The in-house project has become an online event. Global crowdsourcing has arrived.
If it’s been a while since you’ve checked in on the state of online crowdsourcing, you may remember it as a realm mostly dominated by graphic-design competitions. But these days, the new frontier for the competitive crowdsourced project includes building mobile apps, websites, architecture, and engineering.
What does crowdsourcing promise however? And how can small-business owners best take advantage of the professionals who’ll respond to a job once it’s posted at one of the many online platforms that serve as networks for these projects?
To find some answers, we turn to one expert in the industry, and break out a trio of tips to bring your crowdsourced-project dreams a whole lot closer to coming true.
Resources on the Cutting Edge: Crowdsourcing for SMBs
“More and more businesses are turning to crowdsourcing to build their infrastructure and complete jobs online, removing the often prohibitive barrier of hiring full time,” said Nikki Parker, a regional director at Freelancer.com. “For many, however, the growing world of crowdsourcing is uncharted territory — until you complete your first job, it can appear quite daunting.”
Here are three key steps to keep in mind as you plan your first crowdsourcing project:
1. Have a Solid Plan and a Clear Project Brief: Before you post a job to a freelance community, it’s vital that you have a clear idea about what your project is and what needs to be done. Refining your brief and running it under the eyes of some friendly freelancers, offline at first, will help you to set ensure a solid foundation when you take the posting live. This dramatically increases the chances that your work will be executed to your exact requirements. Your freelancers will, of course, have some suggestions and opinions of their own, so collaborate with them and make the most of hiring an expert.
2. Get to Know the Candidates: Each freelancer has his or her own expertise, skill sets, and work habits. It’s important to establish what those elements entail before working together with any individual or team. Choose your freelancer(s) based on his or her advertised skills, work experience, and customer feedback — don’t rely solely on their hourly rate or bidding price.
3. Be Upfront with Payment Details: Set up a third-party payment process to protect your business (and provide security for the freelancers you hire). Consider milestone payments — which work in a way similar to an escrow service. With milestones in place, money will only be released once the work has been successfully completed, each step along the way. On both ends of the relationship, transparency and security in payment processes is paramount — it goes a long way toward ensuring that you get the most out of crowdsourcing your job online.
One thing should become clear as you consider the above tips, Parker said: “Whilst global crowdsourcing is a relatively new tool for doing business, the tips and tactics for making it a success remain in essence the same as how we have always done business.”
That’s an encouraging note. It means that although the way technology is changing project bids, bringing them to the cutting edge, your already proven skills are still crucial to success — identifying strong candidates and bringing in talent that creates a product well representing your business. New tools, longstanding best practices — for small-business owners the two combine for a more powerful way to get the next job done.