GovIntranet gets hacked

Before the Christmas break, I was invited to attend the BPDTS intranet hackathon in Manchester.

BPDTS held an intranet hackathon in Manchester. There were three challenges that had been nominated for the day and it was interesting to see the different approaches that the hack teams took.

The day as a whole was very well organised. The venue was superb, with good facilities and a tasty lunchtime spread. I was there in an advisory role as a GovIntranet developer, and spent the day facilitating and giving hints and tips to the hack teams.

Back at Agento HQ, we had created a webserver for the BPDTS team members to use for the day, with three instances of GovIntranet using anonymised data from the live intranet.

The three challenges were formulated as a result of feedback from staff. The introduction session at the start of the hack event presented clear evidence by way of user stories, highlighting expected benefits and methods of measuring success. The three challenges were:

  1. Wonderwall 2.0 – integrate the Wonderwall with staff profiles, allowing people to see how many mentions they have received, and introduce badges with qualifying criteria for achieving higher levels.
  2. Mentor/Mentee matching – allow mentors to hook up with mentees using algorithms to match people based on skills, requirements and location.
  3. Book-sharing – create an online library for staff to check out, review and return books.

At the hackathon, participants divided into three teams to design and prototype their solutions.

Wonderwall 2.0

The team working on the Wonderwall challenge dived straight in to the WordPress theme templates and it was a joy to watch them start to code using PHP and WordPress functions. This was a team of developers, but PHP was not their first language. They got a working prototype running on the hack server by editing appropriate theme templates and scripts.

The idea behind this challenge was to leverage the data that is already available from the Wonderwall to create management information reports and display aggregated highlights on the user profile.

The team also wanted to build in some gamification on the wall. Their prototype showed bronze, silver and gold achievement levels for each of the wall categories.

High fives

Mentor matching

The mentor/mentee team were not developers, but they were obviously used to working with content management systems. This team got straight to work by trying out various WordPress plugins and widgets to meet the challenge. No coding required.

Mentor matching process

By installing BuddyPress, the team extended the user profile fields with a new set of “skills” options. Users would be able to update their skills and preferences for finding a mentor/mentee in their profile. This created the basis for the data that would be used for the matching process.

After trying several plugins, the team settled on one to provide the matching algorithm and another to send Slack notifications.

By the end of the day, the team had a working prototype that they were able to demonstrate in their final presentation.

Book sharing

The team working on the book sharing app didn’t code or install plugins on the server. They started by mapping out user journeys and process flows on paper, designing the user experience first. The final presentation from this team was a set of wireframes showing well thought through screen layouts.

And the winner…

The panel of judges awarded the Wonderwall team as the winner of the hackathon, committing to move this project to the next stage of development.

This is a great example of using GovIntranet as a base system and extending as requirements emerge from users. And it’s not only the hackathon teams that win; we’ll be able to incorporate developments from these hackathon ideas into other client intranets. I’ve had similar requests from other clients with staff wanting to get a copy of their wall mentions to take to their  performance reviews, and from managers wanting wall entry reports. It’s uplifting to see how well the Wonderwall templates are being received within organisations.

Souvenir takeaway from the hackathon.
Souvenir takeaway from the hackathon.

Read more on the BPDTS blog:


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