20 February 2020

Research pick: Optimal staffing of call centres - "Establishing call-centre staffing levels using aggregate planning and simulation approach"

How do call centre managers most effectively decide on staffing levels. New research published in the European Journal of Industrial Engineering offers a new approach.

Rodrigo Barbosa-Correa, Alcides Santander-Mercado, and María Jubiz-Dia of the Universidad del Norte, in Colombia, and colleague Ricardo Rodríguez-Ramos of Bienestar IPS also in Colombia, explain that optimizing staffing levels in a telecommunications company call centre generally needs to be done at the same time as keeping costs down. They carried out an analysis of daily tasks to work out hourly workloads. They then applied an aggregate planning model to get an initial solution for requisite staffing levels based on workforce costs, service level, personnel hiring and migration, and work supplements.

The output from that analysis was then fed into a discrete-event simulation model. This allowed the team to assess the system performance based on queuing characteristics, demand variability, and resources utilization. They could then look at different schedules and capacity levels to see which would perform best and match the demands of a call centre.

The team suggests that their approach gave better results with lower waiting times and more balanced resource utilization than other analytical techniques previously used. “The approach is useful for planning capacity levels in projects and locating new centres,” the team writes.

Barbosa-Correa, R., Santander-Mercado, A., Jubiz-Diaz, M. and Rodríguez-Ramos, R. (2020) ‘Establishing call-centre staffing levels using aggregate planning and simulation approach’, European J. Industrial Engineering, Vol. 14, No. 1, pp.1–33.

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