Article

Optimal Workforce Mix in Service Systems with Two Types of Customers

Production and Operations Management (Impact Factor: 1.76). 01/2009; 14(2):218 - 231. DOI: 10.1111/j.1937-5956.2005.tb00020.x

ABSTRACT We consider a service system with two types of customers. In such an environment, the servers can either be specialists (or dedicated) who serve a specific customer type, or generalists (or flexible) who serve either type of customers. Cross-trained workers are more flexible and help reduce system delay, but also contribute to increased service costs and reduced service efficiency. Our objective is to provide insights into the choice of an optimal workforce mix of flexible and dedicated servers. We assume Poisson arrivals and exponential service times, and use matrix-analytic methods to investigate the impact of various system parameters such as the number of servers, server utilization, and server efficiency on the choice of server mix. We develop guidelines for managers that would help them to decide whether they should be either at one of the extremes, i.e., total flexibility or total specialization, or some combination. If it is the latter, we offer an analytical tool to optimize the server mix.

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