Imagine the scale of operations that a company would need to move 6.2 million passengers and 596 thousand tons of freight via 40 thousand trains across a 33 thousand kilometer-long rail network. It’s an incredible volume of people and packages—and one that is orchestrated by German rail service Deutsche Bahn AG every single day. (By the way, that adds up to over 4 billion passengers per year!)
Behind this symphony of speed and scheduling is an incredible IT, transportation, and logistics infrastructure supported by over 3,600 men and women at DB Systel GmbH. Managing over 1,250 projects per year, the Frankfurt-based ICT (Information and Communications Technology) provider is an indispensable cog in the DB machine. Their innovative ideas ensure that a corporate enterprise like Deutsche Bahn can remain nimble and future-forward in a competitive transportation landscape.
Keeping pace with the demands of modern transport is one thing, but gaining a lead on the competition is an additional challenge that the DB Group is committed to achieving. Part of their strategy is “Code Zukunft” (translation: Code Future), an internal incubator program that aims to discover and develop cutting-edge digital processes that can be scaled across the entire organization.
In 2015, project management was a top priority under Code Zukunft. The internal IT team at DB Systel GmbH, which coordinates with all divisions of the company, required a collaborative tool to help manage the volume of varied requests and hundreds of fields of knowledge they work across on a regular basis.
In the spirit of discovery that defines Code Zukunft, the team surveyed and presented a selection of programs they used most often in their daily work to accomplish tasks and projects. The goal was to identify a tool that would work well for small teams and wouldn’t require complicated onboarding or training.
After a sub-team tested a spread of potential programs, CIO Andreas Slogar noted that one tool in particular was named repeatedly: Trello. Across the board, he and his team identified that the top benefits of using Trello matched their initial goals in looking at project management tools:
In addition to being clear and inviting for less tech-savvy employees, Trello was a natural fit for their digital collaboration culture. The mobile app was a welcome addition for their large European remote team, notes Andreas, as employees often work on a variety of devices while traveling to different locations across the continent:
“It was important for us to include everyone in finding the solution. Nowadays, employees vote with their hands and their feet. They can either leave the company, because they are not provided with the right tools, or they can access any technology with their smartphone and make things happen.”
While a core team of enthusiasts took the initiative to educate and train more team members about boards, lists and cards, the next step was to ensure that Trello would be a fit at scale with DB’s data needs, and to consider the impact of Europe’s latest digital privacy regulations.
As the first North American digital services company retained by Deutsche Bahn, Trello had the opportunity to collaborate with Deutsche bahn within the new EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework, which had been recently implemented in July of 2016.
The process of activating Trello Enterprise for over 1,000 DB System employees took about three months, during which teams from both organizations worked together closely.
“The people at Trello are creative and solution-oriented. For a company like ours, with all the restrictions that we have, Trello is a perfect development partner.”
At DB Systel GmbH, Trello is part of a collaboration suite of tools that supports internal agile project management. The ability to organize Trello boards by stages (lists) and tasks (cards) matches perfectly with the Kanban methodology they use to manage projects.
“Trello is simple and intuitive and fits in perfectly with our agile way of working. We do work internationally and digitization has reached every field of our business now.”
Beyond the project workflow itself, DB is receiving positive reactions from employees now that Trello has become part of their daily workflows. The organization is finding that team members are more engaged in projects when they have the right tools. They recognize that, in order to attract top talent, it helps to empower teams with the best available technology to do the best work possible. Even better, they have seen a decrease in complaints about internal IT solutions.
Upcoming initiatives include adding Single Sign-On (SSO) and exploring the Trello Power-Ups universe for integrating other tools into team workflows. They credit the successful onboarding and data security process as a gateway towards testing and implementing complementary tools that can continue to boost innovation and employee satisfaction across the entire DB organization.
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