Hunting Digital Bugs by Putting Community Nit-Picking to Work
Readers of the TopCoder Blog may remember a recent article outlining an ambitious project being led by the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) whose focus is tackling the issue of Medicaid fraud through a series of Open Innovation contests and challenges hosted on the TopCoder Platform. The CMS Provider Screening Innovator Challenge is now nicely underway and entering a few new phases that are worthy of discussion and showcase how an innovative approach to developing compliant design is being utilized within an Open Innovation community.
For those unaware of the aforementioned CMS project, it is a stellar example of tackling a very complex issue through Open Innovation and utilizing a process of atomizing the project into many smaller pieces to maximize results. As the graphic below represents, the overall CMS Provider Screening Innovator Challenge was broken down into approximately 130 separate and specialized contests ranging from architecture, to development, to testing and beyond.
On Point Read: 7 Reasons Open Innovation via Atomization Works
Hunting Bugs and the Power of Cognitive Surplus
At TopCoder we have a specialized contest dubbed Bug Hunts or in the singular form, a Bug Hunt. Like everything else at TopCoder, hunting bugs is also a contest. Competitors will dive deep into an architecture, a design user-interface, or a piece of functioning software and create a list of flaws they believe they have spotted. They have a set contest time frame to submit as many flaws as they believe they have uncovered. Reviewers then confirm if an actual flaw does exist and then credit the appropriate competitor – the one who submitted the flaw first – with the Bug Hunt victory. We utilize them – Bug Hunts – to help correct design UI flaws, traditional software bugs and beyond. Bug Hunts represent an incredibly efficient way to tackle a persistent issue in the digital world and by utilizing a contest format, the client gains much greater control with regards to time and budget spent searching for and identifying flaws. For our community members, some just have a knack for this sort of work and we’re glad to offer them the opportunity to put that skill-set to great use over and over again.
Repurposing Bug Hunts to Achieve Compliance in Design
For the CMS project discussed earlier, the idea behind Bug Hunts has been shaped to serve an entirely new purpose. A major challenge when creating digital assets for a government client is ensuring compliance with requirements, standards, legislation and regulations. Non-compliant design, architecture, user interfaces and more can cause major delays in production and can ultimately result in a lot more severe consequences than just a delay.
To help ensure compliant design, TopCoder is repurposing Bug Hunts in a brand new fashion. TopCoder community members are being asked to feverishly comb through various winning design submissions to spot flaws that would have triggered a compliance violation. Community members will be paid for each confirmed flaw discovered and the competitor who finds the very most flaws will win the overall contest and take home the largest prize money reward.
Providing fun, short-term opportunities to our community in this way simply means many more eyes are on the hunt, working in a massively parallel fashion to locate existing flaws. In layman’s terms, this takes the art of nit-picking, which some individuals are quite good at, and wraps it in competition format, opening it up so many can contribute. Identifying design flaws at this early stage will save time and more importantly, will help ensure the very best, most compliant design moves forward and is utilized in the final outputs.
When you are working with a competitive and collaborative community, such as TopCoder, you can attack old challenges in brand new ways. We hope this innovative method to help ensure compliant design is a huge success for this CMS project and we promise to keep you posted as this 8 to 9 month long project rolls on.
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image credit: designmind.frogdesign.com