Leaders of established companies often wonder why they can’t innovate as fast as during the startup phase, when energy levels are high and the sky’s the limit.
In truth, it’s a bit like wanting to be a freewheeling kid again, despite the fact that more mature companies have a much different set of responsibilities.
Ease’s 2019 Hackathon—the first ever—was aimed at seeing what would happen when we let our developers play like kids again.
The goal: come up with bold new solutions to our customers’ most pressing problems, and fast. While the event represented a significant investment in time and resources, it’s already paying off big, with surprising results that will soon translate into increased productivity for our customers.
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Hackathon 2019: How It Worked
Most of what our organization does around product development follows a specific, regimented process. For 48 hours, we threw out that process, releasing developers from the traditional restrictions of app development and setting them free to come up with the coolest features they could imagine.
Though hackathon events are often freeform, we put constraints on the competition by framing it around the most common categories of customer problems and requests. The competition included seven teams in total, with three teams each in Ukraine and the U.S. plus one international team with participants from both locations.
It was the company’s first time hosting a hackathon, so we were unsure whether people would step forward with ideas. As we got close to kickoff, however, we were encouraged by the growing buzz around the event.
The competition took place July 9 through July 11, with each team judged in five different categories with a point system that included:
- Customer satisfaction
- Complexity reduction
- Defect-free, working code
- Elegance of solution
The Surprising Results
As a team, we’re always talking about ideas. “Wouldn’t it be cool if…” is a constant refrain at Ease, but it was hard to say whether that would translate into tangible solutions for customers. As it turned out, we were blown away by the creativity of our developers.
The winning submission was a feature centered on supporting customers whose plant workers don’t have email addresses, which complicates login abilities and notifications. Other top submissions included features focused on areas such as:
- Scheduling to improve ease of administration for time off
- Automated reporting outputs in both PDF and print format (now available!)
- Robust dashboarding for plant-wide metrics
- Enhancements to photo upload feature
- Help documentation for users
All of the ideas were truly impressive—so much so that only a single point separated the top three winners. In addition to bragging rights, the first place team won $1000, with $500 awarded to the second place team.
From Ideas to Solutions
So where do we go from here, and when can customers expect to see the new features in Beacon Quality?
Obviously, it’s going to take some time to move ideas through our rigorous product development process. And while we can’t say just yet which ones will survive the gauntlet—or what they will look like in their final state—the good news is that they’re targeted for release sometime in the next three to six months.
As stated previously, the automated reporting outputs in PDF and print format feature has just been released and is now available as well as the corrective actions feature. Another item to look forward to this November is the audit results function.
Not every hackathon delivers these kinds of innovations. It all depends on where your team is at and whether they are truly engaged to begin with. After seeing what our teams came up with, there’s no question that our developers are among the strongest in the industry, and we can’t wait to see where their renewed energy takes us next.
Keep an eye on our release notes in our mobile app and on the desktop version of Beacon Quality to stay up to date with changes.
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