Optimization is the process of finding an outcome that is the most cost-effective, given the constraints to which an organization is subjected. An optimized outcome may vary over time as more information becomes available or the constraints change. For example, a store checkout process may initially be optimized by using manual labor, if the cost of labor is quite low. As the cost of labor rises, optimization of the process may dictate that a self check-out process is now more cost-effective.
In operations research, linear programming is commonly used to determine the most optimal solution.