Why and when do you need a hackathon management software

December 29, 2017
4 mins

In 2018, HackerEarth conducted over 400 hackathons. This included hackathons for enterprises, governments, non-profits, and educational institutions. Companies spent approximately $1.2 million on hackathons for different objectives.  For instance, using HackerEarth’s innovation management software, GE Healthcare crowdsourced ideas and prototypes through hackathons, Amazon conducted Alexa hackathon to increase product adoption, HCL for marketing and branding, Societe Generale for hiring data scientists, and plenty of other companies for driving internal innovation.

These organizations chose HackerEarth for three reasons:

  • Availability of robust hackathon management software
  • Presence of a vibrant 2.5million+ global developer community
  • Expertise in hackathon-driven innovation

In this post, we will discuss the necessity of a hackathon management software. To be specific,

  • Do you need software to manage hackathons?
  • If so, when and why do you need a hackathon software?
  • What are the features to look for in a hackathon management software?

If you are here, it is safe to assume that you are planning to organize a hackathon. So here are a few questions that will help you decide if you need a hackathon software.

How big is the hackathon?

If you are planning to engage hundreds or thousands of people, then you should be prepared to handle a high volume of ideas and projects. The process of registration and judging also become increasingly difficult with more participants. If it is an internal company-wide hackathon, with employees participating from multiple locations, you need a robust platform to manage all communications and submissions. As a rule of thumb, if you have more than 50 people participating in your hackathon, you will need a software.

Is it an online or multi-phased hackathon?

Online hackathons give you a wider reach. But you will need a platform that supports ideas and prototype submissions. Specifically, you will need a file upload portal that supports a variety of formats that automatically opens and closes during the specified duration.

You can read more about the various types of hackathons here.online, offline, and two-phase hackathons

Is there an ideation phase?

If you are planning to include an ideation phase or run only an ideathon, then the role of a hackathon software becomes imminent. When it comes to ideation, the real challenge lies in combing through thousands of ideas, ensuring every single idea is evaluated efficiently and making sure the best ideas rise to the top.

A hackathon management software makes this task very simple. It helps assign multiple judges, set the evaluation parameters, and in the end, every idea is accounted for, with an option for feedback, if at all you want to validate the ideas manually. If you prefer automatic evaluation, you will need a sophisticated algorithm based on a solid crowdsourcing framework that gives visibility to the top ideas. Here is a glimpse of what a hackathon management software can do.

  • Assign multiple judges
  • Assign scores and ratings to ideas
  • Create a real-time leaderboard
  • Enable peer voting
  • Enable public voting
  • Provide real-time suggestions and feedback to improve ideas

One of the biggest challenges you may face is clubbing similar ideas. For example, during a sustainable development hackathon for a global energy company, we received more than 3,500+ ideas. A lot ideas were based on similar concepts and solving similar problems. For instance, there were more than 25 ideas that were based on decentralized energy production and consumption.

Thankfully, our software was able to club these ideas using Natural Language Processing (NLP). This feature of the hackathon software allows you to automatically read through the submissions and club together similar ideas under one common hashtag.

Are you running a Machine learning (ML) hackathon?

If you are running a Machine learning or a data science hackathon/challenge, the hackathon management software is a must-have. The highlight of the software is the auto evaluate feature. Here is how the process works.

  • Users build the model and submit their predictions on the test data sets.
  • User predictions are compared with original test cases, and based on the evaluation metrics, the score is generated.
  • Users can make multiple submissions, enabling them to continuously improve the model.

If you were to do it manually, it would take at least 15 minutes to evaluate a single submission. To give you an idea of the time saved, in our latest Machine learning hackathon conducted for Societe Generale, we had 5,500+ participants and over 2,500 submissions. If done manually, Societe Generale would need 625 hours/26 days just to evaluate the submissions.

Must-have features in a hackathon management software

When opting for a hackathon management software, ensure it has the following features:

Single sign-on & user restriction

If you are conducting an internal hackathon, then single sign-on (SSO) is the basic feature that the hackathon management software must have. It enables domain-based restriction for the participant.

If a company called ABC is hosting a hackathon, then only employees of the company with ABC.com domain can participate.

The user can also be restricted on the basis of “invite-only.” This avoids people registering for the hackathon by forwarding the registration link. This also allows to conduct business unit or geography specific campaigns.

Third Party Integration

Most organizations use Slack, Yammer, Teams, Flock or some form of collaboration/communication tool. Integrating the hackathon software makes it easier for the employees to participate, submit ideas, and engage.

Data Security

Data security is one of the primary concerns of many top companies. The best option for companies concerned with data security is to handle everything on their own servers. Your hackathon management software should provide the option of hosting hackathons on the company’s server as well as a private cloud.

Good-to-have features in a hackathon management software

Here are some good-to-have features in a hackathon management software that would make your life easier.

Customizing the hackathon flow: Having the flexibility to customize the flow, i.e., the number of phases, allows you to customize campaigns specific to your requirements.

Example: Ideation followed by judging followed by onsite hackathon.

Multiple campaigns: Running multiple campaigns across different BUs or locations helps in scaling the event.

Cloning a campaign: Replicating successful campaigns becomes easier and saves a lot of time.
Archiving a campaign: Allows you to re-visit campaigns and create a pipeline of ideas.


If a hackathon is your preferred tool for sustained and continuous innovation, then hackathon management software will definitely help in scaling the efforts and streamlining the process, while maintaining the consistency and making your tasks 100 folds easier. In conclusion, you will need a hackathon management software if the following list of 6 areas is of your concern.

  • Scale
  • Effective Idea management
  • Cross-functional collaboration
  • Data Security
  • Consistency
  • Ease of use

About the Author

Vivek Siva
Learned what not to do as an entrepreneur. An optimist with a love for business, the outdoors, and movies. Superpower: Ability to smile even when all hell breaks loose. Affiliation: World of witchcraft & wizardry

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