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Scheduling projects with heterogeneous resources to meet time and quality objectives


  • Tiwari, Vikram
  • Patterson, James H.
  • Mabert, Vincent A.


In service organizations, heterogeneity in workforce skills can lead to variation in end-product/service quality. The multi-mode, resource-constrained, project scheduling problem (MRCPSP), which assumes similar skills among resources in a given resource pool, accounts for differences in quality levels of individuals by assigning different activity durations depending on the skill level used. This approach is often inadequate to model the problem type investigated here. Using typical projects from the customer training division of a large telecommunications company (which motivated this research), a labor assignment problem using a successive work-time concept is formulated and solved using integer programming optimization procedures. The setting represents a multiple-project environment where projects are separate and independent, but require the same renewable resource mix for their completion. The paper demonstrates how the output of the model can be used to identify bottlenecks (or critical resource skills), and also demonstrates how cross-training the appropriately skilled groups or individuals can increase throughput. The approach guides decision-making concerning which workers to cross-train in order to extract the greatest benefits from worker-flexibility.

Suggested Citation

  • Tiwari, Vikram & Patterson, James H. & Mabert, Vincent A., 2009. "Scheduling projects with heterogeneous resources to meet time and quality objectives," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 193(3), pages 780-790, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ejores:v:193:y:2009:i:3:p:780-790

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Edieal J. Pinker & Robert A. Shumsky, 2000. "The Efficiency-Quality Trade-Off of Cross-Trained Workers," Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, INFORMS, vol. 2(1), pages 32-48, July.
    2. Hanne, Thomas & Nickel, Stefan, 2005. "A multiobjective evolutionary algorithm for scheduling and inspection planning in software development projects," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 167(3), pages 663-678, December.
    3. Demeulemeester, Erik L. & Herroelen, Willy S. & Elmaghraby, Salah E., 1996. "Optimal procedures for the discrete time/cost trade-off problem in project networks," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 88(1), pages 50-68, January.
    4. Icmeli-Tukel, Oya & Rom, Walter O., 1997. "Ensuring quality in resource constrained project scheduling," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 103(3), pages 483-496, December.
    5. F. Brian Talbot, 1982. "Resource-Constrained Project Scheduling with Time-Resource Tradeoffs: The Nonpreemptive Case," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 28(10), pages 1197-1210, October.
    6. Gerard M. Campbell, 1999. "Cross-Utilization of Workers Whose Capabilities Differ," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 45(5), pages 722-732, May.
    7. George L. Vairaktarakis, 2003. "The Value of Resource Flexibility in the Resource-Constrained Job Assignment Problem," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 49(6), pages 718-732, June.
    8. Sprecher, Arno & Drexl, Andreas, 1998. "Multi-mode resource-constrained project scheduling by a simple, general and powerful sequencing algorithm," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 107(2), pages 431-450, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hartmann, Sönke & Briskorn, Dirk, 2010. "A survey of variants and extensions of the resource-constrained project scheduling problem," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 207(1), pages 1-14, November.
    2. Kellenbrink, Carolin & Helber, Stefan, 2015. "Scheduling resource-constrained projects with a flexible project structure," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 246(2), pages 379-391.
    3. Weglarz, Jan & Józefowska, Joanna & Mika, Marek & Waligóra, Grzegorz, 2011. "Project scheduling with finite or infinite number of activity processing modes - A survey," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 208(3), pages 177-205, February.
    4. De Bruecker, Philippe & Van den Bergh, Jorne & Beliën, Jeroen & Demeulemeester, Erik, 2015. "Workforce planning incorporating skills: State of the art," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 243(1), pages 1-16.
    5. Brucker, Peter & Qu, Rong & Burke, Edmund, 2011. "Personnel scheduling: Models and complexity," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 210(3), pages 467-473, May.
    6. Broos Maenhout & Mario Vanhoucke, 2016. "An exact algorithm for an integrated project staffing problem with a homogeneous workforce," Journal of Scheduling, Springer, vol. 19(2), pages 107-133, April.
    7. repec:spr:annopr:v:252:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s10479-015-2033-z is not listed on IDEAS
    8. repec:eee:ejores:v:267:y:2018:i:2:p:439-452 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. repec:eee:ejores:v:263:y:2017:i:3:p:737-754 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Kellenbrink, Carolin & Helber, Stefan, 2014. "Quality- and profit-oriented scheduling of flexible resource-constrained projects," Hannover Economic Papers (HEP) dp-549, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.


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