September 3, 2019 Why You Should Engage IP, Legal, and Key Stakeholders Early in New Crowdsourcing Programs

There is a marked difference between running a project or two through a crowdsourcing platform versus structuring a program for your organization so you and your teams can use crowdsourcing, at will, and at scale. We serve both types of customers at Topcoder and the exciting news—for the broader gig economy “industry”—is that many more companies are now interested in understanding how to plan for, set up, and execute through crowdsourcing. The reason is simple. This type of labor option allows them to ramp productivity and innovation for their enterprise.

For our customers looking to use crowdsourcing at scale, we have honest and flat advice. Engage your legal team early.

Concerns about IP, data privacy, confidentiality, risk and compliance run high when starting any new crowdsourcing program. Companies experienced tapping crowd talent say, across the board, that upfront communication is important to establish trust and ensure all stakeholders are informed and have the opportunity to make critical adjustments early on in the development process. Engaging IP, legal and other key stakeholders throughout the process ensures that projects are designed in ways that both protect the company andmove quickly toward end goals. Here are four strategies to help secure a successful program.

Address IP From the Start

Step one for any project is to engage IP counsel early and thoughtfully, making them part owners in the process, to help open innovation projects proceed smoothly. Pull pertinent information together into a tidy package and run problem statements and the terms, conditions, and communication plans by IP counsel. A proactive structure and packaging of the IP conversation shows that people in the program have respect for protocol, chain of command and stakeholder opinions. This approach avoids typical hurdles and ensures a positive outcome. Though some IP counsels can be difficult, most like to be innovators. Often they get called in when there’s a problem or to clean up a mess—a highly stressful situation that can be avoided if they’re engaged as partners early on in a smart way that doesn’t burn through a lot of their time.

Get Corporate Counsel On Your Team

In addition to IP counsel, be sure to reach out to the corporate business counsel to alert them about the program and find out their needs for review and approval. Package materials for review, including a high-level description of any communication plan. Share what you’ll be doing, the objective behind it, what needs to be reviewed, the decisions corporate counsel needs to make too support you and by which date you’ll need their review and decisions. Plan to allow for a two-week response turnaround.

Offer In-Person and Online Support Resources

Create a small team of program managers who consult with employees if they have questions once they are involved with the program and create a comprehensive resource site that contains all the program information, along with answers to FAQs. The site can include information on how to best identify which tasks should be done by employees, which are best done working with a supplier and which could be worked on in collaboration with on-demand talent or crowdsourcing.

Create a Compliance Video

Standardize compliance requirements, and make them easier to understand and follow, by creating a training video for employees to watch before engaging with a program. The video can include everything from login, security, permissions and administrative control, or include information about what makes a great project post, budgeting guidance, who to contact in your legal department for guidance, and more.To find out more about how to begin or advance a crowdsourcing program, check out our playbook, “How to Thrive in the New Economy of Work: The Ultimate Guide to Adopting Open Talent Models within Your Organization.”

GTM & Strategy

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