Agile Operational Research


As project management has become a critical subject in modern-world organisations, Operational Research (OR) needs to incorporate mechanisms to deal with rapid, unplanned changes as well as confusing information and stakeholders with conflicting values. Agile methods are widely used and tested in Software Engineering (SE) to deal with problems of the characteristics above. Because of this, after establishing that both OR interventions, as well as SE developments, have common stages and information evolution, this proposal aims to pose the challenge of applying agility to manage OR projects. Guidelines to adapt Agile Methodologies to OR are proposed, and a case vignette is studied as an initial test. Finally, future lines of work are considered to define how the larger project in which this proposal is embedded will continue.

In Journal of Operational Research Society, pp1221-1235. Vol 72(6).


This article analyses the use of SE agility for OR interventions. For this purpose, the characteristics of the main stages of an OR intervention are identified together with the information managed at each stage. This evidences a match between OR interventions and agile lifecycles stages, showing that agility can be applied to project management in OR. This is further elaborated in three-step guidelines, which include selecting a methodology, organising a project, and representing the information in artefacts. Finally, a case study vignette supports the viability of this approach.


The authors gratefully acknowledge the anonymous reviewers whose comments and suggestions helped improve and clarify this manuscript. Furthermore, authors are especially thankful to Prof Richard Ormerod for his contributions and insight.


author = {Melina Vidoni and Laura Cunico and Aldo Vecchietti},
title = {Agile operational research},
journal = {Journal of the Operational Research Society},
volume = {72},
number = {6},
pages = {1221-1235},
year  = {2021},
publisher = {Taylor & Francis},
doi = {10.1080/01605682.2020.1718557},
URL = {},
eprint = {}

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