10 Steps to Outsource Polygon Annotation
Most of us understand what a polygon is.
According to byjus.com, “a polygon is a two-dimensional geometric figure that has a finite number of sides. The sides of a polygon are made of straight line segments connected to each other end to end. The line segments of a polygon are called sides or edges. The point where two line segments meet is called vertex or corners, henceforth an angle is formed. An example of a polygon is a triangle with three sides.”
Annotation also should be a well understood word. Collinsdictionary.com defines annotation as “a note that is added to a text or diagram, often in order to explain it.”
However, polygon annotation, formed by bringing the two together, might not be as widely understood a term.
Polygon annotation is a technique for identifying an object or shape in a two-dimensional image which can be understood by a computer through ‘computer vision.’
Why is polygon annotation needed?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) is the simple answer.
Much has been made of smart machines with AI taking over the world. Turns out machines are not really that smart. Smart humans are training machines to learn to see and think like them so that they can perform some of the tasks human beings have always done.
ML is the input provided to a computer to make it more intelligent. ML consists of large sets of data that are enriched in a way that a computer can ‘see’ it through computer vision, and learn about it. For a computer an image is just data; a random collection of pixels. A car in a picture is, again, just a collection of pixels. But when a human being draws a line around the car and the combined information is fed to the computer, it begins to understand that that particular shape is a car. This is repeated hundreds and millions of times enabling the software to start developing algorithms based on which it can identify the next image that is not marked by human hand.
Polygon annotation is one technique through which objects are marked out by drawing a tight polygon around them. Converting raw data into enriched data allows a machine to learn what humans intuitively know, and use the training to continue to apply the learned rules to future data that is unmarked.
Polygon annotation solutions make this possible.
When you outsource polygon annotation, a sequence of activities is initiated that, done correctly, has the potential to deliver significant benefits in the form of reliable AI engines. Done incorrectly, it has the potential to unleash mayhem through an incompetent AI engine.
This makes the choice of partner an important decision, assuming outsourcing will be the preferred choice. However, what often gets overlooked is how the entire set of activities, starting from the need for polygon annotation services, through to the point when it starts running like a well-oiled machine, is conceptualised and set up. The selection of a partner is embedded within this sequence.
Outlined here is a recommended sequence that will guide you from the point where you have started thinking that you would like to contract a vendor, through to the end point where they have started delivering.
1. Establish the need for polygon annotation
An outsourcing vendor who provides polygon annotation services to your business, is like an extended part of your organisation, delivering a key component within your entire process or value chain. The process, or value chain, is yours, a detail which should not be forgotten in the focus on getting the most suitable vendor. The vendor is secondary to your process. Of primary importance is for you to establish the need for the process which, as a subsequent step, if it adds value, will be outsourced.
After all, you will not take on a vendor only because he is the best in the world for polygon annotation. You will take him on if your business has a need for polygon annotation and the vendor meets your criteria for selection, whether he is the best in the world or not.
Hence, first establish your business process. Does your business need Polygon annotation or Bounding Box annotation? Or is it Text annotation that will meet your requirements? Once your process has been established, figure out which parts it makes sense to outsource to the BPO company.
2. Build internal consensus on strategy
Once the process has been established will come the need to decide on whether to outsource or do the process inhouse.
Even though it is common to seek outsourced support for polygon annotation solutions, it is still a decision that needs to be made by each outsourcer for themselves. It is an important decision. Outsourcing to a data annotation company is often considered when the process is voluminous, which means it is likely to be resource-hungry. The process is being done despite being resource-hungry because it has value for your company.
Whichever way we look, it is an important decision. A discussion on the subject will help in bringing consensus on the issue within your company. Moreover, many outsourcing arrangements end up being fractious because the outsourcer might have contracted the process out without either building agreement on the subject or without adequate deliberation on expectations from it.
