Evonik Collaboration Suite – Establishing a new way of team collaboration

Evonik

Evonik is one of the world leaders in specialty chemicals. The focus on more specialty businesses, customer-orientated innovative prowess and a trustful and performance-oriented corporate culture form the heart of Evonik’s corporate strategy. They are the lever for profitable growth and a sustained increase in the value of the company. Evonik benefits specifically from its customer proximity and leading market positions. Evonik is active in over 100 countries around the world with more than 35,000 employees.

Challenge to be solved

Acting as a global enterprise and being dependent on successful team collaboration, Evonik faces the challenge that more and more members of teams are spread over various locations and even time zones, but need to be able to quickly share information. To foster successful teamwork the Evonik employees were in need of a state-of-the-art suite of intuitive applications for team collaboration. In 2014 an enterprise wide IT initiative was started to implement Office 365, including

  • a 5-in-1 communication tool for fast and uncomplicated access to colleagues and partners
  • a document management solution to work together on documents, always being able to access the latest version and to share updates with colleagues
  • a business social collaboration platform to easily spread news and knowledge in real-time within a team and to build professional networks
  • a synchronization solution to make relevant information available offline and ensuring an automated synchronization
  • an enterprise wide search to efficiently search and find relevant information across various sources

Evonik intended to get the most benefits out of these applications, knowing that pure product implementation, migration support and training offers would not be sufficient to establish a new way of collaboration within the company.

A Change and Communication initiative was started to create awareness, provide knowledge and convince all Evonik colleagues about the benefits using the new collaboration applications during daily work. External support was needed to elaborate the change and communication activities and coordinate the implementation measures to reach everyone at Evonik: NOVELDO brought in the required combination of project experience in guiding companies through digitalization initiatives and change management expertise for the implementation of collaboration solutions.

Robert Reisert, then Head of Collaboration Services at Evonik, acknowledges: "NOVELDO made a substantial contribution to our migration to the Microsoft Collaboration Suite. Besides technological topics they helped us to implement a whole new way of collaboration. Thereby, it becomes apparent consistently how important it is to have people at your side with up-to-date IT knowledge – and furthermore, superb communication and change management skills." 

From autumn 2014 to spring 2017 NOVELDO worked with Evonik in the Change and Communication team on realizing the vision to establish intuitive IT tools for a simplified collaboration with the Evonik Collaboration Suite. 

The solution

First, the Change and Communication team elaborated a change and communication strategy for the Evonik change process.

A vision was developed as a first key element of the strategy ‒ an idea of what the future could look like, and an inspiration for colleagues to engage with the Evonik Collaboration Suite:

"… We now want to take the next step to further optimize the way we address the ideas and solutions of tomorrow in teams and projects as well as with customers and external partners. The new Evonik Collaboration Suite assists us in this endeavor by ensuring smooth communication, transparent knowledge sharing, and access to relevant information  at any time, from anywhere, and on any device …" 

Working with business, IT and regional representatives on communication and change measures the Change and Communication team: 

  • detected the optimal combination of applications and features for the "New way of working", 
  • developed a clear set of use cases as proposal how to benefit from the Evonik Collaboration Suite, like "working together on documents", "effective meetings", "personal effectiveness", also considering modern collaboration concepts like "working out loud", 
  • designed a communication and change program applying a mix of channels and formats to reach as many Evonik users as possible with information about the new way of team collaboration - virtually, face-to-face or ‒ very economically – printed, 
  • prepared use case specific information and training sessions for all Evonik colleagues, using, for example, live webinars to spread the knowledge in all regions within a short timeframe, 
  • built and cared for a social business community being the central place for information around the new way of working, incl. all training material, regular project updates, exchange of experiences and especially for user questions, being answered by the Collaboration team and other users, leading to quick responses and self-service among the users.

 In addition, NOVELDO provided technical knowledge for the migration of Microsoft SharePoint 2013 to SharePoint Online.

Benefits of the implemented solution

Evonik successfully realized its vision for team collaboration within the company and with partners.

The Evonik Collaboration Suite stimulates efficient and effective team collaboration, leading to quicker exchange of information, less time needed to agree on documents, simpler organization of virtual meetings, better finding of relevant information.

The Evonik Collaboration Suite is heavily used by business and project teams – usage of the document management solution doubled within a year, the number of users of the social collaboration platform was increased by 30%. Colleagues can reach each other easily to exchange ideas, discuss news and clarify questions – across locations and time zones.

The well-established social business community of the change and communication team remains one of the most popular communities, providing an easy channel to reach Evonik colleagues for any collaboration updates and news, but also to collect their requirements and needs for future initiatives.

Overall, the modern way of collaboration is very well accepted and sustainably leads to more opportunities to accelerate the Evonik business.

Summary and key learning points

In conclusion, the success of the Change and Communication initiative was especially driven by four relevant aspects: 

  • Enabled users ­– use case-based information and trainings, providing orientation and explaining options of the collaboration applications instead of deciding for the users how to make best use of the Evonik Collaboration Suite 
  • Vital business community – an online community, being regularly updated based on current relevance and interests of community members whilst being permanently accessible for questions and comments from all Evonik users around the globe without time delay 
  • Knowing what you know – a well-informed change and communication team, knowing the project development and community content by heart as well as having access to project experts to clarify new specific user questions 
  • Living what you preach – management and project team as pioneers, using the new collaboration applications for their daily collaboration with others, e.g. for communication, documentation and information sharing around the project, so that the users can experience the applications in action 

The Change and Communication initiative for the Evonik Collaboration Suite was a real success for Evonik and for NOVELDO as consultants, bringing together competence about collaboration principles and products, experience about change processes and combining it with a down to earth attitude to be in contact with users of various levels in the organization.

As for every digital change initiative: once implemented it is not finished. 
The new way of collaboration will change constantly – the digital workplace is an ongoing effort for every company.

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