ET Marlabs Hackathon: Testing Mettle, Celebrating Talent

  • Posted by: Arpita Bhawal

There’s something electric about working in a young company populated by a bunch of talented and passionate people who are willing to challenge themselves every day for their clients. The ET Marlabs brand promise, Client Bliss, is not a mirage; it is constantly tested, activated and nurtured by its team of Salesforce experts. But what happens when the team engages in an activity that isn’t a part of some client project?

A Hackathon happens! So, what’s that all about?

The Technical Council of ET Marlabs, an internal body dedicated to getting the best out of all areas related to technical advancement and training, says, “The Hackathon is a fun, inspiring and innovative event which brings people together as teams to achieve remarkable results with fast paced development. It also teaches people how to handle the pressure of not having enough time. This was our first Hackathon which proved that as a company, we are fully equipped to deliver “Client Bliss” at any pace that’s set for us. The team did an extraordinary job, and the overall competition was tough.”

ETians – Abhilash Kuntar, Siva Krishna Reddy, Keshab Maity, Vijaya Naik and Vivek Deepak – members of the Technical Council, organized the first Bi-Annual Hackathon of the company on September 11, 2015. The aim of the Hackathon is to develop reusable components or Accelerators that could help the company to deliver faster on projects. Eventually, if an Accelerator can be productized, then it could also be listed in the AppExchange.

Nine energised teams were put together for this purpose from different groups; a total of 55 participants, branded themselves with interesting names like Achiever’s Force, App Studio, Crypto, ET Snipers, Full Stack Ninjas, Platform Geeks, Smart Labours, The Pack, and Ta T.D.E. tde tde (yes, that’s a name referring to music!). Each team had a Team Lead and 5 to 6 members comprising of two Developers, maximum of two Senior Developers, Consultant or a Tester and a Manager.

Out of a list of eight challenges, the teams had to select one and start developing a solution.

The challenges were diverse and interesting, giving the Salesforce developers ample scope to play around with their experience from past projects while adding nuances to the development during the competition:

1. New Performance Evaluation System: Enables the org to have a better PE and feedback system

2. Search Engine: A dynamic search engine for

3. Calendar Integrated: Provide a 360 degree of all tasks, events, holidays etc. to a logged-in User

4. Universal Maps: Helps User to check business distribution across the world and status of transaction data

5. Quick Enterprise Sales App: A configurable mobile app for the Sales org

6. Check-in App: Provide attendance and easy notification system to org

7. Super Clone: Solution to clone any parent and child record

8. Recruitment App: A complete, package-able, Recruitment solution

On 11 September, 2015, at 6.00 PM, Friday, the Hackathon began.

The teams were super charged and excited. They made preparations to stay up all night and work, pepped up with food and plenty of moral support. The toughest part of the challenge was the limited time – 24-hours – within which they had to do the entire project: Designing a solution and doing the complete documentation for it.

The next evening, a Saturday, at 5.00 PM the Hackathon concluded. The quality of the solutions developed by the amazing teams were noteworthy. When the results were published on October 9, 2015, the Winner was announced: Achiever’s Force!

Achiever’s Force worked on the “Quick Enterprise Sales App” challenge. They developed an outstanding mobile app which could be configured from the setup itself, which means they wouldn’t have to touch the code in the developed mobile app. If you want to add a new field or modify a mobile screen, you don’t have to worry about changing the code. To add the new field is akin to an administrative piece of work.

But what’s the trick of cracking the Hackathon without sleep and plenty of work?

Achiever’s Force says, “We approached the hackathon in two parts. On the first day, we spent two hours identifying which challenge we would choose. After some consideration and brainstorming, we distilled the known and unknowns to achieve our plan for another hour. In the next four hours, we jumped into development, the toughest hours with hardly any sleep. On the second day, we worked steadily to complete the entire set of deliverables by 6.00 PM. Our greatest learning through the entire 24-hour period was that we could bring out the best of ourselves under pressure because of our focus and optimism. Yes, we had an extraordinary win because of our extraordinary efforts.”

Crypto, the Runners Up, tackled the “Recruitment App” challenge. They became the Runners Up because not only did they complete 95% of the challenge, the App was packaged so neatly that it could be deployed on any org instantly. When asked why Crypto chose this challenge, the team said, “We wanted to handle a challenge that had a broader use-case and didn’t focus on only one aspect of a problem. We took each aspect of the Recruitment App into consideration, which we developed and then added our own ideas to enhance it.”

Many companies have similar events which celebrate the “spirit of the doer” – despite all odds – and also innovation in not just the solutions that are being designed, but also in the way it is executed to maximize on time and talent.

The ET Marlabs Hackathon had seven other awards in other categories to recognize this very spirit of innovation in the event. Awards were given for Coding Best Practices (Smart Labours), Documentation (Crypto and Achiever’s Force), Solution Approach (Achiever’s Force), UI/UX (Full Stack Ninjas), Innovation (ET Snipers), Presentation (Ta T.D.E. tde tde) and Runners Up. (Crypto).

Already, ETians are looking forward to the next one. Stay tuned!

Author: Arpita Bhawal

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