Resource Allocation in Service Networks

CITRIS researchers at UC Santa Cruz are studying resource allocation policies in a service environment. This work combines statistics, simulation, and optimization models with the objective of developing best-practice scheduling and pricing rules for use in management and technology development. Technology and Information Management Professor Kevin Ross is applying this research to workforce scheduling for call centers and air traffic flow management for the national airspace.

Service organizations like call centers deploy networks of human agents and automated assets to serve their customers. Their performance depends critically on the hiring, training, and roster assignments of customer service agents (CSRs), and the appropriate routing of tasks to agents with the right skills. Personnel costs account for 60-70 percent of the typical center’s total cost, and the importance of good management practices will continue to rise as higher value-added technical, medical, and financial services are provided remotely through contact centers.

CITRIS contributions include improving the waiting time and resolution rates when servers are frequently switching among different job types. Recent results demonstrate new skill- and learning-aware contact routing policies whose mean customer service level performance over time is better than that of standard longest-queue-first routing. This unique combination of behavioral and operational modeling is an example of the interdisciplinary nature of services science research.

Managing the national airspace system is a difficult, safety-critical, and expensive endeavor. When delays occur due to weather or other problems, controllers and traffic flow managers need to make decisions on how that delay should be dispersed throughout the system. Ross and colleagues are working on tools to aid that decision process through modeling of the traffic and searching for optimal delay scenarios.  This work combines the latest technology with human capabilities to improve safety and on-time arrival rates for airlines and passengers.