Team as a Service: Team Formation on Social Networks

Team as a Service (TaaS) is a new outsourcing service that enables on-demand creation and management of distributed teams for fast growing companies. The companies that use the TaaS model form a team according to the needs of a given project and provide managerial service throughout. Motivated by this new application, we study the Team Formation Problem (TFP) in which the quality and cost of communication is taken into account using the proximity of the potential members in a social network. Given a set of required skills, TFP aims to construct a capable team that can communicate and collaborate effectively. We study TFP with two measures for communication effectiveness: sum of distances and diameter. We compare the quality of solutions using various performance measures. Our experiments indicate the following: First, considering only the sum of distances or the diameter as the communication cost may yield solutions that perform poorly in other performance measures. Second, the heuristics in the literature find solutions that are significantly far from optimal whereas a general purpose solver is capable of solving small and medium size instances to optimality. To find solutions that perform well on several performance measures, we propose the diameter constrained TFP with sum of distances objective. To solve larger sizes, we propose a novel branch and bound approach: we formulate the problem as a constrained quadratic set covering problem, use the reformulation-linearization technique and relaxation to be able to decompose it into a series of linear set covering problems and impose the relaxed constraints through branching. Our computational experiments show that the algorithm is capable of solving large sizes that are intractable for the solver.


Bilkent University, Department of Industrial Engineering, Ankara, Turkey, Preprint March 2019



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