In many service organizations, scheduling is complicated because service demand— quantity, type of service, and timing—is often variable and hard to forecast. In addition, inventories may not be possible and capacity is limited. For example, a movie theater cannot show the movie before the customers arrive and hope to satisfy demand. The theater is also limited as to how many people can occupy the theater at any given time. Because of these constraints, some additional techniques are available for scheduling services. These include scheduling the services demanded and scheduling the workforce.

Scheduling Services Demanded

Techniques for scheduling services demanded range from setting appointments, requiring reservations, using a public schedule, and delaying or back-ordering the service. Let's look at each of these individually.


Appointments Appointment systems set a time for the customer to use the service. For example, students make appointments with professors to discuss class work. Appointments minimize customer waiting time and make good use of the service provider's capacity. Appointment systems are used by physicians, lawyers, auto repair or service shops, and hair salons. The shared component of each of these services is that no tangible inventory is usually possible. Disadvantages of an appointment system include the problem of “no-shows”—people ...

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