Developer Insights

Why Your Business Needs to Consider a Hackathon

One simple tool for boosting innovation

Michael Chally | April 6, 2016

How do you keep innovating and keep providing new solutions to your customers? This is one of Jama’s core values and a question we ask ourselves every day.

One tool we have found useful to support this value is providing our Product Development team a hackathon. The scope and focus of hackathons vary. At Jama, it’s a 2 day event when developers, product managers, testers and user experience designers collaborate intensively on a project. Some of our hackathon participants create projects that help them learn new technologies, others focus on an infrastructure challenge, and developing solutions that help us build software more efficiently or with higher quality. Still, others focus on solving user problems in creative ways.

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Recently, we had a hackathon session with projects that fell into each of those categories. Several of the projects showed how Jama can integrate with existing applications, while others demonstrated how new applications could complement Jama.

At the end of the hackathon the teams met and presented their projects to the broader organization. These projects were judged by the following criteria:

  • Innovation
  • Business Value
  • User Experience
  • Use of Jama Platform / API
  • Team Collaboration
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Our judges included members of development, product, services and sales. I am always excited to see the creativity and thoughtfulness that goes into all of the hackathon projects created by our teams, but as the head of user experience I was especially impressed with the focus put on users and their needs.

There is always a heated debate among the judges and this hackathon was no exception. In fact, we ended up with two first prizes. The top two teams created projects that were both valuable and very different from each other. Interestingly, both projects leveraged our REST API. One used the API to solve an important user problem, while the other showed how we could use the API to be more efficient in our release process.

Events like the hackathon are always a great time to refocus, learn, be creative, collaborate and blow off a little steam. I would highly recommend that every software (or hardware) organization give it a try. If you are interested in participating in a public hackathon there are hundreds that are just a web search away and who knows, Jama may have an open one in the future.

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