TopCoder has a very unique and different model with respect to the traditional companies. As a senior manager, I would need to build following capabilities: Firstly, build manpower to oversee a community of over 200,000 members and direct the process of competition based software development. The emphasis would be on not managing individuals but managing the process of participation, fostering community participation and community growth. Secondly, focus on building a critical mass of talent and coding capacity to run many competitions and produce solutions for clients at the same time. This would require attracting new members into the community through more challenges and contents, doing online advertising and member development days.
Thirdly, build norms by maintaining the highest standards of contest integrity, transparency and quality. Strictly monitor competitions and maintain consistency of procedures. Fourthly, provide the right governance. Involve the views of the community members as well in the decision making process and treat them as driver along with establishing a fair peer review scoring system. Fifthly, do the right resource allocation. Allocate community resources and control contest participation across the number of contests. This is because unlike traditional firms, Topcoder cannot assign specific people to a task or project. Focus would be on to set the prize amount, duration and timing of contest and the number of competitors. Sixthly, work towards retaining community members and encourage future contest participation.
Supply community members with consistent work stream and prize money. Dedicate significant resources to facilitate forum discussions and encourage members to engage in the community. On the demand side, as a manager, I would need to guide clients through the contest-based software development process, provide suggestions for contest prize amounts, gather feedback between contests and provide project status updates to clients. In case of technical problem, get the problem fixed through the appropriate community members. Manage client expectations and serve as a board for client concerns. Additionally, educate the clients on how to use the TopCoder platform to manage the contest-based software development process themselves.
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