The Benefits of a Hackathon

23 Apr 2018, MOQdigital Marketing


Hackathon (3)

If you tuned in last week, you would know that MOQdigital hosted our inaugural Hackathon. It was a fantastic weekend for all involved, and we believe that Hackathons are a fantastic way for companies to generate new ideas, collaborate, and get in touch with their corporate mission statement.

While the word ‘Hackathon’ is derived from the word ‘Marathon’, these events are typically very short – usually between 24 and 48 hours, with the longest generally being a week. The aim is to start from scratch and develop a working prototype by the time the hackathon is complete. Teams are typically comprised of programmers, designers, developers, and project managers, all working together to develop a working software product. Hackathons can be used by companies to:

  • Inspire creativity in employees
  • Improve collaboration and communication across departments
  • Develop new and innovative ideas
  • Act as a productive team-building exercise

A hackathon event usually begins with an introduction where a topic is introduced for participants. Teams then collaborate and pitch ideas, before beginning work on their product. Some of the significant benefits of a Hackathon for companies include:

  1. Communication. Hackathons bring people together and force them to work in a like-minded environment. This can help facilitate a sense of community within a company, and open avenues for communication across departments.
  2. Collaboration: Teams are put into an intense work situation, often with new people, forcing them to find new ways to communicate as they strive toward their goal. This can strengthen team bonds, and improve how employees approach teamwork.
  3. Innovate: Hackathons are problem-solving environments, and they encourage the development – and sharing – of new ideas. With teams from different fields, with different ideas and problem-solving techniques can innovate how companies approach tasks, paving the way for new innovation and ideas.
  4. Creation: Ideas in Hackathons are not relegated to Hackathons. The main aim is to solve a problem by building a product, and these products can be used in the ‘real world’  - either to showcase what does work, or to serve as an example about what doesn’t.

Hackathon results are scored by judges, and for MOQdigital, our scoring system mirrored many of our company values. This meant that teams had to design their project around a MOQdigital mindset and encouraging workplace ideas. We scored teams on five factors:

  1. Have an Innovative Idea: If you want to impress the judges with your solution, the concept has to be right. The more imaginative the idea, the more points. Think about who the customer is and how the idea will bring value to them
  2. Don't fall behind: Use the attached estimating tool to support a design session and a sprint planning ceremony, and use the Jira board to track your work as you go. Have regular stand-ups to review progress and remove blockers. These tools are there to make sure you know where you are so you do not have 5 hours work to do in the last 20 minutes.
  3. Work as a Team: Don’t let one person carry the weight. Find ways to help even if your specific skills are not needed until another task is complete. Be efficient, don’t waste a second, and don’t be afraid to learn and fail. Remember the MOQ values 
  • Be the first to put up your hand 
  • Be concerned about the welfare of others 
  • Have a growth mindset 
  • Be open, honest and polite 
  • We are fixers; we find a way 
  1. Build something you are proud of: The main goal of the Hackathon is to build a working solution that you as a team feel proud of. Don’t worry about impressing us – impress yourselves and you will be on the right track. Remember this is a demo, not production software, focus on features and wow value – you won’t be marked down if you don’t have good code coverage (though you will get extra points for CI and CD so remember that if one of you has some down time waiting for other tasks to be completed). 
  2. Pitch it to the judges: Don’t fall at the last hurdle. Make sure you create some material to pitch your idea to the judges that sell them on the concept. There is a PowerPoint template attached – you must create a presentation to show the judges. You will have 20 minutes to pitch your solution and give a demo to the judges and the other team

If you want to find out more about how to improve your workplace – get in touch with a MOQdigital consultant! We can help you discover new ways to innovate and inspire your employees and make the most out of your digital investments. Do business today to be better tomorrow – contact us today!

You can read Part I and Part II of our Inaugural Hackathon at MOQdigital insights!