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Designing flexibility: characterizing the value of cross-training practices

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Most service systems consist of multi-departemental structures corresponding to multiple types of service requests, with possibly multi-skill agents that can deal with several types of service requests. The design of flexibility in terms of agents' that can deal with several types of service requests. The design of flexibility in terms of agents' skill sets and assignments of requests is critical issue for such systems. The authors explore the questions of how much flexibility to have in terms of the number of skills of the agents and what type of flexibility one would like to have in terms of the composition of agents' skill sets. The authors' objective is to identify preferred flexibility structures when demand is random and capacity is finite. They start with the analysis of a model where time evolves in discrete time periods and capacities are considered to be deterministic. In this setting, the authors identify general structural properties of flexibility design pertaining to the marginal values of flexibility and capacity. They define balance in skill diversity and show when structures with higher balance are superior. They then extend the investigation to a setting, where time evolves continuously and each department is a queueing system. Based on a bounding technique from the "dynamic routing" literature, they characterize conditions under which a similar skill diversity balance result holds. Finally, through a numerical study, Aksin and Karaesmen illustrate the implications of the structural results in a call center setting.

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en

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application/pdf

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http://flora.insead.edu/fichiersti_wp/inseadwp2002/2002-35.pdf

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Copyright INSEAD. All rights reserved