How to Run #Hack4Good Using the Power Platform

I have just completed another Hack4Good event, my second for the year. My first one was in London in February 2019 and the second in Atlanta June 2019, as part of Microsoft Business Applications Summit. Both events used Microsoft technologies to create digital solutions. Technologies included Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft Power Platform, Microsoft Azure as well as other third-party solutions.

I hope that all over the world people will get involved in bringing together their skills. It is incredible what can be achieved in a single day for local charities participating in Hack4Good events.

Charity, Non-Profit, Non-Governmental Organization

Many charities are trying to maximize the money they have to serve the communities they support. Often charities use labor-intensive processes to carry out activities, not necessarily using the best available tools or having access to process efficiencies and automation. I have typically seen paper exhaustive processes. Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint are often the only software used to plan, organize, and report on the charity’s programs of work, projects and field activities.

Hack4Good is a perfect opportunity for people with design, business, and technical skills to come together in a day-long event to create digital solutions for charities.

Charities should take advantage of these events to get out of their day-to-day activities and let people with fresh perspectives look at challenges, blockers, and process improvements to develop digital solutions that are practical and applicable.

Hack4Good Day Format

A Hack4Good event format involves teaming volunteers with design, business, and technology skills up with people from the represented charities; what we would call Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). People from charities should know the problem or situation well and be able to provide insights and feedback throughout the Hack. Team members with design, business, and technology skills should have skills in one or more of the following: Office 365 Apps, PowerApps, Flow, Power BI, SharePoint, and Azure.

In addition to this, all team members should be familiar with the following:

There are several key things that need to be considered and planned for in setting up a Hack4Good event:

  1. Hack4Good Date
  2. Hack4Good Location
  3. Hack4Good Facilitator
  4. Recruitment of Teams
  5. Recruitment of Team leaders
  6. Recruitment of Charities
  7. Recruitment of Sponsors
  8. Catering
  9. Prizes/Awards
  10. Speakers/Presenters
  11. Trophies

Once all the planning has been done and the big day arrives with all the teams’ setup and ready to go, the format is as follows:

8:30 am Opening: Explaining the goals and focus for the Hack4Good event, a motivational speaker as well as sharing the outcomes desired by the various charities.

9:30 am: Teams start working on their solutions through to 4:00 pm.

4:00 pm: Teams are selected in random order to present their solutions. Each presentation is timed with a maximum of 5 minutes allocated per presentation.

5:00 pm: Judges report on the winning team.

There is plenty of flexibility in the way the day can be run, but don’t take too much time for the opening. I have seen one opening that ran for about 2 hours, with all the sponsors speaking, and it frustrated the teams that want to get down to business and get working. Keep the opening as short as possible. Drinks and snacks should be provided all day long with a lunch provided in a ‘brown-bag’ type format so that teams can grab their lunch and keep working.

How to Run Hack4Good using the Power Platform

Teams

Teams are the most important thing to get right for an effective hack. If possible, eight members are best, including the team leader.

Consider the following from a team member representation point of view.

As you can imagine, there will be a cross over in skill sets, but a broad mix of skills on each team will enable creative solutions design and development.

Theming

Teams should go hard-out on theming their teams with a color. It creates a good bond for the team and adds to the fun of the day.

For example, as a team leader of the Blue Team, I did the following:

  • Created a Hashtag #TeamBlue
  • Blue tablecloth for the team table
  • Blue led lights for the team table
  • Blue beads
  • Blue sunglasses
  • Blue sweatbands
  • Blue confectionary
  • Blue bowties
  • Blue wig for me 😊 

Judging

Prizes

Live Stream

Live streaming your Hack4Good is a great way to be inclusive for all that could not attend. All you need is someone on each team to bring a webcam, setup OBS software, and have a Twitch account. It allows those that cannot attend to comment and share on what they see on social media.

Other Resources

When it comes to resources also consider the following:

  1. You will be needed individual trials of Office 365, Azure and CDS environments with licenses for each person on the team.
  2. Each team member needs to bring their own laptop.
  3. Great Wi-Fi coverage for all to connect (or a wired connection with a hub on each team table).
  4. Large computer monitors for each team table.
  5. Each team table needs power for the laptops.
  6. Music (playlists to motivate throughout the day).
  7. Food.
  8. Colored tablecloths for each team table.
  9. Presentation screen for morning kick off and end of day presentations.
  10. Fun and Humor in large measures.

As I got into this post, I realized I could go on and on forever as there are so many details I could share. For now, I hope this is a good primer to get you started.

If you want to run a Hack4Good event, please free to get in touch.

Also, I am keen to hear your comments on anything I missed or other insights you can add.

ABOUT US

My wife, Meg, and I love visiting the world, we want to make sure we finish life empty and have experienced everything this world has to offer, we try and get away as often as possible and have spent the last seven years …

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