INTRODUCTION TO OPERATIONS RESEARCH – PREVIOUS YEAR QUESTIONS GNDU
Define Operations research, its features and limitations?
Operations research is the application of scientific method to problem arising from operation involving integrated system of men, machine and material. It normally utilises the knowledge and skills of an inter-disciplinary research team to provide the management of such system with optimum operating solution.
ACCORDING TO HM WAGNER
“Operations Research is a scientific approach to problem solving for execution management.”
ACCORDING TO THOMAS L SATTY
“Operations research is the art of giving bad answers to problems to which, otherwise worst answers are given.”
Thus, Operations research is the application of modern methods of mathematical science to complex problems involving management of large system of man, machines and money in industry, business, government and defence.
FEATURES/ CHARACTERISTICS/ NATURE OF OPERATIONS RESEARCH
System Orientation: Operations research is a system oriented scientific approach. It studies the problem as a whole and provides the solution that is to be applied on whole system or organisation. But in real world, the one thing optimum for one department may not be optimum for another department. So while deriving at the solution, one must take into account all possible interactions of all the departments.
Inter-disciplinary Team approach: According to Ackoff and Saieni “Operations research is the application of scientific method by inter-disciplinary team’s problems involving the control of organised system as to provide solutions which best serve the purpose of the organisation as a whole.”
So, Operations research is inter-disciplinary in approach. It requires the knowledge of allied discipline like statistics, engineering, economics, management, computer science and so on. Operations research’s team brings the latest scientific know how to analyse the problems and helps in providing better results.
Scientific Approach: According to morse and Kimball, “Operations Research is a scientific method of providing executive departments with a quantitative basis for decisions regarding the operations under their control.”
So, operations research is a proper scientific approach to solve the complex business problems. The scientific methods in Operations Research consists of three phases:
Judgement Phase: This phase consists of:
- Determination of operations
- Establishment of objective and values related to the business.
- Determination of the suitable measures of effectiveness.
- Formulation of the problems relative to the objectives.
Research Phase: This phase utilises:
- Operations and data collection for a better understanding of the problem.
- Formulation of hypothesis and model.
- Observation and experimentation to test the hypothesis of the available information and verification of the hypothesis using pre-established measure of effectiveness.
- Prediction of various results from the hypothesis.
- Generalisation of the various results and consideration of alternative methods.
Action Phase: It consists of making recommendations for the decision process by those who first posed the problem for consideration or by anyone in a position to make a decision influencing the operation in which the problems occurred.
Decision Making: Operations Research is an optimal decision-making science which helps the management to make better decisions in time. Decision making can be improved and in fact the headache of management can be cured by using the scientific methods of the Operations research to take the decisions. The main features of all decisions are:
The objective should be clear and un-ambiguous. This helps to take proper decisions. Next, various possible alternatives should be studied along with the constraints imposed on each alternative. The scientific operation research methods helps to take best possible action.
Use of Computer: Operation research often requires a computer to solve the complex mathematical model or to perform large number of computations that are involved.
Use of a digital computer has become an integral part of the Operations Research approach to decision-making.
Objectives: The goals or objectives of the organisation provides a base to the future course of action. Operations research attempts to find out the best and optimal solution to the problem on the basis of the objectives set. The proper analysis of objectives helps in deciding the best alternatives.
Quantitative Solution: According to EL Arnoff and MJ Netzong, “ Operations Research is the systematic method oriented study of the basis structure, characteristics, functions and relationships of the organization decision making to provide the executive with sound, scientific and quantitative basis for decision making.
The above definition clearly states that the solutions derived by applying the Operations methods and techniques are quantitative in nature as all the techniques applied are mathematical.
Operations research attempts to provide a systematic and rational approach for quantitative solutions to the various managerial problems.
LIMITATIONS OF OPERATIONS RESEARCH
- Magnitude of computations: The aim of Operations research is to find out optimal solution taking into consideration all the factors. In this modern world, these factors are enormous and expressing them in the quantitative model and establishing relationships among these requires voluminous calculations which can be handled only by machines.
- Non-quantifiable factors: When all the factors related to a problem can be quantifiable only then Operations research provides solution otherwise not. The non-quantifiable factors are not incorporated in Operation research models importantly. OR models do not take into account emotional factors or qualitative factors.
- Distance between Operations research specialist and manager: Operations research’s job needs a mathematician or statistician who might not be aware of the business problems. Similarly, a manager is unable to understand the complex nature of the operations research. Thus there is big gap between the two personnel.
- Expensive: Operations research is very costly. This is because operations research makes mathematical models for taking decision and solving problems, The company has to make various models for solving different problems. All this increases the cost.
- Implementation: Once the decision has been taken, it should be implemented. The implementation of decisions is a delicate task. This task must be taken into account the complexities of human relations and behaviour and in sometimes only the psychological factors.
- Selection of technique: Operations research techniques are very useful but they cannot be used indiscriminately choice of technique depends upon the nature of the problem, operating conditions, assumptions, and objectives etc. thus, identification and use of appropriate technique is essential.
- Not a substitute of management: OR only provides the tolls and cannot be a substitute of management. It only examines the results of alternative course of action and final decision is made by management within the authority and judgement.
- Sub-Optimisation: Sub-optimisation is deciding in respect of relatively narrow aspect of the whole business situation or optimisation of sub-section of the whole. Functional heads, sometimes without taking care of wider implications, sub-optimise their functions. This may cause loss in that part of the organisation which is left out of the exercise and as such should be avoided.
- Non-realistic: Operations research experts make very complex models for solving the problems. These models may not be realistic. Hence, they may not be useful for real life situations.