4 Elements for Building a Successful Custom Crowd

March 18 CS BlogOver the past few months, we’ve discussed the benefits that enterprise-level businesses experience with managed crowdsourcing versus “one-size-fits-all” platform solutions. Tasks such as translation, testing, and data/content research have repeatedly been completed at a higher and more consistent quality level than platform providers can offer.

These tasks are more complex than “micro tasking,” and each have their own unique sets of challenges that benefit from a managed approach. But, what happens when the enterprise wants to leverage the efficiency and scalability of managed crowdsourcing for more intricate projects that require a highly specialized knowledge-base? This is where the custom crowd is highly effective.

A custom crowd is typically comprised of members with specific domain knowledge, expertise and experience, such as accountants, system analysts, or lawyers, to name just a few examples. Legal terminology is like a foreign language to many of us, but global corporations are often tasked with tracking updates to laws and regulations in dozens of languages in the many different countries they operate in. It’d be extremely difficult – and costly – to recruit a department of full-time employees to efficiently handle this assignment because of its global scale and unpredictable volume of work.

It’s a complicated process, but by sourcing a custom crowd comprised entirely of native speaking legal experts located in key markets around the world, the project suddenly becomes a lot less daunting thanks to their professional expertise. Based on our 18 years of crowdsourcing experience, here are four critical elements to consider when building a custom crowd for your business:

  1.  Sourcing: The best custom crowds are sourced and sought out based on the qualifications required to meet customer demands. Managed crowdsourcing partners are highly selective about accepting workers, but they still need a vast, international network to find the professionals with the right credentials to build a custom crowd. This network can’t be created overnight, as many young crowd start-ups have learned. Working with an experienced partner is a must for the enterprise.
  2. Qualifying:  Sourcing crowd workers with specific skills is vital, but qualifying them to participate in a custom crowd is equally as important. It’s no easy task vetting the location, education and professional credentials of workers across the globe. Verifying a resume isn’t enough. At Lionbridge, for example, our custom crowd workers are required to complete tests created specifically for each project to ensure crowd workers actually possess the skills needed to do the job correctly at the start.
  3. Workflow and Compliance: Crowd work, by its very nature, must be approached differently than if it were being completed by full-time employees at a centralized office. This includes not only redesigning an effective cloud-based workflow to perform the work, but also instituting safeguards to ensure that all local labor laws and work regulations are being followed.
  4. Payment: This final step should never be overlooked. Managed crowdsourcing partners providing a true end-to-end experience must take responsibility for fulfilling payment obligations to crowd workers. As crowdsourcing becomes more sophisticated, the crowd increasingly understands the value of their time, and this is especially true of custom crowd workers, who understand the inherent value of their knowledge and specialized skills. No one wants to be paid with online credits. They prefer real cash in their local currency, which is why Lionbridge crowd members are paid directly to their bank accounts.


The effectiveness of the custom crowd is already supported by its rapid growth in popularity among enterprises. As crowdsourcing continues to mature – from basic tasks to more complex, managed projects, to highly specialized assignments – watch for the custom crowd to emerge as a valuable tool to complete challenging projects for the enterprise.


Have you worked on a project that would have benefited from a custom crowd? Will your company seek to tap a custom crowd in 2014?

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