Operations Dashboard: A Game-Changer for Making Informed Decisions

The leadership team enjoy a discussion at the table

Our operations dashboard enabled us to spot an opportunity to utilise time for team building. This blog explains the thinking behind ‘The Brightec Holiday Hackathon’ and how it played out for our team.

As Head of Operations, it’s my job to balance the company's health and success, with the team's health and happiness. The two are so closely connected, and can greatly influence the other, positively and negatively.

Back at the start of Q4 2023, I spotted an opportunity for us to ‘down tools’ a week early before the end of the year and utilise some time for team building, allowing for a slower wind down into the Christmas holidays.

Navigating Operations with Confidence

Between my Operations Dashboard which I use to track all the key figures I want to be aware of and the additional team information I pull into my fortnightly Operations report, I have a near-live and well-rounded grasp on the company and team data. Click here to read more about the importance of monitoring the right data, and how to use it for accurate forecasting and proactive planning.

I’m typically quite confident in my forecasted figures. I tweak them as the year progresses, and I like to compare them back over the year to check in and see how the actual figures compare to the forecasts. Looking at one of those key figures, ‘Forecasted Revenue’, I can see that my estimated forecast at the start of 2023, and the final figure at the end of 2023 had a 0.018% discrepancy.

Having this data, and confidence in the figures, enabled me to spot an opportunity to do something great for the team, without any negative impact on our clients or company health. The right data allows us to make informed decisions with ease. It also supports discussions on any risk management with a full picture.

During an Operations Review meeting, I raised a suggestion that we could pause client work early before Christmas to conduct a ‘Holiday Hackathon’. I provided several figures along with this suggestion to highlight where and what any impact would be financially, as well as suggested mitigations for any potential project disruptions.

After discussions with the leadership team, we all felt it was an opportunity worth diving into. Knowing predicted forecasts in advance gave us plenty of runway to organise projects and sprints accordingly, as well as give the clients and team advance notice to align calendars.

And so began the planning of the ‘Holiday Hackathon 2023’.

Using a Hackathon for Team Building and Skill Development

The underlying goal of this Hackathon was for each team to have a week to create a prototype or proof of concept and present the ‘workings’ and final product to three judges.

We wanted this experience to be beneficial to the individuals in the team and the company as a whole. It was important for us to have cross-departmental teams as well as mixed skill levels. We also wanted the team to have a chance to work alongside people they didn’t usually, and for people to be working on something they had a passion for.

The idea behind the Hackathon was heavily weighted to the ‘Happy’ part of our core value; Happy and Profitable. Click here to read more about the Brightec Values.

With this in mind, we decided to start from the team’s preferences and work backwards. A survey was set up to get 1st and 2nd choices amongst the three main areas we identified that we could focus on; Charity, Client, SaaS.

Upon analysing the survey responses, we were able to organise the teams using the above parameters and give 80% of the team their first choice, and 20% their second choice.

How we structured our Hackathon to foster creativity and collaboration

With the groups set, we presented these and the format of the ‘Holiday Hackathon’ week well in advance so people could begin to have some thoughts swirling around in the lead-up to the kickoff. Click here for more about how we aim to inspire our team.

The structure was as follows;

Day 1:

  • 9:30 - 12:00 Ideate, sketch, plan

  • 12:00 - 13:00 Team Lunch

  • 13:00 - 13:30 Early feedback session / opportunity to pivot

  • PM: Refine and outline the plan for the week

Days 2-4: Prototype, develop

Day 5:

  • 9:00 - 10:00 - Final pitch prep

  • 10:00 - 10:45 Group 1 pitch

  • 11:00 - 11:45 Group 2 pitch

  • 12:00 - 12:45 Group 3 pitch
    • Pitch to judges with team audience

  • PM: Any feedback and wrap up

  • 14:30 Winners announced

During the Hackathon week, I remained ‘external’ to any teams, and drifted between them to check in on progress, help with any blockers or issues, and ensure that everyone was going to be in a place to happily present on the final day.

Can a Hackathon encourage transformative team growth?

I loved watching how the teams worked together. It was really fun to see the gradual progression from ideation to completion, the approach each team took, and the involvement of everyone in each team.

As Head of Operations, it was refreshing to see projects from a different perspective. I got to see a small insight into life as a client at Brightec; the ideation process, where different team members’ passions lie, and how their strengths and weaknesses play off each other.

The Hackathon provided a space for team members to try out different roles or be led by natural strengths. Team Leads became equal to Trainees as the teams worked together to form, define and develop their ideas. Engineers got to explore UX and the design processes and Designers found themselves dictating the priority of various tasks.

All of the team threw themselves fully into the Hackathon experience. There was excitement, enthusiasm, and some incredible work completed.

I was proud to watch the team present their projects. The final prototypes were well thought out, interactive, and delivered to a high quality. It was also great to see the difficulty the judges had during deciding deliberations (which got quite heated), emphasising how impressive each team’s work was.

While the week looked different for each person, and each skill set was utilised in different ways, the Holiday Hackathon was a really valuable experience. It enabled the team to wind down into the break, do something they wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to, with people they wouldn’t usually, and use skills that sometimes can go underutilised. Everyone gained a wider perspective of the roles of others and appreciation for the parts we each play in a project.

Maintaining a robust Operations Dashboard, confidence in the figures tracked, and having a good handle on the company’s financial and productivity health doesn’t just make you more stable, but creates an ever-improving cycle of strong output leading to these unique opportunities to give back to the team.

The Hackathon week instilled in us all how important and valuable it is to be able to make these decisions proactively and securely. We’re confident we made the most of an opportunity to highlight our core values and ensure we’re championing them.

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