2015 Monthly GovSense Sprint-A-Thon

 In Blog

We often miss the opportunity to brag on an important part of our puzzle here at GovSense: our Research and Development team. They’re the quirky coders who solve problems each day for our delivery team and most importantly, our customers.

Many times, we hear and see some of the most amazing things R&D does and my first instinct when joining GovSense was to publish all of the fantastic things we are doing to empower local government to build smarter communities. But I quickly learned that most of the time, our R&D team wants to keep their cards close to their chests to ensure our competitive advantage in the industry. After seeing how little our competitors were doing to support the same initiative, we came to a compromise:

The leadership team decided they could let me in on the most exciting day of each month here at GovSense: our Monthly Sprint-A-Thon! I could blog about the process, the challenges and the outcome to brag on behalf of the winning team.




Each month, I will be posting about our Sprint-A-Thon.  But first, a little background:


Rules of Engagement

Weeks before each Sprint-A-Thon, our CTO Gary McTall selects team captains. Each team captain has 5 business days to pitch Gary on their idea for the upcoming Sprint-A-Thon.

So far, no one has taken more than one business day to flood Gary’s inbox because either our developers are hoarding ideas, waiting for their turn or we only hire GameChangers. Maybe both.   




The team captain gets 5 minutes to pitch Gary on his/her idea. Captains will know if their pitch is accepted, but they are not allowed to share the concept with any team members. If it is leaked, they get an idea selected from the backlog. Long story short, no one besides Gary and each captain know what they are working on until the Sprint-A-Thon day.

Now the fun begins.

The morning of the competition, we start out with a very exciting tradition: draft time!




Now that teams are selected, each team has 12 hours to design, build and document their solution. Sometimes teams finish early, but mostly they are staying to the last minute adding in those little nice-to-haves for their solution.

There is a tremendous amount of collaboration that happens during this time. I spoke with Gary regarding the background of the Sprint-A-Thon and he said, “We do this to better our team for the short run and long run.”

“We want GovSense Gamechangers bettering themselves each day. Having them experience the pressures and epic joys of the software industry makes it easier to envision a common goal. For instance, the 5 minute pitch, organizing a team, and exceeding expectations to help GovSense Gamechangers see the value in an inverted pyramid. Being part of a growing R&D team is stressful and there is a lot of pressure to solve many time-sensitive items. This monthly event gives our developers the chance to blow off some steam and come together for a common goal.  Something they created, not something sales, implementation, or our customers came up with.”

Once all of the code is checked in at 8 p.m., the team captains have until the next Monday to prepare a pitch to the entire company at our all-hands meeting. After that meeting, each employee has an opportunity to vote and crown the winner.  Winning team gets a prize and the team captain gets to hold onto the Championship Belt until the next Sprint-A-Thon.


Stay tuned for updates for each of our Sprint-A-Thons!




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