Hackathon – a word used and understood in the tech space, however outside of that it conjures up images of rogue computer experts using their wits to break into top-secret networks and steal the data.
Hackathon is not a dirty word, the reality is quite a bit different; the smarts and technical know-how of the people taking part are just as impressive. Hackathons at CreditorWatch have taken over as a popular lockdown activity and for the first time has been held over Zoom, further challenging the devs teams’ problem solving and creative thinking.
The CreditorWatch ‘hackathons’ are held three times a year and give our engineering team the opportunity to experiment with fresh, creative ideas and dive into different ways of thinking, as well as providing a bit of change from day-today tasks. The event has been occurring since 2018 and participation isn’t compulsory but encouraged.
The most recent hackathon took place at the end of June, with a highlight being the development of a ‘slack bot’ for the messaging app, Slack. Arun Baghel, Engineering Team Leader at CreditorWatch says it was an “interesting project that was devised to add a lot of functionality to the commonly used application”. The idea was first discussed at the start of the year and was further developed during the hackathon to perform tasks and find information in conversations faster and more efficiently.
Hackathons allow members of the engineering team to expand their perspectives and think outside the box to see technical or non-technical advances from an alternate, critical thinking perspective. Most of the team members approach the 2.5-day events as a fun break from their usual tasks allowing them to explore interesting ideas they maybe have stumbled across on YouTube, read on a website or thought of themselves – there is no specific criteria.
The CreditorWatch hackathons are unique because they are based on individual criteria and are not limited to a theme or topic – there is more freedom for the engineers to explore new possibilities, new information technologies, be creative and bring their own ideas to fruition than many other companies offer.
The CreditorWatch hackathons are “more of a stress buster rather than a hunt for new ideas” according Arun. They are an opportunity for the group to relax, take a break from coding and skill up in other areas and if they get a cool new product/feature out of it, it is an added bonus. The engineering team is given an entire week per year to expand their knowledge and creative problem solving skills.
There is always freedom to create different groups to focus on an idea or the option to work solo. Generally, the bigger the group, the more exciting the creative process is as there is a wider variety of perspectives contributing.
This initiative ties in with CreditorWatch’s unique ‘Great Place to Work’ scheme which focuses on giving the engineering team the freedom to test creative ideas, experiment with new technologies and bring their own ideas to fruition.