We study an iterative cutting-plane algorithm on an integer program, for minimizing the staffing costs of a multiskill call center subject to service-level requirements which are estimated by simulation. We solve a sample average version of the problem, where the service-levels are expressed as functions of the staffing for a fixed sequence of random numbers driving the simulation. An optimal solution of this sample problem is also an optimal solution to the original problem when the sample size is large enough. Several difficulties are encountered when solving the sample problem, especially for large problem instances, and we propose practical heuristics to deal with these difficulties. We report numerical experiments with examples of different sizes. The largest example corresponds to a real-life call center with 65 types of calls and 89 types of agents (skill groups), and we find a good solution it in about half an hour.
Published December 2004 , 28 pages