doing preparative calculations is the purpose of Operations research. Operations research does mathematical scoring of consequences of a decision with the aim of optimizing the use of time, efforts and resources and avoiding blunders.
The application of Operations research methods helps in making decisions in such complicated situations. Evidently the main objective of Operations research is to provide a scientific basis to the decision-makers for solving the problems involving the interaction of various components of organization, by employing a team of scientists from different disciplines, all working together for finding a solution which is the best in the interest of the organization as a whole.
The solution thus obtained is known as optimal decision. The main features of Operations Research are:
- It is System oriented: Operations Research studies the problem from over all points of view of organizations or situations since optimum result of one part of the system may not be optimum for some other part.
- It imbibes Inter-disciplinary team approach. Since no single individual can have a thorough knowledge of all fast developing scientific know-how, personalities from different scientific and managerial cadre form a team to solve the problem.
- It makes use of Scientific methods to solve problems.
- OR increases the effectiveness of a management Decision making ability.
- It makes use of computer to solve large and complex problems.
- It gives Quantitative solution.
- It considers the human factors also.
The first and the most important requirement is that the root problem should be identified and understood. The problem should be identified properly, this indicates three major aspects:
- A description of the goal or the objective of the study,
- An identification of the decision alternative to the system, and
- A recognition of the limitations, restrictions and requirements of the system.
Limitations of Operations Research:
- The limitations are more related to the problems of model building, time and money factors.
- Magnitude of computation: Modern problem involve large number of variables and hence to find interrelationship, among makes it difficult.
- Non-quantitative factors and Human emotional factor cannot be taken into account.
- There is a wide gap between the managers and the operation researches.
- Time and Money factors when the basic data is subjected to frequent changes then incorporation of them into OR models are a costly affair.
- Implementation of decisions involves human relations and behavior.