How to run a successful codefest

Putting a group of software developers together to build prototypes requires planning; here’s how

In many ways a codefest is like a conference – like minded people getting together for a couple of days with a schedule of various activities. All the logistics of running such an event need to be covered and it’s preferable to get a professional events co-ordinator to handle catering, venue, seating, agenda etc. While the goal of a conference is information and sales, a codefest will produce multiple, working software products and there are aspects beyond conferencing that need to be in place. [1 of 5 paragraphs]

A large bank in South Africa recently ran a successful codefest for 130 coders and awarded prizes to the top prototypes through a voting and judging process. The teams submitted ideas before the event and assembled the right skills to ensure successful completion during the 24 hour coding marathon. You will also need to make sure you have all the technology that the programmers require – from high capacity wifi to code libraries, APIs and access to various applications and databases. [2/5]

A codefest could also accelerate existing projects, address customer suggestions or simply let teams come up with whatever they want to do. Google pioneered this concept with 20% time out of which came Gmail and Adsense. Perhaps you already have a programme that incentivises innovation – a codefest is a useful catalyst for developing the IT enablers of these innovations.[3/5]

At the end of a codefest is usually a judging process which can take the form of the popular Dragon’s Den, where the top teams present or “pitch” their working prototypes to a panel of judges. These people should be successful tech-innovators as they will need to grill the teams on how the solutions were built in such a short time and what benefits can be achieved from using them. [4/5]

Coders love coding so for many, the intrinsic reward is already in their participation but you could could also give out awards, either from sponsors or funded through the costs of the event. There are many guides worth reading to get more information, try this one and just make it happen. A codefest will energise your IT teams and the solutions that are implemented afterwards could  change the way you do business or better yet – even disrupt your industry. [5/5]

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