A Copilot is a TopCoder Member who manages the TopCoder process for a customer in order to deliver a requested asset. For example, a customer may ask to build a website. A Copilot will work with that customer to agree on a plan and pricing to build that website and then they would manage the process using the TopCoder Platform to deliver the website back to the customer.
Copilots will self-select for projects from the following page: Active Copilot Opportunities
The opportunities vary in scope and disciplines. Openings can be for an entire project from Conceptualization through Deployment. Others can be for an assembly or small set of two or three components or a prototype conversion. The predominant task for all Copilot positions is execution of the TopCoder Methodology as it relates to the successful completion of the project.
By submitting to a Copilot Opportunity, you are essentially requesting to work with the customer on a particular project. It is then up to the customer to select you as their Copilot.
Key Copilot Responsibilities
- Communicate with customers.
- Orchestrate projects and contests for customers.
- Maintain a high level of professionalism.
- Create game plans (timeline and budget estimates). Immediately after you become the Copilot for a project you must enter the Game Plan in Cockpit. Enter as much as you can foresee, and update it at least once per week so the customer and you always have a current view of the timeline and cost.
- Create contest specs and manage spec reviews.
- Setup and launch contests
- Monitor/Manage contests as they are in progress, including questions in the forums, issuing VM's, etc.
- Validating final submissions
- Coordinating merge tasks and the final delivery of assets to the customer.
- Working with the customer team to meet deployment schedules.
- Working with the customer on environment setup and potential roadblocks. Recommend and execute plans to overcome roadblocks.
Want to become a Copilot?
TopCoder Copilots perform a very important role in the TopCoder Platform and process, so we take the position very seriously. Much like qualifying for the review boards, in order to become a copilot you must meet certain criteria. That criteria is as follows:
- Submitted a passing submission to at least 3 different types of TopCoder contests in the past 12 months. Algorithm contests do not count towards the 3 contests.
- Must have a rating in at least 1 contest type of green or better.
- Been on the review board in the past 12 months for any contest type and have not been suspended from any review board during that same period.
- Have not been suspended from the Copilot Pool in the past 6 months.
Email email@example.com if you have additional questions or feel you have qualified to be a Copilot and would like to request to be added.
Studio copilots have different criteria and must go through screening and training in order to be a Studio copilot. Please visit this page for more information and to go through a simple screening questionnaire. Only Studio copilots may launch competitions on the Studio platform.
The Copilot Opportunity Competition will have several phases:
Contest Posting (Registration)
Project sponsors post the project details via http://www.topcoder.com/direct. Only copilots are permitted to view private details. Any other member can see a public overview of the project. Copilots can read through the documentation and decide if they want to submit a game plan and strategy for executing the project.
In order to register and gain access to the opportunity details, each Copilot must have already agreed to the following terms:
- Standard Terms for TopCoder Competitions v1.0
- TopCoder Assignment Document 2.0
- TopCoder Master Services Agreement
Copilot Opportunities will appear on the member portal, where copilots can register, read/download the information and submit.
The Submission phase consists of competing Copilots creating Game Plans and strategy documents that answer the question of "How will you execute this project within the TopCoder Platform?". The creation of the Game Plans and strategy is based on the description and any associated information provided by the project sponsor in the Copilot Opportunity. It is expected, and encouraged, that the participating Copilots will ask questions within the Copilot Opportunity forum to learn more about the customer's expectations. It is also expected that copilots apply as a team (Studio and Software) if the project will require any front-end UI work.
Game Plan Template
Strategy Document TEMPLATE
Strategy Document SAMPLE
It is likely that you will have very little information about the entirety of the project. You should do your best to think through your approach to running the project and be sure to clearly state any assumptions, risks and limitations. It is expected that the Game Plans for larger and/or unclear projects will need to evolve and be refactored once the project begins.
Yes, you should include cost estimates in your submissions. Include it at the end of your strategy document. It doesn't need to be exact since in a lot of cases you can't be precise with the given information, but qualify the estimate you are providing. For example, you might want to give a low, medium, and high estimate that are each qualified with some assumptions. It's also ok to ask the customer about budget and timeline expectations in the forum. If you can be exact, then you should. You can get average cost and contest duration metrics on the Dashboard of Cockpit.
Be honest and realistic with your proposals. It won't help anybody to submit a plan that has unattainable goals. The project sponsors need to have realistic estimates. If you don't feel the goals, timelines, demands, etc. of the project are realistic it is acceptable (and desired) to state your concerns in the forum.
There is no formal review for Copilot Opportunities. The customer will use Cockpit to select the copilot. The customer can award up to 2 prizes (first and second place). Once you are selected as the Copilot, Cockpit will assign you permissions to start creating contests in Cockpit.
Ratings and reliability are currently not being tracked. The final scores set in Online Review are simply for determining a winner and will not be used to calculate any performance metrics. If we change that in the future, we will announce it and start with fresh stats.
I was selected as the Copilot, now what should I do?
Once the customer selects you as the Copilot via Cockpit, you will automatically be assigned permission to the project in Cockpit. The first thing you should do is start communicating with the customer. You should use the project forum as your primary communication tool, which you'll see a link to in Cockpit on the Project Dashboard. This forum is private to the project. Make sure you are on the same page with the customer in terms of expectations, scope, etc. If the game plan has not been setup in Cockpit yet, proceed and enter the contests that you're agreeing to run. Entering the contests you plan to run is VERY IMPORTANT. Please make sure you update the Game Plan with any changes at least once per week. Also make sure you have agreed on a budget with the customer and that the budget is set in Cockpit. Finally, add Project Milestones to indicate when you can the customer have agreed to deliver certain releases or checkpoints.
The customer will always have a budget. It is important to communicate with them to make sure they are aware of the budget and any possible overruns. Before running a set of contests, be sure the customer has agreed to the budget required for those contests to run. Make sure the budget is set in Cockpit and the Game Plan is up to date. This will let you and the customer have complete visibility into timeline and cost expectations.
How are Copilots Paid?
Copilots are paid by TopCoder. Typical engagements have payments structured on a per contest basis. Payments for each contest are triggered upon the successful completion of each contest. Each Copilot opportunity should specify the specific payment terms if they differ from the default.
Here are the default payment rates per contest type.
| Contest Type
|| Copilot Payment
|| $600 (Smaller contests might be lower, but would first be agreed on with the customer.)
| Conceptualization/Specification/Architecture/Assembly/UI Prototype/RIA Build/Bug Hunts
| Component Design/Component Development/Testing Suites/Testing Scenarios
| Bug Races
Where can I get more help?
- Check the TopCoder Help Center
- Most customers are working with a TopCoder Platform Manager or Account Manager. They can help you get acquainted with the customer and process.
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org for any system/process support.
- Studio copilots have access to a private copilot forum and should post questions there.