//OneWeek — Hacking Inspiration

| Adam J. Hecktman


Want to know why I loved last week? Yes, we launched Windows 10. Yes, we launched some cool Power BI. But more importantly, this was //OneWeek. //OneWeek at Microsoft is a companywide Hackathon; a multi-day, global event that brings interdisciplinary employees together to create, innovate and hack. Hack on what? On anything that inspires you.

You come up with an idea, post it to an Azure site, and if others are inspired to, they join you in the hackathon. Last year’s first company-wide Hackathon marked the beginning of a new movement to bring our collective ideas to life. It brought together 12,330 employees, 80 countries, and 3,058 projects. There are all kinds of events around //OneWeek – Science fair, expo, voting, the whole bit.

A few months ago, I met James Rudyk, the Executive Director for the Northwest Side Community Housing Center. They provide housing and financial education, assistance to those who are threatened with foreclosure, guidance for first time homebuyers, and a host of other community organizing and services. They are funded by multiple funders, including government, foundations, and individual donors.

Because each funder requires different types of reporting, multiple types of data for each case must be tracked. This has led to a situation where service providers are entering the same data in multiple spreadsheets. They are, in fact, doing a quadruple exercise in on-boarding a new client! Like many in his space, James’ technology became a blessing and a course. What he really needed was a way to use the minimal number of forms to enter the information; and the flexibility to provide multiple types of reports for multiple funders.

I advised James that Dynamics CRM may be a great way to create easy forms to get the data on each case in once. It has a flexible reporting engine to provide the ability to create whatever reports the agency or a funder could require.   Best of all – if we solved this for Northwest Side, we solve this for 54 housing centers in Chicago…and any housing center around the country! They could spend their time serving citizens in need, not entering the same data over and over again.

I posted this as a //OneWeek project. I was very surprised and delighted to find that applying skills of all types to a civic challenge was something that a LOT of Microsoft people were interested in. In fact, we had a team of over 20 people from around the globe. They hacked for the week, in partnership with the non-profit. You can see the story of this and other //OneWeek projects targeting Tech for Good, along with some photos, here.

Many thanks to the team of Ali Arbab, Betsy Franczyk, Daniel Dirocco, Frank La Vigne, Hazel Rice, Jacob Cynamon-Murphy, Jake Rynar, James Rooney, Jason Oppler, Jim Gourley, Joneil M Sampana, Judith Mercer, Kenichiro Nakamura, Lisa Anderson, Liz Abunaw, Maira Khwaja, Pramay Baldawa, Reid Tileston, Ryan Shepherd, Sarah Richardson, and Shelley Stern Grach!

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Adam J. Hecktman

You may recognize Adam. He’s a regular on TV, you can hear him on the radio, he’s penned numerous articles and is the co-founder of the Chicago City Data Users Group. But some of Adam’s most important work is done behind the scenes in his role as Microsoft’s Director of Technology and Civic Engagement for Chicago. Tech giants, universities and government leaders turn to Adam for guidance on all matters technology, and he happily obliges, helping Chicago overcome challenges and capitalizing on new, exciting opportunities.