Last November, CYDERES hosted its first-ever internal code-a-thon and the response was overwhelmingly positive — almost the entire Engineering team participated and had a great time doing it. Don’t know what a code-a-thon is? In its simplest form, a code-a-thon (or hackathon) is friends and colleagues collaborating toward a defined goal. You probably are familiar with at least one famous outcome of an internal hackathon: Facebook’s like button.

Our talented developers and engineers enjoyed getting to stretch their skills and hang out together and, for that, they can thank CYDERES Director of Engineering Cassandra Varvel. We recently asked Cassandra a few questions about the event she organized with help from others in the organization.

Keep reading to learn more about the 2021 CYDERES Code-a-Thon and plans for the next one.

Q: What is a code-a-thon?

A: A code-a-thon is a two-day team-building event that brings individuals together to work collaboratively on an idea and/or build something in 24 hours without interruption that benefits the org. It can be an idea they’ve always wanted to work on or maybe something that interests them but hasn’t yet been prioritized for the company.

Q: Why did you host one here at CYDERES?

A: First, to build team unity – it gives the team an opportunity to spend time together and build relationships while flexing collaboration skills. Second, it allows the team to come up with an idea and then spend an entire day focused on that idea with no distractions or other initiatives to get in the way. The work produced is exceptional. Third, it allows the team to be recognized for their hard work and creativity, to showcase their incredible ideas and skills, and to be rewarded for it.

Q: Have you participated in a code-a-thon before?

A: I had not, however many of our Engineering team members had, so they had lots of great ideas and do’s and don’ts to provide. Researching how other organizations have had success in their code-a-thons helped as well.

Q: What are the benefits of working collaboratively this way?

A: Day-to-day, team members’ roles are already defined and work is chosen by priority for the organization. A code-a-thon allows individuals to be innovative and work on something that motivates and excites them. A lot of these ideas end up bringing great value to the organization. One of the awesome parts about it is that groups are often formed between individuals who don’t work together daily. This allows for fresh perspective and new ideas and discussion, as well as the opportunity to build relationships with members from other teams.

Q: What were the parameters and timeline?

A: Our code-a-thon was a two-day event. Leading up to the event, teams were asked to submit their ideas and member names. The first day was the “24-hour” coding portion where teams were able to discuss their ideas or build them out. During that day, we had snacks, meals delivered, a happy hour, and repetitive 90’s music (we eventually switched the Pandora station but it made for good laughs). The second day, the teams spent time presenting their ideas to the CYDERES executive leadership team who voted in the following categories: Business Value, Innovation, and Delivery and Enthusiasm. The top three winning teams picked from an awesome pool of prizes, graciously purchased by our organization.

Q: What were the winning projects?

A: All three winners are in the works for the organization. SaaSy is on our product roadmap, Action Figures is almost ready to be deployed, and Jira Jenie is in the works too. All three initiatives have had attention since the code-a-thon, and we’re super excited to work on them.

  • SaaSy – Ryan Williams, Jesse Reichel, John Irle
    Allows for self-service deployments of our custom data integrations.
  • Action Figures – Alex Harder, Blake Kobel, Troy Robertson
    A client-facing dashboard for displaying event and escalated case data to our clients.
  • Jira Jenie – Michelle Artist
    Templating and automated responses within our issue tracking platform.

Q: Any plans for another code-a-thon?

A: We wanted to test drive our first code-a-thon by keeping it within the Engineering group, but, after seeing its success, I would love to extend it out to our entire organization. It would be a great opportunity for even further cross-team relationship building and collaboration. There were lots of laughs throughout the event and tons of great memories made. Everyone would like to have another code-a-thon.

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