Numerous organizations have needs existing staffing and service/solution provider business models are not able to address. However, SourcePanel, a 2-year-old startup based in Portland, Ore., is demonstrating online platform models can open up new ways of meeting those demands.

SourcePanel enables midsize organizations to farm out their relatively small-scale, but high-impact, IT problems and requirements to vetted, specialized, small technical services firms (having anywhere from one to 140 employees). Through the platform, client organizations can present their project and engage the appropriate technical services firm, organize the project to deliver the solution supported by specialized automated workflows and collaboration capabilities, and ultimately sign off and pay the solution provider.

The Problem

IT has never been so vital to the functioning of organizations. And organizations’ systems and infrastructures have never been so heterogeneous and quickly changing — often requiring different kinds of specialized expertise to address problems or pursue improvements. Midsize organizations have graduated to this world, but lack the capacity of larger enterprises to deal with the related challenges. That’s where SourcePanel comes in.

In starting SourcePanel, “We realized early that just a freelance marketplace platform was not the solution, but rather we needed a more robust platform that would connect organizations with small highly qualified, specialized technical services firms (that could more reliably deliver quality solutions than a freelancer on-the-fly),” explains company co-founder and CEO John Robb. “The platform also had to go well beyond the marketplace/matching function and provide efficient, specialized, highly automated project workflows and collaboration capabilities. The market needed a platform to enable specific solutions, not locate and engage qualified workers.”

The Solution

SourcePanel provides solutions across a number of areas of specialization, including applications, hardware, security, storage, compliance, web development, programming, networking, marketing, cloud/SaaS and virtualization.

Many of the client’s projects are relatively small, but have high positive impact for the client organization. In the past, a midsize organization would not be able to address these projects because it lacked in-house expertise and traditional staffing approaches were too costly. Correspondingly, accomplished specialized technical services firms would typically view such small, “one-off ” projects as unprofitable and not worth pursuing. With SourcePanel’s approach, these kinds of needs can be economically viable projects for both organizations and small technical service firms.

The Buzz

Innovative intermediaries like SourcePanel continue to demonstrate that online platform-based models can create new market segments and value.