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"You have to get wet to learn how to swim" applied to bridging the gap between research into personnel scheduling and its implementation in practice

Petrovic, Sanja


Professor of Operational Research


Personnel scheduling problems have attracted research interests for several decades. They have been considerably changed over time, accommodating a variety of constraints related to legal and organisation requirements, part-time staff, flexible hours of staff, staff preferences, etc. This led to a myriad of approaches developed for solving personnel scheduling problems including optimisation, meta-heuristics, artificial intelligence, decision-support, and also hybrids of these approaches. However, this still does not imply that this research has a large impact on practice and that state-of-the art models and algorithms are widely in use in organisations. One can find a reasonably large number of software packages that aim to assist in personnel scheduling. A classification of this software based on its purpose will be proposed, accompanied with a discussion about the level of support that this software offers to schedulers. A general conclusion is that the available software, with some exceptions, does not benefit from the wealth of developed models and methods. The remaining of the paper will provide insights into some characteristics of real-world scheduling problems that, in the author’s opinion, have not been given a due attention in the personnel scheduling research community yet and which could contribute to the enhancement of the implementation of research results in practice. Concluding remarks are that in order to bridge the gap that still exists between research into personnel scheduling and practice, we need to engage more with schedulers in practice and also with software developers; one may say we need to get wet if we want to learn how to swim.


Petrovic, S. (2019). "You have to get wet to learn how to swim" applied to bridging the gap between research into personnel scheduling and its implementation in practice. Annals of Operations Research, 275(1), 161–179.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 27, 2017
Online Publication Date Jul 8, 2017
Publication Date 2019-04
Deposit Date Jul 7, 2017
Publicly Available Date Jul 8, 2017
Journal Annals of Operations Research
Print ISSN 0254-5330
Electronic ISSN 1572-9338
Publisher Springer Verlag
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 275
Issue 1
Pages 161–179
Keywords Personnel scheduling; Software for personnel scheduling; Personnel scheduling research directions
Public URL
Publisher URL


Swim 10.1007_s10479-017-2574-4.pdf (589 Kb)

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