Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Crowdsourcing In Lieu of Outsourcing

The last couple of decades have seen a trend toward outsourcing versus traditional hiring to meet business needs. Coming out of the Great Recession, there is an even newer concept starting to pick up steam. It’s called crowdsourcing. Why not tap the power of the crowd when you have a specific task that needs a solution?

The Best Crowdsourcing PlatformCrowdsourcing is a distributed approach to problem solving. You normally think of handing a task to a specific employee or to a manager who will delegate it to a particular employee. In lieu of that, you can go out and bring in a temp or contract employee or forget the employment model completely and hire an outside firm to do the work. If you want to sell a building, you contract with a real estate agent. If you want to build a building you contract with an architect and general building contractor.

Crowdsourcing works something like contracting with a local firm except that the world is your marketplace. Many tasks like web design, logo design, artwork, article writing, app development and so on don’t require someone located nearby. Pretty much anything you can do on a computer can be done anywhere on Earth. On the network, the home office in Beijing is just as close as the corporate office down the hall.

Isn’t this just another form of outsourcing? It is, but on a micro scale and with interesting payment options. What I’m describing is farming out your tasks to individuals and crowds, not setting up your own shop to get cheaper labor overseas or partnering with a major corporation as a service provider.

When you go out for services locally, you probably start with the Yellow Pages or an online directory equivalent. You pick from who’s available in the area so you can meet with them in person to describe the assignment, write the contract and review the progress & results. When you go out for services online you do lose the ability to press the flesh or get your hand around somebody’s throat - literally. But if you can get comfortable doing business without the physical contact, you open up a world of new opportunities - literally!

The biggest enabler for online contracting or crowdsourcing is having a marketplace were buyers and sellers can meet. It’s a lot less dicey than trying to conduct business in forums and chats. Fortunately there is a very large and established marketplace already available with 6 million members worldwide. It’s called Witmart. They’ve got the resources and the tools that make it easy for service providers and clients to hook up successfully.

Here’s where the crowdsourcing idea comes in. You have the usual option to offer a job on a contract basis where you specify qualifications, negotiate the reward, job content and completion date and then pay upon completion. But you also have the option to make a contest out it. You specify the job and the amount of the reward and let the marketplace have at it. You then pick from best solution or solutions and release the reward to the winner or winners.

Where does the contest approach work best? It’s for things like logo design, business card designs, website design, marketing slogans, promotions, and so on. These jobs need quick solutions, don’t demand a lot of time and effort, and the value of diverse perspectives is an asset.

Contracting is more suitable for bigger jobs that require lots of time and effort, need considerable communication and coordination and have many specific requirements. Often the work is done in stages with payment released based on meeting milestones.

Do you occasionally or regularly need to find someone to build a website, translate documents, develop an iPhone App, promote a brand or come up with a company logo and find it a big hassle? Your life could get a lot easier right now by checking out the freelance marketplace with verified high quality providers at Witmart.

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