The power of the crowd is changing the way we do things and is being applied to lots of areas including sourcing design services.
It has been around for a while within the graphic design industry, where it has come to be known as 'Spec' work, short form for any work done on a speculative basis without a fee being agreed.
To explain the process in a nutshell, what happens is a client posts a brief for a logo or website design or some other design scenario with a set deadline and 'prize' money. Designers then submit their interpretations of the brief and the client then selects their favourite. Perhaps two or three designers will get paid, but a lot will not get anything for their time.
The client gets lots of design ideas but only pays for the one they like, saving a lot of time and money. There are however a lot of professional designers who feel it is exploiting hard-working designers and is damaging the industry.
Whether the process is right or wrong, it works for graphic design projects in that every single designer will have very different interpretations of the clients brief, and so the submissions are extremely varied, providing the client with lots of great inspiration and hopefully a winning solution.
Recently we have noticed a couple of websites that are offering CAD design services in this format, and indeed we have been contacted about it at theCADcube.
The process is the same as before, a 'client' posts a brief for their CAD project, with a set submission deadline and how much 'prize' money the selected designer(s) will earn. Even aside from the professional issues of exploitation that are being discussed in the graphic design industry, we just don't see how it can work with CAD design due to the fixed parameters the designer will almost always have to work within. Surely you are just going to end up with a load of designs that look pretty much the same?
Our big issue is, what are we using to decide between the submissions? If you have five CAD technicians all capable of the same standards of work how do you pick between them? Normally it would be based on price, or timescale or perhaps locality or personality. But if you have a fixed price, never meet any of them as they are working remotely, and they all submit the completed work to your deadline, what do you use to pick between them? They have all completed the same brief, in the same timescale and for the same price?!
We have seen requests for floor plans to be simply altered or extruded into a 3D plan. There cannot be different interpretations of this. Our opinion is that this sort of work should not be carried out in this 'try before you buy' format.
We think a lot of CAD designers are going to waste a lot of time submitting entries to these 'competitions' and will soon get fed up of other designs being selected over theirs without a valid reason. Perhaps there are certain areas of CAD design where it could be used, but we don't think the current format works.
What do you think? Is this is a good way of finding CAD work as a designer? Are clients taking advantage of designers?