March 13, 2020 Why TaaS is Good for the Topcoder Community
Last week I had the privilege of spending time with my Topcoder colleagues while planning for our upcoming year. One of my favorite things that we did was participate in the Topcoder community Town Hall. Something became very apparent to me when reviewing the questions that were submitted – there are a lot of questions and concerns about TaaS. This blog will help address those questions in a format more easily accessible than a timestamped video.
What is TaaS?
Let’s start off by clearly establishing what TaaS is so that we’re all on the same page. I will describe it exactly the same way I do to our customers.
Talent-as-a-Service is an engagement model on the Topcoder platform in which members of the community engage directly with a customer, acting as one of their employees. Before work begins, all parties agree on the tools being used, the communications cadence, and which meetings, if any, the community member will engage in. The TaaS team members will commit to working 20 or 40 hours per week based on the customer need. The customer is charged a flat rate per team member, per week.
Why is this good for the community?
During the offsite planning session last week we ran a small hackathon competition amongst ourselves to help us better define what Topcoder will look like five years from now. My team (shoutout Team WHAM-O!) focused on what can be done to make Topcoder an appealing option for people to commit to full-time. We ran an ideation challenge as part of this exercise and asked a key question – What would it take for you to switch from part-time gig worker to full-time?
There was a consistent theme across the submissions – financial volatility. It becomes hard to commit to a full-time Topcoder lifestyle if you don’t feel you have a predictable income.
TaaS is an immediately available answer to that concern – members who participate in TaaS are compensated a flat weekly fee for their engagement. We ask our customers to commit to at least one month with a TaaS team, and we’re seeing interest in four+ month teams in early conversations.
Learn more about the TaaS model for community members in this Thrive article.
Will TaaS projects reduce the number of challenges?
The types of customers and work we are pursuing with TaaS is the kind of work that we couldn’t traditionally run in a challenge. Some constraints, such as security, environment access, or procurement processes, made it difficult to get challenges going. TaaS cleanly addresses those constraints and opens a whole new channel of work that we couldn’t offer on Topcoder in the past.
Challenges remain the soul of what we do on Topcoder. Without challenges in which our team members demonstrate their skills, there is no value to TaaS. We continue to lead every conversation with challenges first and foremost, and TaaS exists as a path for when challenges won’t work.
The end result of all of this will be more opportunities for earning on Topcoder, more predictability for those who want it, and more customers joining our ecosystem and becoming comfortable working in new ways.
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