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passbrains was launched as a crowdsourced software testing solution by the PASS Group, less than a year ago, in January 2012. And as Mayank Mittal, who works in international business development and strategic management for PASS recently told me, in its first nine months passbrains built up a base of around 10,000 users and over two thousand professional testers spread around sixty countries. Within a year, the company has also expanded the platform to include recruitment and crowd consulting services. Now PASS is expanding passbrains to serve large enterprises, providing them a comprehensive and real time workforce management solution.
First, here's how Mittal described the passbrains crowdsource testing offerings:
"We are doing a lot of software validations for compatibility, functionality, performance, etc... and usability validations where we allow our test users to come back with feedback or proposed enhancements on application features, and we take it back to the application owners and software developers. This is one of the cool features of crowd testing, because in-house testing never gives access to real time users, so crowd testing enables companies to ensure that major usability issues get discovered before the release."
In addition, passbrains also provides content validation, language and localization testing and checking of search results, among other related services.
A new feature that has naturally evolved with its expanding tester base is recruitment services. Passbrains' platform does performance ratings and competency profiling for testers, which helps in project mapping, on-boarding, and payment modeling, and Mittal says this information is now beginning to be used by companies for recruiting freelancers for continuous engagements through passbrains.
"(The service can be used by customers) to recruit from the portal – testers who have a proven skill set, who have performed well, who have worked on similar products - maybe as a contractor or as a full time employee. This also motivates the crowd team to actually be more focused and have more incentive to perform beyond the normal money that they get."
Another interesting feature in passbrains is something called Crowd Consult, which Mittal described this way:
"Crowd Consult facilitates real-time knowledge networking by utilizing the crowd expertise, so when people post a question, task or problem it gets assigned to identified subject matter experts in the crowd community, and we get a response, a professional response -- not just like a Google response -- within hours."
In the process, Crowd Consult also rates the experts based on their response quality for future reference, further streamlining the whole question and answer process. Once identified, subject matter experts can further continue supporting the user through Crowd Consult. Users tend to continue using these experts, who can be later contacted directly by the users, according to Mittal:
"this real time know-how networking approach is revolutionary in the way it connects talent and provides the power of thousands of brains to solve a problem."
But passbrains has designs on more than just improving application quality and knowledge management. It's looking to provide a comprehensive workforce management solution to large organizations by developing a private crowd community for their employees. Mittal says that would address one major problem for many enterprises:
"At present large enterprises have multiple platforms available -- one for managing workforce, another one for managing projects and bench, and another for innovation. There’s a knowledge management portal, there’s a social networking forum, there’s a portal for question and answer sessions, another for product development, and for management reporting.
There are diverse platforms, and these platforms don’t talk to each other. There’s no connectivity or synchronicity. There’s no network there. It's very difficult for a new employee to find the right forum and reach out to the right contact, it's very difficult for management to track the employees across platforms, it's very difficult for projects to identify resources with appropriate skills, and it's challenging to manage performance in such a dynamic environment."
Mittal says that passbrains will solve this problem by providing a real time platform for resource management, resulting in better workforce collaboration, employee motivation and organizational communication. He adds that the organization using the new platform will have easy access to real time information on employee competency, availability, performance and subject expertise, improving bench management, expediting resource identification and on-boarding for projects while improving utilization.
"Real-time knowledge networking will expedite problem solving by facilitating global access to experts and also support collaborative innovation, product development & solution design. Employees will have access and visibility across the organization globally. Performance management can be more effective with traceability across multiple initiatives."
PASS is in discussions with large global organizations with tens of thousands of IT employees about the potential for implementing and customizing the platform for their workforce management. Mittal adds that the Crowd Consult feature has already been successfully implemented at a large Swiss bank for a group involving around 3,000 users and could soon be expanded for use across the entire organization.