Here are some important aspects you must consider before you begin online Crowdsourcing for ideas & solutions?
What is your purpose to do online Crowdsourcing?
Check if your purpose indicates one or more of the following
a) The response you get is not as much important as the purpose of engaging with the users.
b) You have had this problem and you already tried all possible ways but are not able to solve it.
c) You don’t have any problem; you need ideas to do what you do still much better.
Note that you may have more than one purpose from above list, but typically you will have one of these as primary purpose. If your primary purpose is a) in above list, then this indicates that you want to use Crowdsourcing for marketing or branding purpose. If b) then it reflects that you would like to use Crowdsourcing for doing open innovation. Finally if c) sounds like your true purpose, it might indicate that you would like to co-create with either employees or customers.
If you struggle to fit your purpose in one or more of the above pointers then I suggest you have a second look at your plan, it might not be worth Crowdsourcing.
How would you enable online Crowdsourcing?
One sure way is to develop a website or pages within your website. It takes anything between 60 to 180 days to design a good system which can enable your basic Crowdsourcing. If you plan to have a workflow, approval, wiki or any fancy stuff then the time could be even more. Or in Crowdsourcing spirit you can outsource this to a company who is specialising in doing just the sites for Crowdsourcing. This will also help you save time and effort and also benefit from the experience of previous campaigns.
a) I suggest you create a new URL for the campaign and promote it with minimum of your branding or marketing material.
b) Avoid same look and feel for subsequent campaigns.
c) Make sure your online avenue for Crowdsourcing campaign has excellent up time and the URL works even after the campaign is over.
How would you take care of IP and confidentiality?
There is lot to learn from the processes your organisation has put up to deal with contract work, partnership or the outsourcing. The main point is the ability to segregate what cannot get out of the building and what can. Apply the same principles for Crowdsourcing.
a) Break down your purpose into smaller chunks. Crowdsource for one or more of these chunks which has biggest potential to benefit as per discussion around first point on “Purpose” above.
b) Think if your competition puts up such a Crowdsourcing challenge, will you benefit from it?. If the answer is “No” then most probably it is safe to make it public. Don’t forget that we are only taking about the challenge to be in public domain, the responses are anyway protected and only authorised persons can see it.
c) If responses could have IP involved then clearly state in your challenge how the IP will be handled.
How would you get the desired results?
Yes the proof of the pudding is in the eating. If you are a fairly big company then starting with your employees could be a good option. Requesting them to share it with their personal network is a big no no. If they do it on their own then consider you have put up a pretty interesting campaign.
a) Test on a sample user base to see if participants understand what you are after?
b) Decide on reward which is proportionate to your organization stature, purpose you are trying to accomplish, effort someone would put in to response and above all benefit you would receive because of a good response.
c) Use social networking enablers and professional Crowdsourcing vendors like ideaken to get desired results.
Finally remember - It takes patience and a little bit of experimentation to achieve consistent results in Crowdsourcing. Try out different campaigns and develop metrics to measure the benefits from your crowdsourcing initiative.