Tips & tricks to run a Power Apps hackathon
Application Development Manager Cissy Ho provides a great walk-through of running a large scale Power Apps hackathon with over 100 participants in-person and virtually.
Power Platform provides a low code approach to developing mobile friendly apps, or to perform business process automation. The common data services makes integration easy to connect to existing data sources. We found that a hackathon for Power Platform can help users ideate and put together a Proof of Concept to validate an approach and demonstrate value quickly. Below are our experiences that may help you and your teams to ignite the journey.
Preparing to hack
- Pre-Events: We have collected a list of online training material which is listed at the bottom of this post. We have setup all hackathon team communications through Teams channels. Each hackathon team has their own channel to collaborate and share presentation materials.
- Weekly Calls: The technical Q&A calls offered a forum for individuals to get answers to their questions from technical subject matter experts. We had close to 60-85 attendees to ask questions or listen in to learn.
- Ramping Participants: Microsoft Technology Briefing Center (MTC) delivered Power Apps sessions that helped many developers get ramped-up with the tool and start developing ideas using the Power Platform.
Engaging a virtual workforce
- Learning Sessions were made available through Teams so that all remote workers could actively participate and ask questions. During the event, there was a dedicated Teams Channel and Premier Field Engineer (PFE) on standby to support remote Q&A and troubleshooting.
- We included an Observers role at sign up. This option allowed participants who didn’t have time to participate in the hackathon to learn. This fostered an inclusive learning culture for all.
Ready to “Hack”
On event day, the room was buzzing and full of activity: ideation, learning, troubleshooting, and working on solutions. In addition to over 100 virtual and in-person participants. We had a near 1:1 ratio of technical proctors to assist each hackathon team. This helped participants build solutions faster and made for a more valuable learning experience.
Hackathon teams could sign-up for a variety of learning sessions, such as: User Experience, Power Platform, Teams, Azure Cognitive Services, and SharePoint Online Clinics.
User experience and ideation sessions were also held, to guide teams in developing stronger, more original ideas. Incorporating design thinking helped ensure the final presentations were thoroughly articulated and tested.
In just three days, hackathon teams quickly turned their ideas into Minimum Viable Products (MVPs) using Microsoft’s Power Platform. Solutions ranged from business automation pipelines, to changing the engagement of every day end users, to solutions that enable the business to run more efficiently and in more engaging way.