- The project work of entire departments at Europa-Park can be mapped centrally in Stackfield
- Multiple tools have been brought together in Stackfield as an all-in-one solution
- External parties can be integrated into projects with limited rights
- Management has direct insight into the current status and updates
- My Week and the project portfolios help keeping an overview
With around 5.8 million visitors (as of 2019), Europa-Park in Rust, Baden-Württemberg, is the most visited theme park among German-speaking countries. The amusement and theme park has been run by the Mack family for eight generations and has already been named the best amusement park in the world several times by the US magazine "Amusement Today". A variety of attractions, experience hotels, and restaurants offer visitors a unique experience. Now, new since 2020, are the attractions of the virtual reality experience center YULLBE. With the help of state-of-the-art technologies, adults and children can experience individual adventures in a virtual world here. YULLBE was personally initiated by Michael Mack, one of Europa-Park's managing directors, and aims to set a new benchmark for VR experiences.
Virtual Reality at Europa-Park
Marcus Ernst has been working at Europa-Park for a little more than four years, three of them at the newly founded Mack NeXT. As the design department of Europa-Park, Mack NeXT was spun off into its own GMBH & Co KG a few years ago due to increasing external orders and is now represented internationally as a designer and consultant for innovative theme park design, media-based entertainment, and media content. Here, Marcus Ernst works in a small project team as a project manager for the development of YULLBE products and was one of the first people to use Stackfield.
Especially after the re-establishment of Mack NeXT, the team had to struggle with many different isolated solutions that had been used over the years. "Slack, ToDoList, Wunderlist, Google Feeds, Trello Boards... There were countless of them and these are just the first tools that come to my mind," says Marcus Ernst. The company wanted a global solution with which the numerous external projects and contract work could be handled within the team and made accessible to different user groups, both internal and external. In addition, they wanted to create more transparency towards the management to ensure that information, such as the status of a project, could be viewed at a glance. Europa-Park finally found what they were looking for in Stackfield as an all-in-one solution. Marcus Ernst tells us, "This actually goes back to direct contact with our CEO Michael Mack. I wasn't involved in those discussions, but I know Michael Mack was very taken with the Stackfield tool and its solutions." One of the key factors for Michael Mack was the possibility of hosting data on their own servers within the scope of the GDPR.
First steps in the team
Once the management team decided on Stackfield, Mack NeXT began using the tool on a project-by-project basis in small teams. "We started covering the first projects with Stackfield in a pilot phase. All internal project participants were invited to the respective rooms. Everything was then expanded from project to project, first limited to Mack NeXT only and then beyond Mack NeXT into other departments of Europa-Park." The respective project managers, including Marcus Ernst, were the first to be introduced to Stackfield and were then able to train everyone involved in the project. After initial project trials on the platform, the teams began to include external users with limited rights in the projects directly on Stackfield. By now, this is common practice at Mack NeXT.
"I believe that in a larger company, whenever a new tool is used, the first thing to do is to convince the colleagues of its benefits. With Stackfield, we succeeded rather quickly because the benefits were very obvious. Stackfield was able to convince us very quickly."
Today, Stackfield is employed globally at Mack NeXT for project management and in many other departments at Europa-Park, such as the social media and digital research departments.
Central management of projects
By enabling Mack NeXT to move from many different tools to one global solution through which all project work could be managed, Stackfield was able to simplify project work many times over. "I now manage all my projects with Stackfield. They are heavily focused on the YULLBE project area and the further development of this division of attractions. For example, I handle the development workflow or our jour fixe in the individual project teams as well as large external customer projects, such as for the Miniatur Wunderland," explains Marcus Ernst. With the help of YULLBE, the Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg, known for the world's largest model railroad, can now offer a virtual reality experience of a special kind: Visitors can enter the Wonderland themselves as a 1:87 scale model figure.
Marcus Ernst – Creative Project Manager at Mack NeXT
Even external parties are integrated directly into the project rooms on Stackfield and receive individual permissions depending on the project and role: from reading the content alone to admin rights in the room. Marcus Ernst follows a specific pattern for each project: "When I get a new project, I start by creating a project room and then add the internal project participants who already have a Stackfield account. Then I prepare the room, activate the modules I need and deactivate the ones I don't. Finally, as part of the kick-off with the client, I introduce the tool." As project manager of many projects, Marcus Ernst uses the project portfolios to gain an additional overview. "We can map the entire project coordination very well via Stackfield. This we have noticed especially when working on the Miniatur Wunderland or the recent Aurea Award - an event we produced now in its fifth year and where we work a lot with external agencies." Being able to combine projects in individual rooms in a single tool was a big step forward for Marcus Ernst.
"Before, we were working with many different tools, with different cloud services, where we had to spend time gathering the information in different places. On Stackfield, we can now view, comment and manage information at a glance."
Transparency towards the management
With Stackfield's help, management was to be given more insight into the daily work of the project teams. Mack NeXT was able to achieve this transparency through the all-in-one solution. "There is no longer a need to gather information from umpteen different databases, such as the status of a project, an update, or a specific report. Instead, supervisors and management can look into a project and see at a glance what the current status is, what's being worked on, what's been completed, and what's assigned to whom for approval." In relevant projects, management is sometimes even included directly in the room. This way, approvals by the management can be mapped very centrally in the room.
"Where there were individual silos or solutions in the past, especially in terms of reporting to supervisors and management, Stackfield has helped us a lot."
Less is more: My Week and Kanban in the spotlight
Marcus Ernst sees a lot of potential in Stackfield's basic functions in particular. For Ernst, the My Week dashboard is an integral part of his everyday work and supports him in his personal organization. "Stackfield is the second program I open in the morning, along with Outlook, and it stays open all day. The first thing I do is look at My Week. I'm very consistent and give every single task and subtask a due date and an assignment. I've transferred all of my to-do lists completely into Stackfield and aligned my day with the My Week feature, which means I look at what's due today and what tasks I need to check out. Then I go to each room, each project, and work through the tasks." The Kanban board is a great help to the team and provides a quick overview.
"Especially the basics we use a lot, like the tasks tab. Just having the different columns and being able to see what's currently in the backlog, what's in progress, what's for sign-off, and what's already done. It helps us greatly with the number of projects we have."
Except for an extra column for the jour fixe, Marcus Ernst makes few modifications in the room. "We mostly stick to your standard, it works very well for us."
Marcus Ernst makes a recommendation
"I think it always takes a little bit of time to implement a new tool in a company, whether small or large. But with Stackfield, I can tell you from my experience, it was much faster than implementing other tools. It's simply the more accessible tool, and the benefits are more readily apparent. We're certainly not using all the features yet, and there's definitely room for improvement, but revolutionizing everything wasn't necessarily the goal for the tool. It's the small things that make project management a little easier every day."