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Stackfield promotes agile collaboration at Lucerne ZHB

7 min read


  • The combination of functionality and data protection was convincing from the beginning
  • Cross-location collaboration is finally mapped centrally
  • Information is easily accessible to all employees, regardless of their institutional affiliations
  • Stackfield enables greater transparency to employees and better engagement on organizational issues

About the Central and University Library

The Lucerne Central and University Library (ZHB) is a cantonal and university library with currently four locations: the library of the University of Lucerne and the Lucerne University of Teacher Education, two locations for the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts and one location for the general and cantonal public. Since 1951, the Central and University Library in Lucerne, as a general and scientific library, has been a central place for literature and information for research and teaching, study and work, leisure and entertainment. In addition to books and journals, it also offers a wide range of electronic media and information resources, as well as regular events such as readings, lectures and workshops, and guided tours. The ZHB is thus an important educational and cultural institution in the region and helps to promote educational opportunities and cultural life in Lucerne.

The initial situation

Before Stackfield, the agile collaboration of the individual organizations and departments of the ZHB was characterized by a colorful mix of tools: From Trello to Meistertask to SharePoint or even the network drive, everything was represented, but one looked in vain for a uniform tool. Access to important documents stored in the individual tools was thus reserved only for members of the institution, and according to ZHB Director Benjamin Flämig, this made collaboration increasingly difficult – there was no trace of transparency. After the corona pandemic caused the majority of the staff to work from home, it soon became evident that a solution had to be found.

"At some point, this went too far for us. At the latest during the pandemic, when everyone had to work from home, we needed a tool that was under our control, where we could invite people and give everyone an account – regardless of their institutional email address. And this is where Stackfield came into the picture as a cross-institutional, low-threshold platform."

Benjamin Flämig – Director of the Central and University Library

More than ever, it was important for everyone to be able to access the same documents and get an overview of what was currently happening in a project. And the need for a communication tool soon emerged as well. "It quickly became clear that Stackfield offered a good solution because it runs very smoothly without infrastructure via web access or with the app on private devices and simply facilitates access to all documents and work on joint projects," says Flämig.

Why Stackfield?

Many tools, little data protection – this was the situation before Stackfield. The ZHB was therefore very keen to centralize collaboration on one tool and, in particular, not to neglect the data protection aspect, since, according to cantonal requirements, a data protection-compliant tool was especially important. Previously used tools had never been able to combine these two aspects – either because they were not GDPR-compliant or because of limited functionality: "On the one hand, data protection was important, and on the other hand, being able to map everything in one tool – there are few alternatives," says the Director.

"We were looking for a single, comprehensive collaboration solution that is compliant with data protection regulations."

A simple web search then led the team to Stackfield. The Head of E-Services and Digital Services Beat Mattmann recalls: "When you are searching for a collaboration tool with high data protection standards that is also certified, you quickly end up with Stackfield."

First steps with Stackfield

Since many tools were already in use, some feared that the introduction of another one would result in information overload. For this reason, it was important to dispel the employees' concerns and present them with a detailed concept explaining which tools should actually be replaced by Stackfield and when to work with the tool. "The underlying idea was: Whenever you collaborate with others on ongoing projects and where low-threshold and short-term collaboration is needed, you use Stackfield. If you just want to distribute information to everyone, you continue to use circular emails or news on the intranet," explains Flämig.

Stackfield was then first introduced to the teams that were most interested in collaboration software and needed to work intensively with it. These included, for example, the IT department and areas that provide very centralized services and need to collaborate with many different institutions, such as the teams responsible for e-media as well as research and publication support. "After that, the whole thing grew organically," says the Director.

To demonstrate how best to use Stackfield, Beat Mattmann posted a series of simple, short tutorials on the intranet showing different use cases for the various task areas. During internal information events in a relaxed atmosphere, Mattmann also demonstrated how he uses Stackfield for team and project work, but also personally. To this day, it is a matter of concern for him to keep inviting people to get in touch with him if they have any questions or even to drop by in person to ask questions and offer advice. Mattmann is certain: "This has helped to break down certain barriers and to meet the needs of individual people.

