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Hackathons are a win-win

Posted by nsimha Employee Oct 23, 2014

Earlier this week a few of us from ServiceNow had the privilege of participating in a hackathon put together by one of our customers for their employees.  Fueled by  ServiceNow Platform, a lot of Red Bull and other caffeinated beverages it ran from Monday morning through Tuesday afternoon.  There were over 90 participants organized into 14 teams across the globe and each team built a complete app by the end of the event.  These apps demonstrated how the power of the platform combined with creativity can quickly deliver tremendous business value.  Here is a sampling of the applications built in less than two days...

  • Timecard management application to eliminate several manual processes
  • Integration between ServiceNow and Microsoft Outlook to do automated delegation
  • Applications to support DevOps
  • Mobile applications to support customized notifications and approvals


Hackathons are a great way to unleash creativity, foster team work and learn.  We see this every year at our CreateNow Hackathons at Knowledge and we are seeing an increasing number of customers hold internal hackathons. Holding a hackathon takes some planning but it is not too hard. Here are a few tips to make it successful:

  • Time to plan: Give yourself at least six weeks, more if you are part of a large organization and/or the team are geographically distributed
  • Have a volunteer team to help organize: There are lot of details to take care of and having colleagues to help is crucial.
  • Market the event: Get the word out in multiple ways - internal collaboration site, e-mail, posters etc..  Brand it with a cool catchy theme.
  • Setup a simple registration page: built on ServiceNow of course :-).
  • Get an executive sponsor: Some one who can help you market the event as well as approve the time and budget required
  • Have a easy way for participants to ask questions and get help: for this event we setup a private group on community and had both ServiceNow and customer representatives monitor it.
  • Give each team their own instance for the duration of the hackathon: we at ServiceNow can help you with that.
  • Decide on judging criteria, the judges and prizes: Pick judges who get the spirit of a hackathon and will also encourage participation.
  • Publish the results after the event - highlight what was done and encourage the teams to share their experience with their peers


Finally, have fun!  Most of us are in this field since we like technology and enjoy building stuff - hackathons are a great way to do that.  Participants can build things they like freed from any constraints and the management sees what is possible - a true win win!   Go ahead and put together a hackathon at your company and let us know how we can help.

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