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Tip: Constructing Your Timeline

Schedule and Stages - Tips & Best Practices

When does the competition open? When are submissions due? When will the winner(s) be announced? These are all key questions that determine how long your competition should run. If you have a special event that you will want to announce the winner(s) at, use that date and work backwards from there. If there aren’t any events you want to tie to your crowdsourcing project, it allows for a bit more flexibility. Below are typical timeframes for each of the stages:

Stage Recommended Timeframe Tip
Pre-Registration (optional)  

2 weeks to 1 month

Allow enough time to generate news and excitement around the competition, but don’t drag it on for too long or else people may lose interest.

Enter to Submission Deadline

60 to 90 days (Ideation)

1 year or more (Proof of Concept)
Take into consideration what you’re asking competitors to submit when determining this timeframe. Also, it’s always best to extend your deadline rather than have the competition run for too long and once again, run the risk of competitors losing interest.
Judging 3 weeks to 1 month This is to give you enough time to narrow down the total number of submissions received to the highest quality ones you want to pass on to your judging panel. Your judges are probably busy people as well, so give them ample time to effectively evaluate and score their assigned entries.
Voting (optional) 2 to 3 weeks Give the voting finalists and yourself enough time to promote this stage. It also gives the voters themselves time to cast their vote when it’s convenient for them.
Winner Announcement 2 to 3 weeks after Judging (or Voting) If you decide to have the winner(s) fill out due diligence and/or payment forms, this allows enough time for them to be completed and for you to review for any issues.

There are optional stages you can weave into your schedule as well. Some of those options include:

  • A registration deadline: only allow competitors to sign up for a set amount of time.
  • Qualifying round: this would require competitors to submit an entry on a designated date prior to the final submission deadline to prove they are qualified to move on (mainly for proof of concept projects and is a deliverable related to the end goal). It also allows you to give feedback to competitors and keep them engaged.
  • Leaderboard update: this is usually utilized during Proof of Concept competitions. If you require competitors to submit multiple entries throughout the competition, you can provide updates on the crowdsourcing page to let everyone following it know who is in the lead. This is not an applicable stage to all crowdsourcing projects, but it can be a great way to intrinsically drive competition and keep those only following the project engaged throughout.