Overview of the role

Help clients (either internally or externally) to make strategic, tactical and operational decisions.

Details of standard

Occupation summary

This occupation is found in organisations of all sizes, including businesses across all industry sectors, government and other public sector bodies. These sectors include but are not limited to: Engineering, Government, Banking, Health, Telecommunications, Defence, Management Consulting, Transport, and Education. The broad purpose of the occupation is to help clients (either internally or externally) to make strategic, tactical and operational decisions by using advanced analytical methods to understand and solve complex non-routine problems. The benefits of Operational Research include a wide range of performance improvements such as reducing costs, increasing revenue, saving lives, raising levels of customer service and designing public policy.

Operational Research Specialists work with their clients and other interested parties to provide an end to end service from diagnosing and analysing a problem to making recommendations for change and supporting implementation.

Typically, Operational Research Specialists will structure complex non-routine problems and formulate specific research questions. They will address these questions by evaluating and implementing approaches from the range of existing models, methods and techniques, developing and adapting these methods and adopting methods from other fields where existing approaches are insufficient. In their daily work, an employee in this occupation interacts with their team, operational and policy experts and managers in the systems and processes they are analysing. They also interact with senior stakeholders (where relevant) and other specialists such as economists, data scientists, social scientists, management and financial accountants and data and information providers. In addition, they will interact with groups and organisations such as communities of practice, local and central governments, businesses, regulators, academics, researchers and non-technical audiences, both nationally and internationally.

An Operational Research Specialist will work independently or collaboratively as required, reporting to internal or external clients at almost any level of an organisation. A typical day may include overseeing and conducting analysis, meeting clients, managing projects, leading teams and commissioning work from others. An employee in this occupation will be responsible for understanding and resolving a complex non-routine problem to meet their clients’ requirements. The Operational Research Specialist has a high degree of autonomy and accountability for their work. They are unlikely to have detailed subject matter expertise. Therefore, they will collaborate with specialists and experts to understand the organisation, its systems and processes. Following this, they will select appropriate Operational Research method(s), identify & obtain data, carry out rigorous analysis, quality assuring their & others’ work. A key part of their role is communicating their impartial, pragmatic analysis and recommendations with impact, together with its limitations and associated risks. In some cases, they will support the implementation of their recommendations and monitor their effectiveness.

An Operational Research Specialist will plan and manage their projects and may also commission research, manage budgets, supervise staff and contractors, and identify opportunities where Operational Research can help.

Typical job titles include:

Analytics specialist Decision support analyst Management scientist Modeller Operational analyst Operational research analyst Operational research consultant Operational researcher

Occupation duties

Duty KSBs

Duty 1 Work with clients to understand a problem and capture their requirements; translating complex, non-routine, real-life customer and business problems into a clear structure and formulating specific questions that can be tackled through analysis of available data and modelling.

K1 K2 K3 K4 K5 K6 K7 K10 K11 K12 K13 K14 K15 K16 K17 K18 K20

S1 S2 S3 S4 S5 S6 S7

B1 B2 B4 B6 B7

Duty 2 Use formal and informal methods (with their clients, subject matter experts, other interested parties) to understand the organisations’ systems and processes.

K1 K2 K3 K4 K5 K6 K13 K14 K15 K16 K17 K18 K19 K25

S1 S2 S3 S4 S5 S6 S7 S13 S14

B1 B2 B4 B6 B7

Duty 3 Relate their understanding of a client problem and organisational context to a set of Operational Research problem archetypes and select appropriate Operational Research methods.

K1 K2 K3 K4 K5 K6 K7 K10 K11 K12 K13 K14 K15 K16 K17 K18 K19 K20 K25

S1 S2 S3 S4 S5 S6 S7 S12 S13 S14 S19 S21

B1 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8

Duty 4 Carry out analysis using a range of Operational Research methods, adapting and developing them to meet client needs whilst understanding their limitations.

K1 K2 K3 K4 K5 K6 K7 K9 K13 K14 K15 K17 K18 K19 K22 K23 K25

S8 S9 S10 S12 S15 S16 S18 S23

B1 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8

Duty 5 Identify what data is available to help solve a problem and how to acquire it and manipulate it, applying appropriate data protection principles.

K4 K5 K6 K7 K8 K9 K13 K14 K15

S3 S4 S5 S8 S9 S10 S13 S14 S23

B2 B5 B6

Duty 6 Develop and implement methods to quality assure their work and others’ analyses.

K1 K2 K3 K7 K8 K10 K11 K12 K19 K22 K23 K24 K25

S6 S7 S8 S9 S10

B3 B5 B7

Duty 7 Communicate their analysis and recommendations with impact to their clients, specialist and non-specialist audiences to help them make decisions; including the strengths and limitations of the analysis and underlying data.

K1 K2 K3 K7 K8 K10 K11 K12 K19 K24 K25

S1 S2 S6 S7 S11 S12 S16 S17 S18 S23

B1 B2 B6 B7 B8

Duty 8 Manage operational research projects, budgets and staff.

K17 K18 K21 K24

S15 S18 S23

B1 B2 B4 B6

Duty 9 Develop professional capability by tracking developments in the field of Operational Research and improve their managerial, networking and leadership skills.

K16 K21

S19 S20 S21 S22

B1 B5 B6

Duty 10 Identify new opportunities for applying Operational Research techniques for their organisation or clients and disseminate and share best practice inside and outside of their organisation.

K10 K11 K12 K13 K14 K15 K20

S11 S12




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


English and Maths

Apprentices without level 2 English and maths will need to achieve this level prior to taking the End-Point Assessment. For those with an education, health and care plan or a legacy statement, the apprenticeship’s English and maths minimum requirement is Entry Level 3. A British Sign Language (BSL) qualification is an alternative to the English qualification for those whose primary language is BSL.

Additional details

Occupational Level:


Duration (months):



This apprenticeship standard will be reviewed after three years

Status: Approved for delivery
Level: 7
Degree: non-degree qualification
Reference: ST0884
Version: 1.0
Date updated: 28/10/2021
Approved for delivery: 24 August 2020
Route: Business and administration
Typical duration to gateway: 24 months (this does not include EPA period)
Maximum funding: £14000
LARS Code: 600

Find an apprenticeship

Contact us about this apprenticeship

Employers involved in creating the standard: Dept for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Atkins Global, Royal Bank of Scotland, London Ambulance Service, BT, Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, Saker Solutions, HSBC, Optrak, Operational Research Society – Education Committee

Version log

Version Change detail Earliest start date Latest start date Latest end date
1.0 Approved for delivery 24/08/2020 Not set Not set

Crown copyright © 2024. You may re-use this information (not including logos) free of charge in any format or medium, under the terms of the Open Government Licence. Visit www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence

Is this page useful?

Tell us about your visit

Help us improve our website