December 21, 2020 Organizational Agility Through Crowdsourcing

We recently released a new Ebook—5 Questions You Must Answer when Looking to Adopt Enterprise Crowdsourcing. It’s a powerful resource designed to prepare our partners who are ready to use on-demand talent. The market is telling us that they are ready for this:

  • 32% of organizations are increasing their use of contingent workers during the pandemic (Gartner
  • 35% of Topcoder customers are now using Talent as a Service
  • The pandemic sped up businesses digital transformation by an average of 6 years (Twilio)

You know this change is happening. The next thing to understand is how you can drive organizational agility through crowdsourcing. When we say “Organizational agility” we mean from the time a project is identified to the work actually being completed. Keep in mind, going faster doesn’t just increase your velocity—it reduces your costs. As an example, if you’re paying someone by the hour and the work takes them 3 months longer, that will cost you more.

Typical enterprises have complex sourcing processes. For instance, when a senior engineer or product owner needs work to be done with external talent, they go through traditional internal approvals like an RFP process or recruitment cycle. This is an antiquated way of doing things. It’s too slow for how fast the world moves today. 

how quickly does work begin?

At Topcoder, we have a streamlined process to capture requirements, do the necessary knowledge transfer, and get great talent working on your projects extremely quickly. Work on the platform begins immediately. Most often, we are developing complex enterprise technologies. Here’s our platform data through nearly ¾ of our fiscal year: 

  • Within 24 Hours: You and your teammates are added to the project on the platform, your project PM is introduced, and project communications begin. For task work and simple projects, Topcoder talent—e.g. designers, developers, data scientists—begins working immediately.
  • Within 5 Days: On 55.8% of projects, Topcoder talent are engaged and actively creating outputs for you.
  • Within 10 Days: 79.2% of all projects have Topcoder talent engaged and creating assets for you. Enterprise software often has mature architectures and understanding those requires a little more time.

The remainder of projects, approximately 20% of the work on Topcoder, most often represent data science and analytics projects that simply take longer to set up. Once ready, the data science talent engages immediately and the outcomes are outstanding.


Our customers want scale. Over two decades of doing this, we typically see organizations adopt crowdsourcing in three ways, going from least agile to most agile. We can help you understand which path is most effective for you based on what you want to do. 

  1. Center of Excellence (COE)
  2. Crowd-powered Enterprise
  3. Crowd-enabled Enterprise
  1. Center of Excellence (COE)

In this setup, organizations find a group or two who are ready to try crowdsourcing. They are typically given the responsibility and budget to start. However, project approval remains centralized, meaning they have to go through a traditional mechanism to begin.

Pros: Lower-risk way to try crowdsourcing 
Cons: Project approval can take as long as traditional methods, mitigating the main advantage of speed that crowdsourcing provides 

  1. Crowd-powered Enterprise

With this arrangement, the teams that want to try crowdsourcing have both budget and project approval authority. Often this is paired with a monthly crowd allowance and the expectation that budget will be spent. In this scenario, customers are routinely dependent on technology services (project architects and PMs) that Topcoder would provide. 

Pros: No wasted time waiting on central approval, monthly budget allocation means users are always looking for new ways to leverage crowdsourcing, which provides them more experience with different types of crowd-powered projects
Cons: Still heavily dependent on white-glove service to deliver, not integrated in your team’s SDLC 

  1. Crowd-enabled Enterprise

Here, the organization invests in identifying and training power users. They become the experts on how to get work done at scale using Topcoder’s platform. The organization also successfully integrates their SDLC processes with crowd platform execution. This means anyone who has work to do can leverage crowdsourcing. These enterprises are truly transforming how they approach and execute technology work at scale.

Pros: True enterprise scale, lower services costs, IT agility
Cons: Requires commitment, doesn’t happen overnight

“If I’ve got an engineer lead developer, what better way to make sure that they are using their thought leadership than to give them the power of a global workforce?”

—Paul Hlivko, Wellmark Blue Cross & Blue Shield

Where to start

Our recommendation, based on 20 years of experience helping enterprises crowdsource, is that you start at number 2 – Crowd-powered Enterprise – as your baseline. If you start smaller than that, you are selling yourself short, because you’re giving up the biggest benefit you can realize through crowdsourcing—speed. Customers who start with a vision of Crowd-powered Enterprise can grow into scale and get the most amount of value, whether you mature into a Crowd-enabled Enterprise or not. 

Do you want to be associated with workforce strategy leadership that impacts your organization? Download the Ebook and get answers to the 5 critical crowd adoption questions we hear most often. And in Part 3 of this series, discover how to drive crowdsourcing adoption by starting with a portfolio of projects.

Dhananjay Deshmukh

Global Sales Head

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