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Optimizing Call Center Staffing Using Simulation and Analytic Center Cutting-Plane Methods

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Author Info

  • Júlíus Atlason

    ()
    (THOR Development and Research, Reykjavík, Iceland)

  • Marina A. Epelman

    ()
    (Department of Industrial and Operations Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109)

  • Shane G. Henderson

    ()
    (School of Operations Research and Information Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853)

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    Abstract

    We consider the problem of minimizing staffing costs in an inbound call center, while maintaining an acceptable level of service in multiple time periods. The problem is complicated by the fact that staffing level in one time period can affect the service levels in subsequent periods. Moreover, staff schedules typically take the form of shifts covering several periods. Interactions between staffing levels in different time periods, as well as the impact of shift requirements on the staffing levels and cost, should be considered in the planning. Traditional staffing methods based on stationary queueing formulas do not take this into account. We present a simulation-based analytic center cutting-plane method to solve a sample average approximation of the problem. We establish convergence of the method when the service-level functions are discrete pseudoconcave. An extensive numerical study of a moderately large call center shows that the method is robust and, in most of the test cases, outperforms traditional staffing heuristics that are based on analytical queueing methods.

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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.1070.0774
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by INFORMS in its journal Management Science.

    Volume (Year): 54 (2008)
    Issue (Month): 2 (February)
    Pages: 295-309

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    Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:54:y:2008:i:2:p:295-309

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    Related research

    Keywords: simulation optimization; call centers; analytic center cutting-plane method;

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    Cited by:
    1. Van den Bergh, Jorne & Beliën, Jeroen & De Bruecker, Philippe & Demeulemeester, Erik & De Boeck, Liesje, 2013. "Personnel scheduling: A literature review," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 226(3), pages 367-385.
    2. Kleijnen, J.P.C. & Beers, W.C.M. van & Nieuwenhuyse, I. van, 2008. "Constrained Optimization in Simulation: A Novel Approach," Discussion Paper 2008-95, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    3. Onggo, S. & Pidd, M. & Soopramanien, D. & Worthington, D.J., 2012. "Behavioural modelling of career progression in the European Commission," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 222(3), pages 632-641.
    4. Örmeci, E. Lerzan & Salman, F. Sibel & Yücel, Eda, 2014. "Staff rostering in call centers providing employee transportation," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 41-53.
    5. Tsai, Shing Chih & Zheng, Ya-Xin, 2013. "A simulation optimization approach for a two-echelon inventory system with service level constraints," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 229(2), pages 364-374.

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