Back to overview

Internal Hackathon

Reading time approx. 7 minutes

Last year, our front-end team organised and successfully ran a two-part hackathon. A hackathon is a collaborative event where a group of people come together in one place and work on a software or hardware project. The goal is to find useful and creative solutions to an existing problem or to produce functional software or hardware products within the given time period. The work phase can last from a few hours to several days.

Initial Situation

Since the daily project routine often leaves little room for side projects, we allow our specialist teams time to drive innovative ideas forward. Our front-end team decided to organise an internal hackathon - our first. In doing so, they were able to benefit from the agility practised in our company and adapt it for their own purposes.


Paul Guigas

Software Engineer

"For me, the hackathon was a welcome change from everyday work. The break with the usual Scrum principles brought a breath of fresh air into the development of the application. We took a very pragmatic approach in which we coordinated more via direct communication rather than relying on processes of the Jira board. All in all, a great experience. 10/10, would do again!"

Planning & Preparations

To form the hackathon team, the frontend team enlisted help from our UXD department as well as one of our Scrum Masters to draw on a broad pool of expertise. However, before the team could dive into the implementation, some important steps had to be taken.


Mosbah Al Habbal

Software Engineer, Team Leader Frontend

"At the beginning I didn't think we would be able to achieve the kind of impressive result that we ended up with, but through good planning, cooperation and motivation we did it. This experiment has benefited me and my team a lot and it was great fun to work with such great people."

In a first workshop, the team decided on a format of 2 separate blocks of 2 days of 8 hours each with a month break in between, including a retrospective. The topic of the hackathon was also decided. After a stimulating discussion, it quickly became clear that a product should be developed that would make everyday work easier for all employees. Under the guidance of one of our Scrum Masters, ideas were presented in an elevator pitch, which were then voted on. The choice fell on the digitalisation of our commuter survey. Since 2019, our Sustainability Guild has been using this survey to determine the annual CO2 consumption of our company.

Then it was on to the requirements analysis, which involved consultation with the stakeholders. The Sustainability Guild was contacted to find out which functionality and reporting features the tool would need to provide. The management was also involved to define the technical constraints for the intended solution.

Based on this information, a digital survey was created to optimise the commuter survey for all employees. It found that the majority of our employees would prefer a web application. The results were evaluated, summarised and prepared for the hackathon.

In a final preparatory meeting, the remaining details for the hackathon were clarified. Questions about the venue and the daily schedule including start, end and lunch were discussed. In the end, the team agreed to hold the hackathon on our premises.

To be able to work as efficiently as possible, the team decided to use the MEAN stack. MEAN stands for the four main technologies that make up the stack: MongoDB, Express, Angular and Node. The key advantage here is that all technologies use only one programming language (JavaScript), which makes development much easier. In addition, initial arrangements were also made with our UXD team and user stories were created in Jira in order to continuously keep an overview of the status of the tasks during the hackathon.

Since it was probably not possible to implement a fully-fledged web application in such a short time, the team decided to develop an MVP (Minimum Viable Product). This is the first minimally functional iteration of a product. An MVP can be very helpful to achieve fast and good results in projects with a tight deadline.


Florian Holzhäuser

Senior User Interface Designer

"For me, the internal hackathon was a great experience. Within a very short time, the team had structured itself in a great way, so that we were able to start doing things quickly. Personally, I found starting on a "green field" a wonderful opportunity to try out certain techniques and understand different solutions."


The hackathon team met punctually at 9 a.m. in one of our offices. The first sketches from the UXD team and the corresponding functions of the web application were presented and discussed together in the group. A database schema was defined collaboratively and then it was time to start programming. As the decision was made in advance to produce sketches rather than finished designs, these were implemented live during the hackathon. After lunch sponsored by the company, the web application was worked on until the early evening hours.


Tina Marschner

User Interface Designer

"It was really fun to work in a very paired down way and to see what is possible in such a short time, despite or even because of some compromises."

The second day also went according to plan for the most part and so we could go into the one-month break with peace of mind. This was used for a retrospective by one of our Scrum Masters. The aim is to identify weaknesses and challenges in the project implementation and to integrate strengths and resources within the project. The goal is to continuously improve cooperation within the team. The identified weaknesses can then be specifically addressed and ironed out to ensure efficient and successful project implementation.

In addition to the many positive things, our hackathon team was also able to take away some suggestions for improvement for the second part of the hackathon. Despite working in close proximity, there was less lively exchange about work and intermediate statuses than initially assumed. For the continuation of the hackathon, it was agreed that regular updates on the work steps would be provided in order to create a continuous overview of the project's progress for all team members. Other points identified in the retrospective were the desire for a clearly defined objective at the beginning of each day and a joint project review after day two.


Carina Landerer

Software Engineer

"I only joined halfway through and was surprised how fast and goal-oriented onboarding is in this context and how quickly you can familiarise yourself. Due to the extremely short communication channels, you were almost immediately in the thick of things."

Armed with the new knowledge, the second part started full of energy. The morning meeting with goal setting by the hackathon leadership ensured an efficient and structured way of working, as did the regular comparison of the work status. About 30 minutes before the end of the hackathon, there was a code stop and the project was evaluated together. The decision to develop an MVP bore fruit and the team had been able to implement all of the functionality it planned.


Christian Röse

Software Engineer

"The hackathon freed us from our usual processes and allowed us to quickly grow together as a team. I was also surprised by the dynamics that unfolded and with which we achieved a lot in a short time."

A continuation is already being planned and our first internal hackathon also made quite a few waves in our company. The success of implementing a web application on an MVP basis within such a short time has also inspired others, and so it seems that employees will soon get together more often in our premises for events of this kind. To be able to detach people with different expertise from their daily project routine and unite them for a longer period of time is a challenge that makes this model so attractive at the same time.