Process Design in a Down-Sizing Service Operation

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Journal of Operations Management




We initiated this research to help managers of an Army Central Issue Facility (CIF) plan for the possibility of staff reductions. The CIF is a retail warehouse that issues tactical clothing and equipment to soldiers. Management wanted to know what the impact of down-sizing would be on its customer service, measured as average time-in-system (T-I-S). In addition, management wanted to know how best to allocate its workers at each possible staffing level. A simulation study showed that customer batch size had a greater effect on average T-I-S than did server allocation. New managers at the CIF used insights gained from this study to make process changes beyond the scope of the original research. The result was an increase in both throughput and customer service. The quantitative and qualitative dimensions of the research combined to produce a rich variety of implications concerning process design, the application of capacity allocation and batching ideas to a service system, and considerations for down-sizing operations.