Hackathons: How to implement them in the company?

Technology departments are full of challenges. On a daily basis, the teams of IT face unexpected problems, incidents, and requests that require an intelligent methodology to get out well at the end of the day. And in this respect, hackathons are resources of innovation and creativity that can maximize the productivity of your employees.


The numbers reflect the effectiveness of hackathons. In 2016, 3,460 of these events were held around the world and then doubled in 2017. Statistics also show that employees from different areas can easily integrate into this practice: more than 50% of the participants are staff from the areas of project management, design, and marketing; this facilitates the creation of new approaches for the development of companies.

Here, we lay out everything you need to organize your own in-house hackathon.

Hackathons, a way to innovate in the company

Hackathon or codefest is an event focused on solving problems and creating new products. It uses a Design Sprint framework, so it is especially useful for optimizing technological processes, improving software and launching new applications.

In other words, a hackathon is a resource to achieve goals in record time, while giving participants the opportunity to acquire new knowledge and include disruptive ideas within the organization.

Besides, the execution of this type of events improves the relations between workers, partners and  collaborators; as well as reduces the labor stress and reconfigures the corporate practices for the development of services and products.

Design Sprint approach

The Design Sprint (DS) is a product development methodology created by Google Ventures. Originally, the process takes 5 days and 40 hours to design viable prototypes with potential in marketplace.

organizar hackathons

However, the methodology applied to hackathons is more variable in terms of time and objectives. In this case, companies should prioritize the principles of the SD, which are: Discovery, development of solutions, testing and measurement of results.

In this way, in-house hackathons tend to target a particular issue or problem; this is done in order to bring together all levels of expertise to execute agile strategies.

Unlike conventional Design Sprint workshops, you must establish from the beginning of the activity all the objectives, challenges and tools available.

How to organize a hackathon?

In most cases, hackathons are part of training workshops and motivational events within companies. However, it is entirely feasible to adapt the methodology and organize micro marathons in a specific department without the support of a larger event.

In this way, support, development and UX teams can adopt this practice as a way of “thinking out of the box”, optimize their operational processes and eliminate work-related boredom. In this sense, project managers can schedule marathons throughout the year.

Checklist for a hackathon in the tech department

These are the key points you should keep in mind when organizing a codefest in the organization:

  • Planning

You must establish the concept, topic, rules and all the details related to the event. Regardless of the size of the hackathon, it is necessary to determine the distribution of computers, goals, and workflows.

Note that each participant must receive the event guidelines in advance. Studying this document beforehand will avoid interruptions and confusion during the development of the solution.

  • Standardization and timing

Consider the protocols. It is important to delimit the roles, work flows, dynamics and tools to be used.

That is to say, if the activity includes collaboration of several departments, you will have to assign specific goals for each area, which implies a solution of different levels.

On the other hand, depending on the complexity of the problem, the marathon can extend from 3 to 7 days.

We recommend a session of frequently asked questions to solve doubts such as: the programming language to use or support applications.

  • Place and logistics

You must create an environment for creativity, learning, and competitiveness. For this reason, it is advisable to leave the company’s common places or decorate the office to brighten up the event.

Similarly, you must ensure the comfort of the participants, so try to establish breaks, snacks and even have special guests to guide your teams.

If the hackathon is small, that is, it takes place in a single department; you can motivate the activity with the visit of a partner or a key figure in the organization as the CEO or technology manager.

  • Rewards

Awarding prizes is a useful strategy to encourage productivity, participation and the creation of effective solutions. For this reason, you must make sure that the winners of the event acquire their deserved recognition. The system of rewards is very varied, you can offer scholarships or certifications, give away devices and even assign extra free days.

Tools for teamwork

Having the right tools is essential to streamline the processes of any enterprise hackathon. For this reason, it is recommended that your teams work in centralized and intuitive platforms; so they can have an integral vision of the problem.

Sometimes, organizations implement Bring Your Own Device policies to create friendly environments; this helps to see the hackathon as a celebration beyond a laborious task.

In the same way, collaboration software are very useful resources. They improve interdepartmental workflows and are the perfect assistants when it comes to achieving goals between two or more people.

At GB Advisors we have Freshconnect, a software designed for teamwork within the IT department and other areas of the company. With the support of this contextual solution, tech and sales teams can get results in record time;  without overlooking any detail. Contact us.

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