Norca Consulting was formed in 2000 by a group of OR and Statistical Practitioners to address the need for a coordinated approach to the marketing of leading edge, high quality Mathematical, Statistical and Operations Research expertise. Norca has been formed as a network of collaborating individuals who can provide an extremely flexible approach to data analysis and modelling, and also to facilitate the synergies of a group of people with similar but complementary quantitative skills and experience.
The aim in establishing NORCA Consulting was to create a quality consultancy with a smooth work flow based on long term relationships. This will enable us to better deploy our key strengths in problem identification and structuring, to the mutual benefit of ourselves and our clients.
Our philosophy is the provision of an expert modelling service combining deliverable outcomes to clients with a focus on skills transfer. We provide value to companies wanting to avoid the overhead of specialist internal consultants, but wishing, nevertheless, to build and sustain analytical and business modelling skills within their business. NORCA realises this can best be achieved by helping clients’ operating units to do things better themselves. Our approach is the result of a conscious plan, devised to deliver a marketable service based on the skills of our people.
NORCA Consulting Pty. Ltd brings our analytical skills and experience to management, to facilitate the process of superior business decisions in Australia and beyond.
NORCA Consulting Pty. Ltd is to work with all levels of management to support their decision making processes, through creative problem structuring data driven modelling and pro-active implementation.
In all our dealings, NORCA will:
· Respect and value our clients.
· Treat Staff and Associates as our greatest asset.
· Endeavour to obtain the best expertise for specific tasks.
· Act with integrity and honesty in all business dealings.
· Respect client confidentiality at all times.
· Maintain the integrity of problem solving processes and outcomes.
· Respect and utilise experience.
· Adhere to HS&E principles.
· Abide by the Laws of the Land.
· Respect Governments at all levels.
To create the long-term value in the business
Develop and provide services which offer value in terms of price and quality, supported by the appropriate technological professional and commercial expertise and a high level of customer service.
To provide all personnel and outside consultants with good safe working conditions, training and development opportunities, suitable compensation and leisure time.
To conduct business as a responsible business operating in the community, observing both Federal and State laws and giving due regard to health, safety and environmental standards and societal aspirations.
The NORCA structure and mode of operation have been consciously designed to maximise the delivered value from the following unique characteristics:
· A select group with a wide range of experience that can cater for a diverse range of clients and types of technical work
· A group of specialists with over 130 years of collective experience in OR methodology and service delivery
· A structure which retains the cost advantage and personal service of an independent consultant with the back-up of a larger group
· A dedicated core group supplemented by a wide support network of experienced specialist practitioners
· Strong links with universities which provide access to world class experts in particular fields
· Structured to quickly react to client needs
· Focus on mentoring of client staff
· Emphasis on skills transfer to client staff
We provide an independent customer focused service, taking into account the social, cultural and environmental issues of an enterprise. This is where an Operations Research orientated management consultancy comes into its own. Our personnel have a wide range of business experience and our links with tertiary institutions & academic research centres provide a strong backup capability.
It is very easy to fall into the trap of defining performance as a wish list of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), with only a cursory review of their inherent trade-offs. Performance is a complex, multi-faceted activity where day-to-day trade-offs are inevitable. It is important that a resolution to a problem does not bias the day-to-day decisions / behaviour to the achievement of a single KPI, e.g., minimise costs without regard to the other KPIs. By structuring the set of inputs of business or social units against the set of desirable outputs, it is possible to arrive at decisions that provide the best balanced outcome for customers, employees and shareholders.
“Another trap is that for large spreadsheets the issue is how many errors there are, not whether an error exists.” Good model design can help avoid these problems and the best way to start is by auditing existing spreadsheet models - and also the wider management decision processes surrounding the models. NORCA Consulting is well qualified to audit corporate spreadsheet models and decision processes.
We use a staged approach to propose, develop and implement effective management decision aids. The core approach is to use the discipline of model building from a scientific standpoint in an Operations Research framework. Extensive use is made of data analysis and mathematical formulations to create specific purpose models, whose greatest utility occur in complex, highly variable situations where problem structuring becomes an issue.
The stages of a OR consultancy may involve:
· an audit review of existing models and/or business decision processes.
· development of a proposal for the construction and implementation of a statistical / OR model.
· application of the seven-step OR methodology to the proposed project.
· design and delivery of custom workshops on the use of the model to support business decision processes.
There are many advantages in the use of models to support management decision processes. Properly implemented they can form part of the organisation’s learning and documentation procedure, thus becoming a part of the business knowledge and memory. . Over time, conditions may change or deeper insights may be gained. A well designed model will be relatively easy to modify in the light of additional knowledge.
NORCA Consulting can operate in either of two ways, as determined by the client’s needs and circumstances.
1. A consulting assignment may be focussed on a specific project or need, on a fee for service basis. While this has elements of the role of a traditional management consultant, the added value is greater because of our emphasis on staff mentoring and our follow up offer of a post implementation review.
2. We can operate under our unique External Part-time OR Manager (EPORM) concept where we provide a mentoring service on a retainer basis over a period such as a year. This is a service expressly designed to provide clients with all the benefits of an internal consultancy unit, but without the overheads.
Either way, the following issues have been identified as crucial to our form of operation and what we deliver:
· practicality and viability of all project deliverables
· ownership of recommendations, systems and alterations by all stakeholders
· transfer of skills to client staff as required to sustain the benefits
NORCA Consulting is a body of individuals with a broad range of expertise who hold
similar interests within their wide variety of experiences:
· Dudley Foster has over 30 years experience in Operations Research in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. This experience includes 18 years in industry, 6 years in academia and 8 years as a consultant. A lot of his work is related to business improvement across the interface between Manufacturing and Marketing. He is an expert on financial modelling with a focus on the economic evaluation of investment proposals and the design of generic financial models. He is a Senior Academic Associate with the Graduate School of Business at Victoria University.
