Flexible Workforce Management (2004-)

Constraint Satisfaction and Optimization Laboratory and
Computational Finance Research Laboratory
University of Essex

Group Members:
Professor Edward Tsang (Department of Computer Science)
Professor Chris Voudouris (BT Lab Manager, Visiting Professor in Computer Science and City Associate at CCFEA)
Qingfu Zhang (Department of Computer Science)
Wudong Liu (PhD student with BT Sponsorship)
Yossi Borenstein (BT Sponsored Senior Research Officer)
Nazaraf Shah (BT Sponsored Senior Research Officer)
Botond Virginas (BT)
Raphael Dorne (BT>
Gilbert Owusu (BT)

Affiliated Members:
Dr Maria Fasli (Department of Computer Science) - Agents, Auction
Dr Sheri Markose (Department of Economics) - Agents, Economics
Tim Gosling (ex-PhD student with BT Sponsorship) - Agents, Supply Chain
Professor Abhinay Muthoo (Department of Economics) - Bargaining
Nanlin Jin (ex-PhD student) - Bargaining

This project is in collaboration with BT. Although it is motivated by BT's workforce scheduling problem, the ideas developed in this project are general. It involved scheduling engineers to jobs, satisfying a wide range of constraints. This is a multi-objective optimization problem. Some of the objectives are to minimize travelling distance and to maximize service quality as defined by the company.

Staff empowerment is also a major theme in this project. In staff empowerment, the objective is to define bargaining mechanisms (which includes communication protocols) to enable various service regions in BT to schedule their worforce efficiently. By employing a market mechanism, we aim to help the management and the region managers to generate all-win solutions. A retractable contract network protocol (RECONNET) has been defined. This protocol enables the system to conduct local search methods to search for near-optimal solutions. Guided Local Search is one of those meta-heuristic methods under consideration due to its simplicity and success elsewhere. As the management has multiple objectives, this is a multi-objective optimization problem, which is also a major research area in the group.

Related project: Automated Bargaining

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