CAF's 2016 Hackathon: an all-round success

Last month we ran our 2016 Hackathon. Promising fantastic prizes, crazy ideas and of course, a ridiculous lack of sleep all-round. Here are the highlights of this insanity.

Two full days of blood, sweat and beers

Seven teams rose to the CAF Hackathon challenge and signed up: WolfPack, Buckfinch, Headless Chickens, Fancy Bears, Wild Card*, Bae Caught Me Hackin’ and the Damned United.

The programme for the Hackathon was as follows:

Kickoff Dinner

We kicked off the Hackathon with a team-bonding dinner on the Thursday evening. Following team introductions, creativity and competitiveness flowed free and wild. Ground-breaking ideas were captured on napkins, plans were hatched for inevitable success and headaches were guaranteed for the next day.


After the fun of the night before, things got serious on Friday. Everyone got focused and started hacking away, proudly demonstrating their allegiances.

The Hackathon organisers did a stellar job, supplying the teams with delicious food.

And thanks to the various Product Owners and Project Managers everyone was constantly fuelled with strong, fresh coffee - productivity was through the roof!

… but then crashed massively (for some) at beer o’clock…

Some teams strategically ignored the temptation of beers and remained focused on their objective. This willpower proved a turning point, separating the best from the rest in the competition.


The next day some people found it quite hard to wake up. Some participants' commitment to their team was nothing short of heroic, hacking for countless hours and eventually catching a few minutes nap wherever they fell - under a desk or on a bean bag.

All teams managed to muster one last burst of energy on Saturday morning for the final push. Submission time was strictly 1.30pm and miraculously all teams met that deadline.

Following this, there was just 30 minutes to mentally rehearse the pitches and it was presentation time.

During an entertaining round of presentations we heard what each team had been working on:

Team Buckfinch developed a CAF asset tracker integrating with Trello and aiming to automate as much as possible the tracking of IT assets (test devices, employee laptops, etc…) currently managed by CAF’s Support Department

Team Headless Chickens built a JIRA / Zendesk integration with Slack to help employees keep track of their To Do list and the work they completed earlier in the week

Team Fancy Bears hacked together a Big brother face & emotion tracker to fight employee lateness, including a Slack integration to generate good old office banter

Team Wild Card* developed an Internet of Things solution combining room sound sensors, an integration with Google Calendar and LED displays to keep employees informed of meeting rooms’ status at all times

Team Bae Caught Me Hackin! built a real time retrospective board to make the process of Sprint retros more fun and efficient for all participants

Team WolfPack developed a mobile game: “Scalable Behaviour: The Game!” - the game is full of inside jokes about the daily high’s and low’s of a CAF employee

Team Damned United tested the accuracy of a Face Recognition API by Kairos, pushing the API to the limit with cunning edge cases

All participants were then invited to vote for their preferred team (no jury panel here!) and results were quickly announced. The winning team was... Bae Caught Me Hackin! with their real time retrospective board.

The Winning Hack

Here’s a sneak peak at their ‘MetroRetro’ tool - an incredible feat of delivery in such a short space of time.

Everyone found MetroRetro fun and engaging. Most importantly, it’s working! Since the Hackathon took place, several CAF project teams have already been able to use MetroRetro to complete their Sprint Retros. The tool has yet to crash, even with 10s of users updating the board simultaneously. It’s also worth noting that the MetroRetro export function saves Project Managers the ordeal of writing-up the retro output after the session - generating precious time savings. The tool is publicly available here, if you would like to give it a try.


The 2016 CAF Hackathon was an all-round success: organisers did a great job, participants had loads of fun, and each team was immensely proud of their respective output. CAF has already benefitted from some of the solutions that were built - both MetroRetro and the IoT Room Occupancy solutions are now being used, making CAF a more efficient and fun business. 

We are all looking forward to the next CAF Hackathon. Watch this space…