Journal Articles

Real-Time Work Schedule Adjustment Decisions: An Investigation and Evaluation

2004, Production and Operations Management

D. Hur, V. Mabert, Kurt M. Bretthauer


Service managers often find that available worker capacity does not match with actual demand during a given day. They then must attempt to modify the planned work schedule to improve service and increase profitability. This study, which defines such a setting as the real-time work schedule adjustment decision, proposes mathematical formulations of the real-time adjustment and develops efficient heuristic approaches for this decision. The study evaluates the relative effectiveness of these heuristics versus experienced service managers, investigates the effect of the degree of schedule adjustment on profitability, and assesses the effect of demand forecast update errors on the performance of the schedule adjustment efforts. First, the results indicate that the computer based heuristics achieve higher profit improvement than experienced managers. Second, there is a trade-off between schedule stability and profitability so that more extensive schedule revisions (efficiency first heuristics) generally result in higher profitability. However, the incremental return on schedule changes is diminishing. Third, we find that active adjustments of work schedules are beneficial as long as the direction of demand change is accurately identified.


Hur, D., V. Mabert, and K. Bretthauer (2004), "Real-Time Work Schedule Adjustment Decisions: An Investigation and Evaluation," Production and Operations Management, Vol. 13, pp. 322-339.

Kelley School of Business

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