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ShipIT legacy to Mambu’s engineering culture

Blog postby Ciprian Diaconasu
5 min read

For 7 years now, we have been organizing ShipIT - Mambu’s internal hackathon. By now ShipIT has become a tradition and if you are part of the Mambu Product team (any engineer, product manager or solution engineer) — whatever your department, you are given the opportunity to work on a project of your choice and assemble a multidisciplinary team around you (one idea, one technical solution, imagined and developed by colleagues with various skills).

How does ShipIT work?

Mambuvians are challenged to think about a problem/idea and a way of addressing it. ShipIT participants promote the idea and find their perfect team (5-7 members) for the implementation phase. The event unleashes people’s creative energy more than day-to-day operations. The only rule is that all participants must improve the Mambu product and its ecosystem — in any way they see fit.
The 7th edition was a special one because for the very first time ShipIT was a  100% online event. Mambuvians ventured into a virtual approach while remaining connected, enjoying the dedicated time for creativity and innovation capacity. This edition was also unique because of its global set-up, connecting locations such as Iasi, Vilnius, Amsterdam, Miami, Singapore, Berlin, Sydney and Chile, demonstrating that ShipIT hackathon can be done truly remotely. In the end, ShipIT 2020 gathered 154 Mambuvians across 8 locations worldwide, who submitted 23 ideas involving microservices, devops, agile, business metrics and more.
The event had 3 phases:

  • Think IT: Mambuvians were encouraged to come up with ideas, a way for addressing them and set up a team to implement it.
  • Build IT: After they did some thinking about the problem, the teams started to build their solutions.
  • Run IT: Finally, it was time to showcase the work, in a massive conference-like event, boast a little and enjoy the compliments. The most important takeaway from this stage is the knowledge sharing that teams do between each other.

What is the ShipIT 7th edition legacy?

Learn organically
As people learned organically from each other, they became better equipped to solve other teams’ problems and created stronger bonds.
“Do you know the saying “Monkey see, monkey do”? Well, that’s exactly one of the key benefits from ShipIT: by getting together and working in groups, we foster social learning, that is, we learn by observing what others do and imitating or modelling that behaviour. Social learning is also a great source of motivation and I saw it in my group because the more findings and ideas team members brought to the table, the more it inspired the rest to keep on investigating and exploring new possibilities.” Veronica Tienza, Instructional Designer

Usable ideas, product features and prototypes
What we have been impressed by most is how many usable ideas, prototypes, and product features emerged at the end of this ShipIT.
"It is incredible to see how much engineers can achieve given the full autonomy and focus in just three days. Most of the initiatives explored in the ShipIT will have a fundamentally positive impact on our internal efficiency, the way of working as well as the particular capabilities offered to our customers.” Ben Goldin, Chief Technology and Product Officer

Train curiosity
Creating space for people to play with ideas and have fun together wakes up that curious part of our brain that was most active when we were children.
“This is my first edition of ShipIT, therefore I was very thrilled and curious about it. I must admit it exceeded my expectations. It came up as a positive surprise because the ideas, the quality of the presentations and the work of all the teams were amazing. The 7th edition of ShipIT was a wonderful experience which showed me how much can be achieved in this organisation during a short period of time with a clear focus on something. What I really appreciated is the fact that it was not a typical hackathon where you see few leader teams shine and the others remain in the background. In our ShipIT experience, it was quite the opposite: the majority of the team kept the bar high!” Andrius Bagdonavicius, Platform & Reliability Engineer Champion

Team spirit
Finally, the team spirit we experienced during this event has been unparalleled. It strengthened the relationships and confirmed once again to all Mambuvians what a cool bunch of people they are.
“Our team members were spread across Iasi, Vilnius and Amsterdam. Driven by the same problems, we were able to focus and collaboratively identify the best ideas that solve major pain points. Moreover, the collaborative and open-minded approach allowed us to discover various hidden talents in the team. This again proves how important it is to have an open-minded environment which is essential for creating synergy and building a team spirit that flourishes.” Ignas Ašmontas, Service Reliability Engineer

How would we translate - ShipIT?

A short, intense plunge that allows our Mambuvians to experience a creative disruption in an electric, vibrant way.
“ShipIT! - the 7th edition! Wow, time flies so fast... I recall when we had our first edition and the ideas were about misc small improvements :) During these 7 years, Mambu’s development team grew so strong that right now the ideas are at an amazingly high level of impact. It’s clear that we invested a lot of energy into encouraging everybody to be bold and to constantly apply innovation into our daily lives in order to make them much better. I can clearly see the benefit for our customers and for the entire Mmabu team if all of this year’s ideas would be implemented!” Ionut Penciuc, System Owner

What’s next?

With the still-fresh memory of what happened this year we already started working on concrete plans into handling the key aspects we’d learned and tried in this year’s edition. We are excited to start implementing some concrete MVPs as soon as possible.
Seeing this project growing so beautifully every year, makes us wonder what the next edition will look like and so on. There is no doubt that the ShipIT journey bears the imprint of an unbridled desire to become better.

Ciprian Diaconasu

Ciprian is VP Product Engineering at Mambu. He is responsible for the engineering talent developing Mambu's platform and ensuring our agile engineering processes are adopted by our rapidly growing team. He oversees how Mambu combines talent and technologies with customer understanding and rigorous platform testing.

Ciprian Diaconasu