Tax Hackathon Magic – The IT Democracy Awakens

SAP Ruum and Evonik establish a new era of IT.

Ruum Team

Natascha Josipovic

November 16, 2020

4 min


What’s your first thought on hackathons? Picture this: A large room where programmers and engineers gather to frantically develop software or an application as fast as they can. Coke bottles and Red Bull cans everywhere, pizza boxes, and the stuffy air to complete the ambiance. With the onset of the pandemic, these days are passé. But we found a new way to run our first ever Citizen Developer Hackathon with Evonik.

A virtual hackathon in fall 2020 is more different than just the location. In times of Citizen Development, every employee in a company can contribute to creating the big idea – no matter what department, line of business, industry, or technical know-how. The role of SAP Ruum in this game is clear: Empowering non-technical users to participate, and to create their own process automation, easily and without code.

We weren’t able to make this happen without our customers and partners. Evonik, one of the world leaders in speciality chemicals, is seeking new opportunities in the area of Business Process Management, so we took the opportunity to team up. On 28 October, tax experts from Evonik and our SAP Ruum product experts gathered for the first virtual Tax Hackathon.

Many of the Evonik experts had never encountered application development. With the help of their SAP Ruum teachers, they had two hours to create tools for handling three complex tax assessments and process use cases:

  1. Employee gifts
  2. Dinner liable to wage tax
  3. Company events

Although the virtual setting is rather uncommon for a hackathon, we saw highly motivated and engaged citizen developers. In the beginning, some participants seemed skeptical regarding the tight schedule. However, after a short warm-up session, they rapidly realized how low-code/no-code enables them to independently build their urgently needed automated processes that simplify their daily work routines.

“It is very exciting to see how easily you can transform manual work into automated processes without code. Also, SAP Ruum has a good integration and an appealing interface. We assume we can significantly reduce our process lead times. That’s why SAP Ruum is so interesting for us.”

- Marcel Gerloff – Digital Labs Evonik  

“Most of our processes are still manual and take a lot of time. In this hackathon, SAP Ruum empowered us to create faster and more efficient tools to focus on our real tax work. That is exactly what we need.”  

- Annette Linau – Head of Indirect Tax & Digitisation Evonik

The hackathon was a great opportunity for both Evonik and our SAP Ruum experts to understand the potential of low-code/no-code solutions on the battlefield where IT meets non-technical users. During the hackathon, citizen development unfolded its complete fascination. Although Evonik’s non-technical employees were thrown into cold water with an alien solution, they easily modeled completely new tools within a single morning. It was impressive to see, how fast they clicked through the application.

“I didn’t think that we can create these complex tools in such a short time. After I saw the agenda, two hours seemed far too short for such complicated uses cases. In the end, it went very smooth and simple. It was great fun.”

- Ines Hackbarth - Evonik

“I am very surprised that we were able to deliver results in such a short time. Look over the edge of your desk to build processes on your own was very cool. This hackathon was only the beginning, I guess.”

- Claudia Loeser - Evonik  

Our first Tax Hackathon was a fruitful practice to bring IT and non-technical users closer together. The democratization of development comes to life and SAP Ruum and Evonik are in the middle of this new era of IT. We learned that Citizen Development is not only a means to an end but also fun - even with complex uses cases. It took only one morning to create three individual tools for Evonik’s tax department.

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