The production line approach has been beneficially used in manufacturing companies to yield consistent‐quality standard products at relatively low cost. For this reason, service firms have also employed this approach, which embodies a division of labor, sequential flow processes, and standardization of services. Today's customers, however, are demanding customized services and shorter cycle times—outcomes that the production line approach finds difficult to achieve. An alternative process design proposed for information intensive services is the emerging “case manager” approach, in which all the steps required to deliver a service are performed by a single information technology‐enabled individual. This paper uses queuing theory to compare the waiting time performance of the production line and the case manager approaches. This comparison shows that when the number of process steps under the production line approach is relatively large, the relative efficiency of the case manager is sufficiently high, system utilization rate is moderate, and the size of staff downsizing is small, the case manager approach is preferred. Critical issues for the design of enabling information technology are then discussed. The paper concludes with suggestions for future research on the case manager approach.
Decision Sciences – Wiley
Published: Sep 1, 1999
Keywords: ; ; ; ; ; ;
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