Productivity Analysis in Services Using Timing Studies

33 Pages Posted: 5 Mar 2014

See all articles by Yina Lu

Yina Lu

Columbia University - Columbia Business School

Aliza Heching

IBM Research

Marcelo Olivares

University of Chile; University of Chile - Engineering Department

Date Written: February 28, 2014


We develop a novel empirical approach to analyze workforce productivity in service systems via timing studies – detailed time-stamped data recording relevant activities performed by the employees processing service requests. Our econometric approach, which is based on models from survival analysis, takes advantage of the detailed information provided by timing study data to capture the time-varying factors that affect productivity, such as the workload level, switching among different tasks and temporary work-relief from breaks during the working shift. We apply our framework in an information technology service delivery system and use the estimated results to evaluate alternative designs of the service system in terms of workforce productivity. Specifically, our methodology can inform decisions regarding workload allocation, routing, prioritization, and working schedule design in a service system.

Keywords: Service Operations, Applied Econometrics, Empirical Research, Behavioral Operations, OM Practice

Suggested Citation

Lu, Yina and Heching, Aliza and Olivares, Marcelo, Productivity Analysis in Services Using Timing Studies (February 28, 2014). Available at SSRN: or

Yina Lu

Columbia University - Columbia Business School ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

Aliza Heching

IBM Research ( email )

1101 Kitchawan Road
Route 134
Yorktown Heights, NY 10598
United States
914 945 3191 (Phone)
914 945 3434 (Fax)

Marcelo Olivares (Contact Author)

University of Chile ( email )

Pío Nono Nº1, Providencia
Santiago, R. Metropolitana 7520421

University of Chile - Engineering Department ( email )

Republica 701 Santiago

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