This process of brainstorming and consultations should enable you to identify:
- Reasons for seeking a partner; benefit articulation/ quantification
- Key personnel (in your team) responsible for the engagement
- Success and failure criteria
3. Get the word out
Once it is clear that outsourcing is the way forward, all efforts need to be made to ensure that your requirement of a partner for polygon annotation solutions be made known widely enough to have interested parties knocking on your door. Otherwise, having work on offer but no takers for it could be an embarrassing situation for a business. In a business situation, having potential vendors apply to you for workplaces you in a better negotiating position compared to when you are asking them to take up your work. You may want to leverage one of the many channels available to businesses, such as:
- Letting it be known in the business networks and trade circles that you are a part of.
- Using online directories and Internet search engines to unearth possible partners and communicating the message to them.
- Issuing a Request for Proposal (RFP) is the process preferred by large enterprises. An RFP is a standardised proposal form where you specify the information you are looking for.
- Reaching out directly to vendors who may be providing similar services to competitors.
Whichever of the above, or combination, you choose, the process should involve a clear communication on your requirements like an overview of the project, description of the work required, data and file types, output expected, volumes, staff capability and profile requirements, timelines and any other relevant information. The purpose of this is to ensure that only genuinely interested parties apply and you don’t have to sift through large numbers who applied based on incorrect assumptions.
4. Develop criteria for selection of vendor
A parallel exercise will be to draw up an evaluation process. In other words, a set of criteria that will be used to separate the grain from the chaff, and zero in on the partner you believe is most suitable for your polygon annotation solutions requirement.
If you have not created one for your, the following could be a great starting point for you:
Relevant prior experience
While absence of relevant prior experience may not necessarily be adequate to weed the vendor out, its presence will definitely deliver benefits. It would, for instance, facilitate a quick start to the project instead of a slow ramp. In addition, the requirement of client resources at the start will reduce.
Polygon annotation services have been delivered by oWorkers to several clients over their eight years of existence. The continuing and growing relationships are proof of our delivery capability. Many of our clients are referenceable.
Quality and accuracy
When you wish to outsource polygon annotation, superior quality and accuracy, provided consistently, will be the best advertisement for a vendor.
oWorkers follows a strict QA (Quality Assurance) and QC (Quality Control) process that is independent of the delivery process. The Quality team represents the client and seeks to eliminate errors and poor quality before the client’s processes are impacted. Our Quality team is also the eyes and ears of our senior management. We have consistently delivered over 98% accuracy.
Speed and turnaround
The sooner the partner can produce output, the faster your processes can run, and the more you can produce. Speed is an essential requirement.
With our three global centers and 24×7 operations, oWorkers is well placed to deliver rapidly. In most cases, oWorkers will turn around today’s work even before you begin work the next morning.
When you outsource polygon annotation, or anything else, as long as it is commercial engagement between two parties, pricing will always be a part of the contract. In a B2B contract, generally it will be a unique basket that is purchased, for which the price will also be unique, and negotiated. Of course, lower will be better, except where it seems that it will not be sustainable for the vendor.
Our clients save upto 80% over their current costs when they outsource to us. We are able to offer a choice of per hour or per output unit pricing, with our transparent pricing mechanism.
In the current context of globalisation and companies doing business around the world, an important consideration for global businesses as well as for ones with aspirations, is to take on a vendor who can support multiple popular languages.
Over 22 languages are supported across three global centers of oWorkers, positioning it uniquely to serve needs of companies, both global and local in any region.
Technology and Data Security
Along with Data Security, which is almost joined at the hip, Technology forms the backbone of every BPO business. In fact, technology is the reason for the existence of the BPO business in its present global shape.
When you outsource polygon annotation to oWorkers, we leverage the best technology for through our partnership with leading providers. We are also GDPR compliant and ISO (27001 and 9001) certified.
Scalability and access to human resources
Apart from technology, people is the other critical component that powers the BPO business, as most BPO processing is, by design, a human activity. If it could have been automated, it would have been. Key parameters, such as attrition and ability to hire for peaks and troughs, should be critically examined when you seek to outsource polygon annotation.
oWorkers possesses the flexibility to ramp up and ramp down, by a hundred headcount in 48 hours, particularly for Computer Vision projects. We work with employees, not contract staff or freelancers, which gives us flexibility in deployment. Our attrition can be considered as best-in-class and our employees consistently rank us 4.6/ 5 or better on Glassdoor.
