crowdsourcingsoftwareI’ve written extensively over the past few weeks about some of the cultural and procedural rules required to get the most out of crowdsourcing. As crowdsourcing is largely enabled by technology however, it seems remiss not to look at the technological side of the picture too.

Suffice to say, there are many kinds of technologies on the market aimed at helping organisations crowdsource. The kind of tool you look for will largely depend upon the need you have for it. For instance, when you’re searching for new ideas, your needs will be markedly different to when you’re looking for feedback and collaboration on those ideas.

Lets look at the main stages.

The search phase

At this stage, your project will have received various ideas and submissions, hopefully according to the specification laid out in your brief. Next you will have to sift through them to determine the best ones. This will typically involve a search process to enable a shortlist to be created for further assessment.

So, at this stage, your platform will need to provide facilities for both monitoring what is submitted, but also for supporting participants in the idea creation process. This could be done via a simple discussion forum style facility that will allow participants to engage and support one another.

The collaboration phase

Whilst you may think that in a crowdsourcing competition there is little collaboration between participants, there is nonetheless many different ways that people can participate in a project. Therefore it’s crucial that your platform offers the facility for participants to provide feedback on each others designs and ideas.

There are many social collaboration platforms on the market, so finding the best one for your particular project should not be too challenging, but the important thing is to allow participants to keep track of what they’re doing, and on issues that are important to them.

The monitoring phase

It probably sounds obvious, but nonetheless, it’s crucial that you have the ability to monitor the contributions that are coming in. It’s fairly standard for most platforms to provide statistics and analytics, but it’s important that you can do more than simply count entries.

Your community managers will need for instance to be able to compare particular participants and their contributions. This is especially important when doing things such as fighting fraud (in voting for instance), but can also be useful in un-earthing informal partnerships between participants.

It’s also important to give participants the ability to report unsuitable content and behaviour, with peer filtering offering you the ability to filter feedback based upon the reputation of those providing it.

Permissions

It is very likely that you will want to limit access to certain features and areas of your process based upon the permissions granted to particular users and groups. You may for instance limit who can submit ideas, or even who can vote on the submissions of others.

Whatever your criteria, if filtering content and access to it is something that you feel you may require, it’s important to have a platform that supports this.

Facilities for core members

Part of the filtering process might be a dedicated facility for participants identified as core to the project. These could be either insiders or outsiders (or a combination of the two), but it might be deemed a requirement to have somewhere for heavy users to engage.

There are many platforms out there that can help to support your crowdsourcing, but hopefully this short guide will give you an idea of some of the features you may wish to consider in your own project.