- Stackfield's versatility ensures that the needs of each department are optimally met
- Regular training courses and personal support guarantee a smooth onboarding and satisfaction among employees
- Chat function and video telephony bring back the social component
The oekom verlag is the leading German-language publisher in the field of ecology and sustainability. For more than 30 years, the publisher has been committed to the sustainable development of politics, economy, and society. Whether books or magazines, scientifically ambitious or rather practice-oriented – oekom's publications offer everything worth knowing about topics such as climate protection, biodiversity, energy transition, or post-growth economics. As a sustainable company, the publisher consistently ensures that its products are designed and manufactured in an environmentally friendly manner. And social togetherness is also important, such as flat hierarchies, equal opportunities, work-family balance as well as internal transparency and employee participation.
Switching from email to a collaboration tool
Karin Herkert and Johannes Kang are part of the central administration at oekom and are responsible for electronic data processing (EDP) and thus also for Stackfield. By the end of 2019, there were initial ambitions at oekom to change internal communication, which, until then, primarily focused on email and telephone. In addition to communication, collaboration was also to be optimized through a structured task and project management.
Karin Herkert – Commercial Management at oekom
So, the two of them got to work and, by means of a needs analysis, determined which tool would be best suited for the work at the publisher. The focus was supposed to be on communication, but project management functions, such as a Gantt chart, were also on the wish list.
The corona pandemic then initially pushed the selection of a tool into the background, but once the initial hurdles had been overcome, it was also precisely the pandemic that made a change necessary. It was clear to everyone: "We need to organize ourselves differently now. We're working from home – how can we talk to each other now?" And so they resumed their research. "Stackfield caught our eye and stood up to our evaluation criteria," says Karin Herkert. "With some providers, it was either all communication or all project management. Stackfield has that combination of both, which is ideal for us."
Personal support as a guarantee for optimal onboarding
Since Stackfield is anchored in the central administration, Johannes Kang and Karin Herkert were also in charge of the implementation of the tool. Here, too, they thought about how best to introduce employees to the topic. After some deliberation, such as drawing up a detailed concept, oekom ultimately opted for a simpler yet effective method:
"We made a conscious decision to use agile project management for the rollout. We specified certain corridors and created a guideline in which we explained the most important functions and also, which way of working might be useful."
The two created areas for the whole company such as notice boards or central calendars themselves but gave the individual departments free rein in organizing their work areas. Since the processes and workflows there are sometimes very different, the departments should structure themselves and see whether and how they can best use Stackfield for themselves and the respective area. According to Karin Herkert, prescribing a specific structure would have been doomed to failure. "We left it up to everyone, in order to achieve the greatest possible acceptance by everyone involved."
Another decisive factor for the successful implementation of the tool was that the two of them were always available as central contact persons and still are. Because oekom is always developing further with Stackfield and there is always an attempt to make adjustments. Karin Herkert and Johannes Kang are very keen to stay in contact with all areas of the company and to ask every now and then: Is everything running smoothly? In addition, Johannes Kang regularly conducts basic training courses and consultations to refresh knowledge, communicate updates or provide food for thought on the use of Stackfield.
"There are always people who find the transition more difficult. It is important not to build up pressure and to always offer help. There needs to be a central person in charge of Stackfield who is actively reaching out to everyone time and again and showing understanding."
Stackfield as a versatile tool for collaboration
At the publisher, the individual departments work with Stackfield in their own unique way. While the book and magazine areas each have rooms with individual structures and processes for project handling, the IT department works primarily with a ticket system in the Kanban board. Different areas have different needs, of course, but the versatility of the features makes Stackfield usable for everyone. "We now use almost everything. The fact that there are different modules with individual functions is really good for us," says Karin Herkert, and Johannes Kang adds, "You don't have five different tools, but just one. Everything is customizable and yet, everyone is in one place." Whether it is day-to-day business or larger projects – you can map everything and that is exactly why Stackfield is so suitable for the publisher.
Everyone agrees that communication at the publisher has also changed significantly. "You can now differentiate very well: Emails are used with externals 95 percent of the time, while internal communication runs via Stackfield." Although Stackfield is currently mainly used for internal collaboration, service providers are increasingly included via external accesses.
Johannes Kang – Financial Accounting and IT Project Management at oekom
Along with this, the tasks module is also a real asset to the publisher and has brought the longed-for structure to daily collaboration. Here, tasks can be clearly assigned and files can be attached and edited. "In the past, we always had problems working together on files. This is now possible thanks to local editing."
In addition to the individual departments, there is also a room for the entire company. This is where employees can exchange ideas and views, tasks regarding the entire company are bundled and knowledge management takes place. For the latter, the pages module in particular has become increasingly important, because information can be stored here and employees can acquire bundled topic-specific knowledge via the folder structure.
And, of course, Karin Herkert and Johannes Kang have their own personal favorite features. "I love My Week! My Week is just for me, it's where I can view my tasks and see who I have to reply to. That was also a decisive factor in our decision to use Stackfield. And there are also the filter functions," says Karin Herkert. Johannes Kang particularly likes the reports function: "You can summarize knowledge across rooms and organize yourself quite well. You can easily have information displayed centrally, which is why I really like working with this function."
But for both of them, one thing is certain: The overall package is simply good.
Stackfield brings back the social component
According to Karin Herkert, oekom has always been a very social company, promoting togetherness and collaboration in various ways. After everyone had to work from home due to corona, personal, even spontaneous meetings were drastically reduced from one day to the next. The chat function and the notice board in the discussions module, for instance, somewhat compensated for this. "Stackfield was able to give us back some of the social togetherness due to the fact that we can call each other quickly, sometimes with video or even just with audio, or just leave a quick message in the chat," she says. "That is often forgotten, but I think it's very important."
Plans for the future
Karin Herkert and Johannes Kang agree: The introduction of Stackfield was a very good decision. "And we still have a lot of things planned," says Karin Herkert. One of the main goals for this year, for instance, is to optimize file management – establishing a more conscious approach to files and developing new processes. Furthermore, they are very excited about the new whiteboard function, as there are several use cases for it at oekom. "We're already looking forward to further updates and think it's great that Stackfield is always evolving and does not stand still."