Crowdtesting with testCloud – Managing the Challenges of a Crowdsourcing Intermediary

Crowdtesting with testCloudA novel business concept enabled by the Internet is explored in this case written by Jan Marco Leimeister, University of St. Gallen, and Shkodran Zogaj and Ulrich Bretschneider, University of Kassel. Crowdsourcing – a word coined by combining ‘crowd’ and ‘outsourcing’ – is defined by testCloud, the company featured in this case, as ‘using the collective intelligence of many’ or the ‘wisdom of many’ to carry out software testing. This case follows the testCloud team as it considers going beyond simple website testing to use crowdsourcing for more complex projects such as specialised business software. Jan Marco explains the background to the case and the challenges he faced in writing it.

We work intensively with various Stock50 companies and their IT Departments on research projects. Digitization of their companies leads to more software development projects and we see many struggling with increased time pressures and complexity. On the other hand, this offers a fast-growing market for start-ups and service companies who offer software development services based on crowdsourcing models. This is an entirely new way of organising work in software development and can lead to impressive results with respect to timescales, cost and quality.

Direct approach

We approached the company, testCloud, directly as part of a research project and offered them access to our analytical and conceptual skills. Working on the case has proven beneficial for the company as it revealed various new insights and reflections for management. It also helped us to significantly improve our research project.

The case begins with a conversation between testCloud’s Chief Sales Officer and a potential customer because we wanted to show how decision-makers think and provide the reader with a real-world situation to identify with. The audience is exposed to the challenges and issues that testCloud’s start-up team had to face and grapple with. We hope this catches the reader’s interest by conveying the rich context of the case and the dynamics involved.

New and different

Explaining such a new and different concept to business students in a comprehensive way is very challenging. After having worked with testCloud for quite a while we developed a rich and deep understanding of the problems and issues facing everyone involved, including customers, crowd workers and service providers. We built on this to develop a set of clear learning objectives, which we used as the starting point for writing the case. Company representatives checked the first version of our case and we then taught it three times before refining it and adapting the teaching note.

word cloudThe thrill of the digital economy

We hope that the topic itself, the way we have structured the case, and the rich picture we have tried to draw will convey the thrill of the digital economy and highlight new ways to work digitally and create value. Furthermore, the case emphasises the opportunities available to start-ups in the area of crowdsourcing as well as in software development in general.

The case is designed for postgraduate or advanced undergraduate students studying information systems and business administration, particularly business or information sciences. It can also be used in practice-oriented MBA courses and executive courses where participants analyse and solve real-world business problems. Its aim is to provide lecturers with a multi-faceted case that enables students to understand crowdsourcing and especially the role of crowdsourcing intermediaries and the numerous challenges they have to face. 

Wider relevance

Software testing is one area within software development where crowdsourcing is growing and it is a promising model for many other application developments. Also, beyond software development, we see a number of areas where crowdsourcing is gaining attention and growing as a new way of organising work and creating value in a digital economy. We have a research competence centre at the Institute of Information Management, University of St. Gallen, dedicated to this exciting new research field and we invite researchers and companies to join us on this interesting journey.

Case details

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Case: Crowdtesting with testCloud – Managing the Challenges of a Crowdsourcing Intermediary

Jan Marco Leimeister
University of St. Gallen
Shkodran Zogaj and Ulrich Bretschneider
University of Kassel
Ref 313-212-1
Also available:
Teaching note

Ref 313-212-8

About the authors

Jan Marco Leimeister is Professor of Management Information Systems at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland. 

Shkodran Zoga is a Research Associate at the University of Kassel, Germany.

Ulrich Bretschneider Ulrich Bretschneider is a Post-Doctoral Researcher at the University of Kassel, Germany.

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