Success Story: AFS Interkulturelle Begegnungen e.V.
Zenkit improves AFS Germany's team collaboration with transparent project management and efficient team knowledge management.
AFS Interkulturelle Begegnungen e.V. (AFS) is a non-profit organization based in Hamburg, Germany, as part of the international AFS network. Fostering youth exchange and intercultural learnings have been their core values over the past 70 years. In addition to student exchanges, host family programs, and intercultural training programs, AFS also offers participation in Global Prep vacation programs and volunteer services in the social, cultural and environmental fields. Currently, AFS Germany has approximately 3,000 volunteers organized in over 100 local committees and have helped over 2,300 young people from and in 50 partner countries. It‘s not hard to imagine the complexity in managing projects and people in such a big organization. Around two years ago, AFS Germany chose Zenkit as a collaborative tool to implement in their organization. We had the chance to interview Victor Baum, the head of IT at AFS Germany, who shared the insights of what Zenkit is used for at AFS Germany, and what results they have se after implementing Zenkit. If you‘re interested, don‘t miss the article below!
Project management, organization, and knowledge management
“We’ve seen a rapidly increasing number of collections after a short time of introducing Zenkit.”
Introducing a new tool to any team and getting everyone on board might be as challenging as choosing the right tool. Or, is it even the right tool if team members find it difficult to understand and we have trouble rolling it out to the team? Fortunately, this struggle does not take place at AFS Germany. Victor told us that shortly after the introduction of Zenkit, an increasing number of collections were already created to manage important projects! It indicates that Zenkit is highly accepted in the team and was effectively implemented right away.
Until now AFS has used Zenkit to manage their work on about 100 internal projects. All full-time employees at AFS work with Zenkit on a regular basis, and many volunteers work with Zenkit as part of their work in committees, which amounts to more than 300 active users. Besides work purposes, Victor shared with us that many employees like Zenkit and use the tool privately to manage personal matters as well!
Apart from using Zenkit to manage projects, AFS also loves Zenkit Base’s wiki view for effective knowledge management in the organization. For a long time, as in many other organizations, Victor and his team had been wondering how to best document the knowledge available in their association. Victor told us, „We were particularly surprised by the possibilities offered by the wiki view in Zenkit Base“.
As an example, Victor shared a collection in the screenshot below. As straightforward as its name „AFS Wissensmanagement“ (AFS knowledge management in English), this collection serves as a centralized space where vital information is stored. For instance, guidelines regarding each stage of their customer journey, including acquisition, application, preparation & companion phases, can be easily found in a well-structured way. Furthermore, AFS have also organized & outlined processes and knowledge that is specifically relevant to different departments respectively, such as IT, Communications/Marketing, HR, Events and many more. This not only helps new members to get onboard and find information easily, but also enable existing members to always refer back to the organization guidelines and instructions.
“The wiki view allows us to effectively set up knowledge management.”
“Key users of the departments have full access to the department wiki, while others have read only access.”
Victor pointed out that the set up of this organization wiki was particularly simple and effective. Because the team had already implemented Zenkit Base for project management purposes, employees were already familiar with the tool. They quickly finished the set up of a workspace where wikis of various departments as well as the central wiki that combines these wikis were created.
Besides, in each department there are a few key users who‘re responsible for actually editing the articles in the collection and keeping the organization wiki up to date, meanwhile, the rest of the team require different permissions. With the „User Roles“ feature, AFS was able to set up each key user as „Collection member“ and allow full permissions within the wiki collection. Similarly, they could set up the „Guest“ role for other members who only need a read only permission. As a result, Zenkit helped AFS to ensure certain rules are taken into account when creating and maintaining articles and that the organization wiki grows in a moderated manner.
Zenkit has improved AFS‘s project management & knowledge management process. In terms of project management, Victor told us that with Zenkit Base, the projects are transparent for all participants. According to Victor, the way projects are documented in Zenkit and its rich features including the possibility of making comments, creating subtasks, assigning tasks to other project participants, and enabling automatic notifications are highly appreciated. In terms of organization wiki, Victor and his team were able to collect, retain and distribute team knowledge in an effective and organized way with Zenkit.
We also asked what Victor would like to share with someone who was considering Zenkit for their team. He told us that with Zenkit, one gets a modern tool to organize both projects and personal work. The different views allow a suitable presentation for each type of project, which fosters transparency in the team collaboration. Besides, one can easily utilize the wiki view to ensure a well-prepared and presented team knowledge, along with granting the team members different access permissions. In the future, AFS Germany is hoping to integrate Zenkit even further into their daily work, which speaks for itself!