Financial health and management support
Everything needs money. Financial stress of a company can rapidly percolate down to its operating units, impairing performance. Hence financial stability is an important consideration, as is compliance with legal requirements wherever it operates.
oWorkers has been a consistently profitable enterprise. It operates as a locally registered company in each of the three current locations, pays local and social taxes for its employees and is deeply rooted in the communities it operates in.
5. Shortlist vendors
In the ideal world, we would like to do a detailed evaluation for each applicant for polygon annotation services. However, in the real world, this is not possible. We have to balance the effort with the reward from it. There could be frivolous applications, there could be incorrect or incomplete applications, there could be clearly unsuitable applications. One does not need to do a more detailed analysis to weed them out at this stage, as it will allow you to better focus on the relevant few than if you were to continue with all.
Based on the detailed checklist for evaluation, if you have a lot of applications, you should funnel down the list to a few that seem most suitable.
Of course, if you don’t get responses, or only a few unsuitable responses, you may need to go back to the drawing board and review your communication and the terms you have broadcast. Perhaps you have been unrealistic in your expectations and vendors did not find it worthwhile to apply.
6. Detailed discussion, evaluation and finalisation
This is when the detailed discussions will happen and both parties will be required to share information. In most B2B cases, this will be preceded by the execution of a Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA) which binds both parties to treating the information received as confidential and enjoins them to ensure it is handled with the utmost care. This is the stage where the potential vendor will make a case for being selected, scope of services will be discussed, including indicative pricing. This is one of the key phases of the process.
Eventually you will decide on the most suitable partner and issue a Letter of Intent. This will be after detailed discussions, site visits, interacting with staff members, exploring combinations, negotiating on price and service levels. Contractual terms, which would have been already discussed during the previous stage, would now be formalised. The others interested and shortlisted vendors will be retained as backups if this partnership falls through for some reason.
7. Finalise terms and sign contract
The formal agreement to outsource polygon annotation is executed based on mutually acceptable terms and conditions that would have been discussed during the phase of detailed discussions.
Of course, there could be some cases of disagreement on the overarching legal clauses which may need to be sorted out between the legal teams or senior management. In most cases, once the operational details have been agreed, the legal terms will generally be ironed out.
8. Implementation of Project Plan
A high-level project plan would have already been discussed and agreed at the stage of detailed discussions and contracting. Once the contract is signed, the Project Plan or Implementation Plan is now detailed out to include all micro activities and tasks and responsibilities, so that the broad dates and milestones discussed earlier are met and the engagement reaches a point which is called ‘steady state’ or Business as Usual (BAU) by different businesses and handed over from the Project Team to the Operations team, to be handled, in a way of speaking, ‘from there to eternity.’
9. Technology, training, hiring and support
The Project Management team will give the go-ahead to the various vendor teams to include the new project in their support plans. This could include hiring. This could include identification of a physical workspace. This could involve identification of the trainers and QAs. This could involve initiating the process for a technical handshake with the client’s team.
The client will arrange the initial training as well as make arrangements for the technical handshake from their side.
10. Begin work, test, ramp and then go full throttle
Work begins. If volumes are large, there is a ramp-up generally provided for in the Project Plan. Starting slowly, the work gradually ramps up to handle the agreed volumes, clearing milestones, meeting quality benchmarks., till it reaches the envisaged end state at which point the project team pulls back and lets the operational teams on the two sides take over the engagement.
Note: This is an indicative sequence of steps designed to enable you in achieving your goals when you seek to outsource polygon annotation. Not all steps will be needed in all cases. There could be additional steps in some other cases, like a Trial Run. Some projects may not need any technology integration. The exact sequence should be worked out based on your requirements.