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Ecosystem Team Hackathon 2020: Collaboration on Automation

As an avid techie, there are few things I love more than a good hackathon. Thankfully they’re a staple at Xero. In December 2020, I was excited to help organise and take part in our ecosystem team annual hackathon. We invited our team members around the world to create and collaborate for our theme ‘Automation — how can we automate tasks humans do now?’.

There are always small changes and improvements that we can bring to our day-to-day work. So what better theme to spark ideas, create inspiration and share perspectives on the tools and processes we use day in and day out.

As hackathons are a perfect opportunity to bring people together, we encouraged teams to form across regions and functions, as well as outside of their usual pods. This meant we could get product, marketing, comms, developers and more all working together.

2020 was an interesting year, a key feature for Xero being the shift to working 100% online for extended periods of time. In NZ we have been fortunate to return to the office, however, we know that this hasn’t been the case for everyone. With that in mind, we made sure that people could join in virtually, no matter where they were.

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Team Synergise — automation for API Tech Support

The 10 teams worked on some pretty exciting ideas. Here’s a few of my favourites: automating the collation of SDK metrics, implementing new commands to help our API tech support team and improving validation for app marketplace logos.

All teams had a full day to work on their projects. Additionally, they were required to create a 3 minute presentation to showcase their project to the judges the following day. The judging criteria was based on:

  • #Human hours saved — How much time (and money) will your hack save
  • Creativity — Bringing the ‘wow’ factor to solve a problem
  • Usability — Usefulness of the product to solve a problem
  • Technicality — The technology used to create the solution
  • Scalability — Potential for future upgrades to improve upon the solution
  • Business value — Solving a problem while aligning to the business goals
  • Shippability — How ready is it for production usage
  • Bonus points — Teams formed across physical locations and / or time zones

It was exciting to watch all the presentations and see how their hard work paid off. I was so impressed by all of the hard work everyone put in. There were some fantastic ideas and I personally enjoyed seeing the innovative ideas come to life. Can’t wait for the next one!

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Team Ahoy — onboarding automation & winners of the 2020 hackatho

Congratulations to the winning team — Team Ahoy. They worked on a tool to enhance our onboarding processes. Having a tool like this enables us to save time so we can get staff up and running faster than ever, particularly important in an ever growing team. I personally enjoyed seeing them interact with a variety of APIs and talking about the developer experience of them, something which I think helps us stay inspired when building our own products.

If you and your teams ever do a hackathon, using the Xero API, make sure you tag us so we can see all your cool work.

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