More transparency at all levels for better collaboration

At the ZHB, there are rooms and areas on Stackfield for entire locations, individual departments and teams, for projects and committees, personal as well as short-term rooms for meetings or similar. According to Mattmann, the possibilities of the tool are used very heterogeneously: "Some use it primarily as a communication tool, others have very developed Kanban boards, and still others use it mainly as file storage and for documentation. The biggest benefit is also really in these possibilities and that you can set up as you need it in each case."

The IT department uses Stackfield in a particularly diverse way and with a great focus on transparency. In a public room, the entire file storage as well as common tasks, major projects and goals are displayed on the Kanban board and everything is labeled – so all locations and departments can always see what the IT department is currently working on. But there is also an internal room where important documents are stored and where people can exchange ideas in the group chat. In the department, the calendar module is also used for vacation planning. Everyone enters their upcoming absences here, and you have everything at a glance right away and do not have to subscribe to multiple calendars in Outlook.

Beat Mattmann – Head of E-Services and Digital Services

At the organizational level, the flexibility of Stackfield also offers enormous advantages for Benjamin Flämig, and he uses the tool in various ways. As an example, he cites annual planning, which has become a completely transparent and participatory process thanks to Stackfield. Towards the end of the year, employees are called upon to enter any annual goals, ideas and wishes in individual tasks in the Kanban board. These are then moderated, filtered and clustered, questions are asked and additions are made in the comments section. "This allows us to be transparent: Which goals have been put on hold and which have been merged? A big advantage is also that the person who submitted something is always automatically informed and sees what is being done, what is being discussed and added, and who is responsible in the end," the Director tells us.

In addition to annual planning, the internal job board is now mapped in a separate room on Stackfield, and that also works very well, according to Flämig. In the Kanban board, a ticket is created for each job, in which all relevant information such as job descriptions and contact persons are included. Department, team and site managers can use it to see which positions are currently vacant or which new ones are being created and to match the needs they know of in the teams with offers from other teams.

The guiding principle of transparency runs through the entire collaboration and can now be implemented optimally with Stackfield. Benjamin Flämig particularly appreciates this: "You often have colleagues who do not feel well informed. It can now be clearly shown to them that all important information on current topics is made transparent on Stackfield. That is an important success for me."

Reading room
Reading room of the ZHB Lucerne (© Daniela Burkart)

Mattmann and Flämig both also noted that the tool has been very well received. When actively asking for feedback, Beat Mattmann notices that there are few problems, but many ideas. "That says a lot about the fact that people have gotten used to it and that the tool is firmly integrated into everyday work." Stackfield has led to the desired success in promoting agile working and has significantly improved cross-location collaboration at the Central and University Library.

"Tools are always a byproduct of agile working. But it is also about the underlying values, to which one must also feel committed. The tool enables a lot, of course. If you are in different locations and do not see each other in person that often, which is often the case with us, it has become extremely easy to work together in an agile way, even in cross-institutional and cross-location teams."

Plans for the future

With Stackfield, agile working at the Central and University Library could be sustainably promoted and optimized. In the future, however, there should be even more movement around Stackfield. Continuous development is particularly important to the ZHB, which is why more ideas for use will be gathered from employees and more use cases will be created.

What is particularly exciting is that this year, a student is dealing with agile transformation in her Master's thesis and, in the course of this, is conducting a survey at the ZHB. The aim is to find out how employees generally feel about agile working and whether technical hurdles or perhaps personal values play a role. A confidential survey will get to the bottom of these issues in order to ultimately also be able to assess the general mood and to find out what could be worked on. "Do we need more training or personal consultations? Or is there, if any, an area needing improvement at the all-important value-oriented level that stands in the way of more transparency and participation and improved collaboration and communication?" Questions for which Flämig and Mattmann expect insightful answers in order to develop agile working with Stackfield even further.

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Cristian Mudure
About the Author:
Cristian Mudure is the Founder and CEO of Stackfield. He loves digital business models and spends his spare time on the tennis court.
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