NGO Hackathon #2

In the middle of August we did NGO Hackathon #2. We did the first one two years ago and got pretty good feedback, so we decided to repeat and change the format at the same time.

Last time we had three NGOs and multiple teams who compete to deliver the best solution. This time we had just one NGO and bunch of people working together to deliver one solution. Cooperation not competion this time. And in 24 hours we more or less delivered what should be delivered.

Kick off

What are the takeaways for next edition?


Originally we thought about doing it during Spring, but then Covid came. Autumn looked too far away so we decided to do in during the Summer time, which definitely limit the number of people who could attend, but at the end it wasn’t problem, as we got just the right number of people we needed.

Timing is also about those 24 hours and how to plan it. We started in the afternoon and run till afternoon the second day and I would probably change this next time – I could see how people completely lost energy 1am the latest and as we tried to work the whole night we didn’t really delivered much the second day. Also they had to left their job ealier the first day, so not really win for them. At the same time starting in the morning and finish in the evening would not provide enough time. Tricky decision.


Get the right mix of people was our main challenge. Actually it took a while to get the „right“ NGO, as I wanted implementation which will connect developers, consultants and junior admins and that isn’t the typical implementation. Plus they had to be willing to wait till the hackathon.

At one moment it look like we don’t have enough (skilled) developers and then suddently the NGO changed their requirements and we just had enough.

Yeah, we had fun

The feedback we got was also about little promotion of the event and we could definitely do better here, at the same time we had enough people and I’m not really sure we could use any more.

I completely forgot to let them introduce each other, something I do during every user group and somehow completely forgot this time. With 15 people around they were able to do it on their own, but I still don’t understand how that happened. And we don’t have any group photo (but here I can blame the photographer).

Project Management

Plan was great – introduction of the NGO and their needs, split into groups, prepare questions, slots for questions, implementation, first demo and feedback (for each area), finishing, final demo, training and party.

Plans are to be changed, so we broke them right after the introduction. I wanted the first thing to be done to be a list of tasks by each team, so they can all see what needs to be done, learn what other „roles“ need to do on such project and see the progress. For some reason this didn’t materialise (except for one team) and I didn’t push for it.

Discussion about data model

It kind of wasn’t missing (the teams knew what to do), but was really missing from the knowledge transfer perspective.

We didn’t do any demos during the day and slots for questions got mixed, but I didn’t miss these too much. Meaning from the client perspective, but it would be great – again – for the knowledge transfer.

Consultation during the day


This is kind of part of project management, but probably worth mentioning extra.

We spent sometime with the organisation before the event to speak about what they need, clarify some questions, tell them what they need to prepare, etc.

Requirements sharing

I didn’t do any summary from it on purpose, I wanted them to present it during the day, just be ready for all the questions and have answers.

It also means that I wasn’t able to catch a few things, which complicated the process later on, the most visible one are email alerts. They prepared emails A – G (when we started the analysis they had just A – D) but I didn’t realise that each of those emails exist at least in two variants (he/she) and some in even more (the maximum is six variants of one email and we are lucky, because in Czech we can have 8 variants of this email). Annoying to configure them, annoying to put all the logic in the system with not that strong benefits from it.

The presentation of needs could be more professional. I wanted to have it the way we did it, but agree that some reharsal with the NGO before and polishing of the presentation would be beneficial.

Plus let the attendees know in advance what we will build, which was something we kept under the cover. This one is with a question – they could prepare some questions/ideas before at the same time they might go completely in wrong direction.


We finished the day with user training, where I sit just with the people from NGO and no one else made it here (I didn’t tell anyone else). Mistake again, they could benefit from it, see what they built over the night, get the feeling of accomplishment.

Knowledge share

My main point for this event was the sharing. Sharing the knowledge, so people know what it takes, how much they (don’t) know, how they should approach different things.

Working and sharing

The second part was sharing about the people, get to know them better.

It could be better. I already wrote how we „failed“ in knowledge transfer, we could share it more. We also didn’t really have breaks for chat, it was incredible, but the people really worked all the time.


What will be next? I definitely want to repeat it and it looks like the people are happy to help next time as well. Plus we have – thanks to the missing marketing – a lot of other people we might be able to persuade and get onboard.

Who know, maybe autumn will bring some nice NGO who wants Salesforce and have their implementation interesting enough to put there so many people. And then we will need to learn from these mistake and make the event even better. Crossing my fingers!

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