Five questions to identify mathematical optimization potential in your company

Here at OPTANO we manage many customer projects each year. And even though each industry has its own special features, there are still similarities. When we are called in for projects we usually ask five questions to assess the potential for mathematical optimization. We have compiled these for you below, added a little background information and demonstrated the advantages of mathematical optimization in this context.

Do you repeatedly hold lengthy debates on strategic decisions and operational issues?

A common feature of complex processes lies in the different objectives of the people and departments involved. These even tend to compete with each other often: cost efficiency with process reliability, flexibility with continuous process flow, etc. These factors make planning complex and often trigger discussions about how to correctly prioritize individual objectives.

Mathematical optimization is ideally suited to harmonizing goals and adjusting your planning accordingly.

Are there under-utilized areas or bottlenecks in your company?

The more cross-dependencies there are in a process, the more fatal the effect of both factors becomes. Unnecessary waiting time costs money, but also motivation among employees. On the other hand, there is constant high pressure in the area of the bottlenecks – often the trigger for under-utilized subsequent stations. This increases the error rate there and the vicious circle is in full swing.

With the help of mathematical optimization, you systematically avoid bottlenecks and ensure a harmonious process flow that also contributes optimally to your goals.

Do you have difficulty in finding KPIs that reflect your strategic goals and operational situation?

The question of the right KPIs is closely linked to the question of the right goals and their relationship to each other. If you find it difficult to set appropriate KPIs, the reason often lies in a vague formulation of objectives. Another factor is the lack of suitable measurement data. If this is not available in a comprehensive, permanent and up-to-date manner, your KPIs are not meaningful.

Based on this experience, we start every project with a workshop in which we work out the target definition with all those involved, derive KPIs from the targets and define or create the necessary database. Only then does OPTANO begin the actual optimization work.

Is unnecessary time invested in repeated planning because requirements are constantly changing?

Processes with many cross dependencies are particularly susceptible to changes or process disruptions. It is not uncommon to have to recommence the entire planning in the event of just a single parameter change. This is not only time-consuming but also puts a lot of pressure on the planning department.  The worst case scenario can be a reduction in planning quality.

With the help of mathematical optimization, you can react flexibly to any process disruptions. Not only that, you can also be sure that the new plan is optimally suited to your objectives.

Can you say with certainty when a plan is optimal?

Even the most experienced planners cannot say with 100% certainty that the plan they have drawn up really does meet the desired optimum. The number of possible solutions is simply too large for this. So there is always the possibility that there is a better solution. Manual planning, however, comes up against its natural limits. It is theoretically possible to improve a plan manually but, at some point, the time required and the benefit are no longer in a healthy relationship.

With a mathematically optimized plan, you can always be sure that it is optimal with regard to your goals.

These are the five questions we use to assess the potential for mathematical optimization. Did you recognize your company  in some places? If so, rest assured that you are not alone with your questions. There are many companies that deal with similar issues.

If you feel that OPTANO could be of help to you, please do not hesitate to contact us. Our consultants will be happy to assist you at any time with advice and support. Simply call us on (+49) 5251-682200 or at