· Harry Gielewski has worked in OR / Statistics / Model Building for over 30 years. He has worked on a large variety of projects in Australia and Europe, as an internal and external consultant in numerous business sectors, in government and in Academia. His main areas of interest are in forecasting, TQM, Statistical Process Control, statistical analysis, simulation, decision analysis, education, model building and the use of IT for decision making. He maintains academic links with RMIT, Victoria and Swinburne universities through lecturing and consulting
· Howard Hinds has over 30 years experience as a marketer in the oil industry and network property development business and is a committed user of Operations Research services. Until recently he was National Property Development Manager with 7-Eleven. Prior to this he ran his own property consultancy business, Hindsite Pty. Ltd. Earlier he held various management positions with Shell Australia, being responsible for the control and development of retail outlets, distributor depots and direct Shell sales. He held the position of Chairman’s Representative in Tasmania and was Chairman of the Tasmanian branch of the Australian Institute of Petroleum.
· Paul Lochert has over 35 years of teaching experience in the areas of applied statistics and operations research with a focus on applications in business, computing, engineering and social science. During this time, Paul has carried out a diverse range of consulting assignments for both Government agencies and the private sector. He is currently an Honorary Associate of Monash University where he formerly held the position of Associate Professor. He has also spent time seconded to commercial organizations, including 6 months with Control Data Australia as an internal consultant and 6 months with Shell Australia’s Operations Research Department.
· Kaye E. Marion is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Statistics and OR at RMIT, where she is responsible for programs in operations research, econometrics, time series analysis, forecasting and simulation modelling. Following a period as an industrial chemist, she gained extensive experience in applied statistics and market research at the Gas & Fuel Corporation, BP Aust. Ltd. and BHP Co. Ltd. Since joining RMIT in 1973, her consulting work has covered a wide range of industries and problem areas and she places particular emphasis on the use of graphical techniques to identify relationships and communicate analytical results.
Various levels of additional expertise and support are available to NORCA to meet specific management needs. First, NORCA has a strong outer network of seasoned OR professionals with a wealth of business experience in specific application areas. Where needed, resources can be supplemented through our links with universities. These links include relationships with world class experts in particular fields at universities in Australia and overseas.
This combination of a strong core team, an outer network and university links gives NORCA an unrivalled capacity to provide each client with a team, which really is the best team for the job. This set-up provides NORCA with a distinct advantage over larger organisations with a focus on maximising the utilisation of permanent staff.
v Model auditing
Review of existing model structure
v Data-driven modeling
DEA – Data Envelopment Analysis
Forensic statistical analysis
Statistical Decision Theory
v Pro-active implementation
Mentoring and skills transfer
Post Implementation Review
· Exploration and Production
· Oil Marketing
· Finance & Banking
· Human Resources
· Information & Computing
· Postal Services
· Environmental modelling
Details still to be provided
The External Part-time OR Manager concept is a unique service expressly designed to enable you, the client, to maximise the short and long term value of your expenditure on consulting services. The aim is to capture all the benefits of an internal consultancy without the overheads. To this end, the following issues have been identified as crucial:
· practicality and viability of all project deliverables
· ownership of recommendations, systems and changes by all stakeholders
· transfer of skills to client staff, as required, to sustain the benefits
The core philosophy of the service is the focus on skills transfer. This is of particular value to companies which want to avoid the overhead of specialist internal consultants, but wish, nevertheless, to build and sustain analytical and business modelling skills within their business units. This is achieved by helping clients do things better themselves, rather than doing things for the client.
The usual method of implementing the concept is to set up an agreement with a client to operate for a defined period (say a year) as an External Part-time OR Manager, with a focus on problem definition and mentorship of internal staff. For the duration of the contact:
· the consultant would hold monthly meetings with the client
· there would be an agreed minimum number of billable days (say 12)
· there would be an agreed maximum number of billable days (say 36)
· most of the work would be done by internal staff, but NORCA would provide QA of all project deliverables
· no time would be charged by NORCA over and above the agreed maximum number of consulting days, unless a separate agreement was negotiated.
The EPORM arrangement is designed to maximise both skills transfer and value the client obtains from his expenditure on using consulting services. Other advantages are client ownership of recommendations made and/or systems developed; client access to an independent expert outside the hierarchy of the organisation; plus all the benefits which flow naturally from a long term relationship. In particular, the ongoing relationship reduces the client time spent briefing the consultant on the background to tasks, which are important but don’t amount to more than a few days work. Furthermore, these benefits can be obtained without the overheads associated with an in-house specialist: the minimum annual commitment is only about 5% of the cost of employing a full time staff member with the requisite qualifications and experience.
We do not just walk away at the end of an appointment or project. We provide a self-monitored quality assurance programme, by returning, at an appropriate or agreed time after the completion of our appointment, to review the results, the processes we used and to measure the success of our skills transfer process to our client’s staff. In this way, we hope to stimulate continual improvement in all modes of the service we deliver and to ensure an ongoing benefit to our clients and their staff.
An important point of difference with our consultancy is the ‘staff mentoring’ plan. Depending on the reasons for our appointment, we aim to transfer appropriate skills to the client staff with whom we work and to provide them with an understanding of the operations research methods and techniques we employ. Sometimes this will be for a specific project where counselling may continue well after a project is finished. Other clients may enter into an ongoing arrangement, whereby we act as mentors to staff to grow their skills and counsel them over a number of projects. NORCA places particular emphasis on this mentoring process and skills transfer to our clients’ staff.
 Panko Raymond (1998), What We Know About Spreadsheet Errors.