Lessons Learned From More Than 10 Years of Crowdsourcing

crowdsourcingSpoiler Alert…designing and successfully implementing crowdsourced business processes is not easy! Reorganizing the way your business approaches long-standing tenants of workplace structure and management is a complex undertaking. That’s not to say it’s impossible, but it takes a disciplined approach and expertise in numerous areas to make crowdsourcing a reliable part of your workflow.

The allure of a seamlessly integrated virtual workforce that redefines traditional staffing approaches to deliver massive efficiencies over traditional solutions is certainly something that will pique any executive’s interest. Many businesses have tried crowdsourcing tasks on their own, and many have been disappointed and frustrated by the challenges that stand between theory and practice. At Lionbridge, we’ve spent more than 10 years navigating these complexities, and wanted to share some insights that any business should know when considering crowdsourcing solutions.

Choose a Partner that Delivers What You Need

When you elect to tap crowdsourcing solutions to streamline complex business processes, it’s imperative that your chosen partner is able to deliver the full breadth of the service required. The first step in identifying that partner is to determine whether you need a managed solution, which is necessary for more complex projects like data acquisition/enrichment, testing, etc., as opposed to an unmanaged crowd where vendors are simply using a tech platform to aggregate the crowd members for you. The latter option might fit well if you are just looking for survey responses or user feedback, but will leave you still holding the reigns of the entire program management process. The true benefit of crowdsourcing to enterprise-level businesses comes from leveraging the solution as a legitimate (in fact, more efficient and potentially higher-quality) alternative to traditional outsourcing, which requires a partner that delivers high-quality, prescreened workers with the prerequisite skill sets to deliver on program results.

Paying Crowd Workers is Important               

Crowd workers are doing real work, and should be compensated with real currency, not online credits and gift certificates. The challenges of managing payrolls for 100,000 plus global crowd workers while monitoring the tasks they’ve completed is a mere logistical hurdle, compared to paying those workers in their local currency. Your crowd partner should be able to handle these challenges and do so while maximizing financial efficiencies. We’ve deployed a global SAP platform that helps us consistently manage operations. Additionally, we save on bank fees by establishing weekly payment processes, and we leverage a concurrent multi-currency bank to allow us to pay in local currencies.

A Qualified Crowd Equals Higher Quality

As mentioned earlier, for a business to truly trust the work being done within the crowd, they must have a high level of trust in the members of the virtual workforce as they would in their own full-timers. Pre-qualifying these highly skilled members of our global crowd represents a huge staffing challenge. With more than 100,000 pre-qualified members in our crowd, we can pretty easily identify teams with the specific skills a client requires for a project; but no crowd provider can have every skill set at their fingertips. Whenever we have unique client demands, we often augment our regular proactive recruitment activities with highly specific, localized searches for new crowd workers to meet those skills demands.

Managing Projects in the Crowd is Crucial                                                             

Much of the frustration experienced by businesses attempting to leverage crowdsourcing comes as a result of that first foray into working with an unmanaged crowd. Let’s face it, staff needs leadership and when your team is scattered across the globe, leaders need tools tailored to these unique geographic challenges. From day one, we’ve tackled this challenge head on by combining our own proprietary cloud-based operations management platform with experienced project managers strategically located around the world. Where many unmanaged crowd providers rely solely on technology as a management tool, we’ve learned through experience that success is driven by people, not machines…and this dynamic will likely never change.

Redesigning Workflow to Function in a Crowd Model is a Complex Process

During the past ten years, we’ve become adept at evaluating complex business processes and redesigning their componential tasks to be executed by the virtual workforce. However, this is not a capability that was developed overnight; it took a great deal of experience and even some hard-learned lessons. Now, we have a formalized analysis process that even helps clients identify obsolete workflow killers that the crowd can simply eliminate. It’s this experience in process and task design that is the “skeleton key” to maximizing the crowd. By leveraging our proprietary project management platform, we can systematically track the deconstructed workflow and actually deliver project results faster, cheaper and more accurately than the client’s former procedures.


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