Fusing business and technology teams to make hacking days a competitive weapon


Ever had a great idea for a new product that your company should develop, but then had that sinking feeling that your company's software department could never make it happen? It's common, not only in large companies but small ones as well.

It often seems that since software teams take so long to make tiny changes to existing systems, new products might take an age. In addition, there often isn't an obvious person or group within the company to whom new product ideas should be channelled.

Project initiation processes for new ideas are often convoluted and poorly communicated, and often involve a protracted series of meetings with overwhelming levels of documentation. Ideas can often go stale before a single line of code is written.

The end result is that businesses often find it difficult to develop successful new ideas. This causes intense frustration for those on the business side that may be looking to implement new functionality and products. Those on the IT side also feel frustrated as they feel unable to express their creativity through exploring new ideas and experimenting with new technologies.

So how does a company with existing clients, processes and technology, validate new business ideas quickly? How can they quickly examine what would be profitable and achievable with today’s technology?

Well actually there is a way!

Focused hacking days involve, for one day only, one or more business people working with one or more software people to develop an idea for a new product from a blank slate to a working prototype using today's latest and greatest technologies. In contrast to traditional software hacking days where only the software team is involved, a focused hacking day is a collaboration between the business and the technology teams.

Nothing pleases programmers more than working with great new technology and seeing how the boundaries of those technologies can be pushed. Having the opportunity to do so for your company on a new product idea is often an extremely rare privilege.

Nothing pleases business people more than getting flesh on the bones of a concept quickly without endless meetings and form filling.

The concept involves focusing for one day only on new product ideas. Each idea must be supported by someone from the business side to validate its profit potential and someone from the software side who thinks they can create something within a day that could capture the essence of the system.

Focused hacking days are definitely not about thinking how a new idea could fit within existing product sets, and nor do they involve thinking about how the new system would fit within existing technology portfolios.

A company's value is based to a large extent upon its relationships with its clients and customers. Therefore being able to integrate client feedback and/or ideas would give focused hacking days even greater leverage.

Having a capability to react quickly to new product opportunities via a collaborative process between software and business teams is a competitive advantage that is becoming a must in today's rapidly changing business and technology environment.

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