Winning with big data

KPMG helped a major sports league create a data-driven schedule, giving players more rest and enabling the highest level of competition.

Major sports league
Professional sports
Creating an automated, computer-based scheduling solution
  • Client challenge
  • Benefits to client
  • Approach
  • KPMG insights

Client challenge

This sports league’s game schedule touches almost every aspect of every team in the league—arenas, fans, communities, travel, media coverage, revenue, team matchups, player satisfaction, and a host of other factors. But the most important to the league is the health and well-being of the players on its many teams, who put their bodies through grueling tests day after day, month after month during game season. They need rest so they can play at the highest levels, and managing the game schedule is an important key to great competition.

So the league decided it was time to transition from its decades-old manual scheduling process and embrace an automated, computer-based system that would take into account each team’s desires as well as the league’s many considerations and constraints.

Benefits to client

Since implementing this system, the metrics the league uses to measure the health and well-being of its players—based on back-to-back games and other scheduling issues—have improved significantly, giving the players more rest and helping them compete at the highest levels. The solution:

  • enables the league and its teams to record their requirements and other parameters using an intuitive, natural-language-based interface
  • generates quick, easy-to-understand feedback about potential schedules
  • uses the cloud to minimize calculation and schedule generation costs
  • uses heuristics to address a multitude of scheduling objectives, objections, and dimensions.

The league is now able to create the best schedules for its teams and players, potentially increase media revenue, decrease travel expenses, and enable better match-ups and more satisfied players. But the game isn’t finished. The league plans to use the system to continue improving its scheduling performance. That’s a win for the league, its players, fans, communities, and others who care deeply about this exciting game.


The league initially thought it might find some off-the-shelf software that would provide the scheduling solution it sought. But after researching the issue and talking to experts, it became apparent that the league needed a unique system to meet its unique needs. So they engaged KPMG to help define and develop the scheduling solution.

We assembled a team of mathematicians, designers, developers, and representatives from the league and then worked together to develop a constraint-based optimization system and elegant, intuitive user interface. The system enables the league to identify and assign values for its scheduling goals, as well as the scheduling issues it wants to avoid. 

The optimization engine we created solves large, complex scheduling problems. Its user interface combines visual design, functionality, engineering, behavioral patterns, human factors, information architecture, situational awareness, work flow, data visualization, and problem-solving into an intuitive, iterative process.

KPMG insights

We're all one team

A roll-up-your-sleeves collaboration during development is critical. The league and the KPMG team of specialists worked shoulder-to-shoulder to develop the solution and then improve its performance. They even got a little obsessed about putting more points on the board.

Get all stakeholders involved

The most valuable solutions for complex scheduling situations enable all stakeholders to be actively involved in the process through an intuitive, powerful, front-end interface.

Focus on the game

Nothing is more important to a sports league than the health and well-being of its players, and our team kept its focus on making sure the scheduling solution we developed would provide them the rest they need to play at the highest levels in a very competitive sport.

The optimization engine we created solves large, complex scheduling problems. Its user interface is intuitive and iterative.