Sertifi Hosted A Hackathon!
Our developers work day in and day out to make sure our customers have an excellent product to work smarter and finalize agreements faster. In doing that, though, they also have a lot of great ideas for what could make the product even better that aren't on our roadmap or necessarily even something our customers would notice. To capture these ideas in a constructive yet fun way, Stephan Nagy, Sertifi’s CTO, hosted a hackathon at Sertifi Headquarters for members of the infrastructure, operations, and engineering teams to participate in.
“I had met everybody informally over (Microsoft) Teams and that was not an ideal setting for a first group meeting. So, I decided that during my first visit to the office, I wanted some sort of activity to engage as much of the team as possible and use it as a way to find out what people were passionate about, what they thought some of their weaknesses were, and give them the opportunity to identify and work towards solving some of those challenges,” he said.
The rules were as follows:
- Members of the development and infrastructure teams were to break into teams of 2-5.
- Each team had to pick something to focus on that they were passionate about within the Sertifi platform.
- Each team had to produce a problem statement and formulate an idea that worked towards solving that problem.
- Teams were to present their problem statement and product to the broader team to vote for a winner.
With one day for ideation and implementation and one day for presentation, participants didn’t waste any time forming teams and fleshing out project ideas on how they could make the Sertifi platform as functional and easy to use as possible. Stephan was immediately encouraged by how quickly teams came together to choose topics and get down to business. Many groups embraced the event as an opportunity to compile each team’s expertise by teaming up with participants who they did not work with daily allowing them to cover as much ground as possible while also getting to know new people.
“This type of activity is important because you get to know your colleagues, you get to know your program, you get to know other people’s day to day, and how other teams operate.” participant and Front End Developer, Jim Asta shared.
Stephan also noticed that teams chose to focus on pain points related to existing features rather than developing something new. This made the infrastructure, operations, and engineering teams’ dedication to the product and its users clear. Compared to hackathons he had hosted prior to working at Seritfi, Stephan was extremely impressed with the amount of encouragement, innovative ideas, teamwork, and commitment participants exhibited during the event and is something he wants to encourage in the future.
“Working with other teams and getting to learn something new allowed us to look at things in a different way and see if any changes needed to be made to increase efficiency.” Jim recalled. “It might be hard to hear, but it’s an important part of developing software – recognizing there is no limit for creativity when developing a product.”
Stephan noted that the voting portion of the hackathon served as another way to bring teams together and allow participants to support one another. By taking the time to learn about the professional passions of the other teams, participants were able to draw insights on how to improve product functionality based on how each team operates. For example, the project that took second place came from the operations team but was voted on by software engineers. The engineering team saw a need for the solution but didn’t realize it was an issue until it was explained from an engineer’s point of view. Similarly, the project that received the most votes from everyone involved was a product whose group was represented by the three teams participating in the event, illustrating each team’s patience and willingness to mindfully develop the best product possible.
The enablement of teamwork and creativity ended up paying off in more ways than one. Stephan had structured the hackathon around the work each team does daily to ensure actionable results meant to uncover something that could be improved upon or findings that informed decisions going forward. But that wasn’t his end goal for the event.
“I didn’t care about the output of the hackathon. I cared more about the engagement the individuals had with one another and the exercise of standing up and presenting their work in front of everyone.” Stephan explained. “It’s a significant part of a software engineer’s career development. I think it’s very important to take advantage of the times when your audience is passionate about the same thing you are and not have to worry about being judged based on your delivery – it's also an outlet for creativity.”
RECOMMENDED BLOG POST
National Techies Day 2022
We sat down with one of Sertifi’s senior software engineers, Shaun Cruz, to find out why he entered the tech industry, learn about some of the defining moments of his career, and collect any advice he may have for students who are considering a career in tech.