or relying on contractors,” says Scott Kim, project
manager at KKI.
And unlike conventional outsourcing models,
the project team is not completely dependent on
individuals or small groups, which eliminates the
“single point of failure,” adds Mr. Bonner. “You
aren’t paying someone’s hourly wage, you are paying
for the deliverable.”
Along with streamlining progress, crowdsourcing
can provide a different perspective on projects,
says Mr. Townsend.
“Crowds are most powerful when they work
together,” he says. “You get richer content from a
diverse crowd than you might otherwise with an
internal team of people who all know each other.
Politics don’t come into play.”
Felicity Stone, quality assurance project manager
at Solid State Group, a web content management
book of maps and tips based on input from users of
the videogame Far Cry 2.
“Involving gamers in the project gave me a real
sense of the content and topics people were interested
in, and the level of detail they wanted,” he says.
Crowdsourcing does come with some challenges,
says Mr. Townsend. And companies should carefully choose which project tasks are appropriate
and determine how they’ll manage the process.
“As with any sourcing, it’s still a major project,”
he says. “How you manage the information you
gather is crucial to the strategic value of the project.”
Companies tapping into crowdsourcing should
first define the goals and scope of the project and
then break it down into self-contained tasks that
would benefit from crowd input.
“Crowdsourcing doesn’t work for every-
thing,” Mr. Townsend warns. “Crowds won’t
IT projects get bloated with extra
tasks that need to be done in a
certain timeline to move the project
forward. Project managers can
crowdsource those tasks that don’t
need to be under their direct control
to get them moving on parallel tracks.
—Clinton Bonner, formerly at TopCoder Glastonbury, Connecticut, USA
software firm in London, England, agrees. She
uses uTest, a crowdsourcing service for software
application testing. “Sometimes team members
are too close to the project to pick up every single
error, which is why it helps to have a fresh set of
eyes dedicated to finding bugs and delivering a
high-quality application,” Ms. Stone says.
“You also get a better sense of the interests of your
audience,” says David Hutchison, associate professor
at Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada.
Mr. Hutchison is using crowdsourcing to develop a
self-organize into complex structures, but they
will respond efficiently with simple tasks and
Project teams must also have a strategy for
evaluating crowdsourced results and incorporating
them into the project.
“People think crowdsourcing is this brand-new thing, but it’s really just sourcing using a
different transaction medium,” he says. “It
requires the same strategic planning as any
other sourcing project.”