Hackday at Kindred

Wed, 08 Jul, 2020

At Kindred, we are always trying to extend our competence, push ourselves to new limits and to stretch our knowledge boundaries. Hackday is an internal event and which involves 24 hours of dedicated coding on completely separate ideas and challenges that our tech employees have come up with.

Hackday – going global

During Hackday, you find a ‘problem’ that you want to solve, find teammates to solve the ‘problem’ with you within 24 hours and provide a solution. Traditionally, Hackday was open to our Stockholm hub only, but in light of recent times and Kindred’s new remote working arrangements, we opened it up to everyone. Participants from Malta, London and Stockholm came together internationally and worked collectively.

One of the participants was Carl Johan Crafoord, Tech Business Delivery Manager at Kindred based in London. We had the opportunity to ask Carl Johan a couple of questions to get an understanding of what participating in a Hackday is really like. It also turns out that his team, Alfred for Teams, won!

Carl Johan, you were one of the participants in Kindred´s internal Hackday. How did it go?

I haven’t participated before – up until now these Hackdays have been mainly focused on the Stockholm hub, and I’m based in London. But that all changed when we had a chat within the team about the upcoming global Hackday. I realised there was this old, internal chatbot, Alfred, that had sort of disappeared as we moved between collaboration tools. A lot of people had expressed that they missed Alfred, so I thought that could be a good project; bringing something I was familiar with back to life again, with new technology / on modern infrastructure.

Alfred for Teams

Who was in your team, Alfred for Teams?

Besides myself, the rest of the team, who all are located in Stockholm, consisted of:

  • Martin, who helped me with the original chatbot
  • Israel, our Resident Monitoring Expert
  • and Mikael, our cybersecurity wizard

Alfred for Teams: CJ, Mikael, Israel and Martin

When I decided to try and revive the chatbot, I reached out to people in different teams who had mentioned that they missed him. That way we managed to assemble a team of people who were all focused on the same goal.

Can you guide us through the setup?

In preparation, we did an inventory of the old codebase. We identified that we probably wouldn’t be able to use much of it, so started from scratch instead, with a template project. Having the reference was extremely helpful on the day though. We spent some time preparing the infrastructure parts. Having a rough idea of how to demo and showcase what we built before we got started really helped us.

For the actual Hackday, we set up a video call that we kept open the whole day, with people dropping in and out if they needed to focus on something else for a while. We also had someone sharing their screen for most of the time, to showcase what they were doing, or just get a bit of pair/mob programming conversations going.

In it – to win it?

Tell us about the most rewarding part – were you in it to win it? 

I’m not very competitive. But it was fun to work on a project that got so many people excited. We definitely capitalised on the fact that people were missing our old chatbot. In the end, I hope we managed to bring some fun back to the chat and empower others to expand on the skills of the bot.

How did you decide your theme and what was the outcome?

We had an internal list of suggested hackathon themes, and someone had put a wish for reviving the old chatbot there. Since I already had experience with the project from before, it would have been easy for me to tackle than anything else. We managed to get him up and running (not with all the skills from before, but a fair few) and the demo ran great! 

Tips and tricks

 Any tips and tricks that you want to share? 

I guess my most concrete tip would be to be clear on what you want to achieve. Are you creating something new, or improving something that already exists? How will you be able to show what you’ve done in a fun or exciting way? If possible, spend some time exploring the possibilities before the Hackday.

Oh, and of course – have fun! When you notice that one of your teammates is struggling with something or seems to be running low on energy, ask them about it and take a break. There’s always time for a coffee and a chat. Usually, you figure out how to solve the problem while talking about it.