SKG – The digital workplace with IBM Connections

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A few years ago Stichting Kerkelijk Geldbeheer started using IBM Connections to share knowledge, documents and updates. Improving collaboration between colleagues. However, adoption of the platform was not automatic.

Stichting Kerkelijk Geldbeheer (SKG) provides financial services, in particular to Protestant churches and related organizations in the Netherlands. Operating from their offices in Gouda. The team is busy every day to provide their customers with the best service possible. Until a few years ago, collaboration and knowledge sharing took place almost entirely ‘offline’ or in separate digital documents. “Minutes were worked out on paper”, says IT Manager Dick Veenstra. But even information relevant to the client, such as the current interest rates, were updated manually in Excel files.

Many versions of the same files

This often led to chaos. Especially when, for example, different versions of the interest rates were in circulation. “With a great impact on the services. You definitely want to communicate the correct, current rates to the customers. That should not depend on which letter or version of the document the employees happen to have open at that moment”.

In recent years, the work pressure has increased. In order to guarantee the quality of the service, and to improve collaboration, Veenstra went in search of a digital solution. “At an IBM event, I was introduced to IBM Connections. The platform enables efficient sharing of files and streamlines mutual communication. As far as I am concerned, the right solution for SKG”.

Veenstra immediatly saved the interest rates in IBM Connections, to eliminate the misunderstandings they had experienced previously. Everyone immediately had access to the right, up-to-date rates.

Resistance

Nevertheless, the introduction of IBM Connections within SKG was not an easy task. It was not welcomed with open arms. Veenstra: ”We have always done it that way’ or ‘we communicate face-to-face’ is what I often hear. It’s not so strange: people are naturally reluctant to change. Management was also not immediately enthusiastic”.

Nevertheless, management gradually began to appreciate the value and started using the platform for meetings. “Paper minutes became a thing of the past. During the meeting, they could immediately set out action points in IBM Connections. Working out the minutes later was no longer necessary, and everyone immediately had the right information”.

Workshops

Veenstra called in Silverside to help increase the adoption of IBM Connections for the rest of the team. “During workshops and training sessions Silverside presented the value of using the platform in practise and that opened eyes for many colleagues. The Credit and Payments department in particular, started seeing the added value and started adapting the tools slowly but surely”.

In practice the Credit and Payments department quickly began using the platform. They created a variety of Wikis for describing business processes in IBM Connections. As a result, everyone always had access to the right procedures. Once that happened, the platform spread within the organization. Now SKG uses the digital tool for all kinds of processes, the platform is especially popular for distributing internal updates.

Solid basis

Veenstra is not yet done with his task to deploy IBM Connections more broadly, but the foundation is now established within the whole organization. “At the moment, the platform is used for internal updates as well as recording meetings and storing central overviews. A number of colleagues even uses the platform on a smartphone”.

According to Veenstra, the adoption process is primarily a matter of patience and trust. “People must start to see what the platform offers them. When a number of people become enthusiastic, the rest automatically follow. I am pleased that Silverside gave us a push in the right direction”.

IBM Watson: is it the next step?

At the moment, SKG is busy implementing the platform: SKG Online. After the launch, we will continue to work on ‘collaboration’. Also – partly due to the introduction of IBM Watson – there is interest in the next step: accelerating complex processes. Currently financing takes a lot of time and demands a lot of resources from the organization. However, in the future the deployment of bots may provide a solution.There is a need for the rapid processing of information on permits, laws and regulations drawn up by the government, among others”.

We are very satisfied with IBM Connections. It has allowed us to grow as an organization and to deal more effectively with processing information. ”

Read more about the success story of IBM Connections at Kawasaki Motors Europe.

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