FUNKE MEDIENGRUPPE transforms editorial and software operations with a secure collaboration hub on Mattermost

In the competitive world of media production, speed is everything. Editorial and software development teams need tools to help them be as productive as possible, so they can deliver time-sensitive news and high-quality content to their readers daily. Mattermost provides FUNKE MEDIENGRUPPE with a powerful collaboration hub that integrates with external content providers and management tools while keeping all messaging data secure. As a result, FUNKE teams can work faster together to better serve their readers.

A traditional media company thrives in the 21st century

Founded in 1948, FUNKE MEDIENGRUPPE is one of Germany’s largest media companies. Its portfolio spans print publications, such as regional newspapers, women’s magazines, TV guides, and advertising circulars, as well as radio and websites. Every day, over 1,500 journalists and 4,500 media producers deliver 12 daily newspapers, more than 50 magazines, and a wide range of digital content and services. The company operates in 50 offices across the country with its headquarters in Essen.

After 70-plus years in the traditional media business, FUNKE has evolved many of its processes and products to help the company stay agile and competitive in the digital age. The company is focused on making software development a core competency, moving from waterfall to agile methodologies, and delivering real-time, high-availability online services. In addition, new technologies help the high-pressure editorial side of the business stay on top of daily news cycles and produce a fire hose of new content for print and digital media. 

As part of its digital transformation initiative, FUNKE looked at new ways to improve team communication and collaboration, as well as create a culture of open, transparent communications. The company had outgrown the capabilities of IBM Notes and its built-in messenger, so teams moved to Outlook, using email and groupware features like calendaring, task management, and scheduling. However, this approach did not solve the problem of communication silos and overcrowded inboxes that hampered productivity.

Modern messaging for today’s complex enterprise

FUNKE realized that it needed a modern messaging platform with a feature set that could truly empower the company’s diverse teams to be more productive and efficient. The IT team initially explored Slack, but the platform did not meet all of FUNKE’s enterprise security requirements. With the European Union’s GDPR regulations, FUNKE’s IT team needed to be in full control of communication data in order to maintain confidentiality and prevent information leaks.

FUNKE’s platform research brought them to Mattermost, a self-hosted alternative to Slack built on an open source platform. The platform offered the security, configurability, and scalability needed for an enterprise-grade messaging experience on any connected device. Whether staff were in the office or in the field, FUNKE teams could use Mattermost as an easily accessible collaboration hub, helping to simplify and accelerate communications, as well as drive more efficient workflows through third-party integrations.

“We chose Mattermost because it was a self-hosted solution that offered quick team communication without the complexity of email.”

Tim Estermann, Editor, FUNKE MEDIENGRUPPE

Onboarding a diverse workforce to Mattermost

To make the switch, the company partnered with bytemine, a German IT services provider, to help them implement Mattermost. In the beginning, FUNKE piloted Mattermost with several editorial teams, about 400 employees, who used it heavily during their daily workflows. The platform enabled journalists, editors, technologists, production staff, and others across multiple offices stay connected and collaborate to meet demanding deadlines and produce high-quality, compelling content. Teams could easily share files and images, discuss layout options, and troubleshoot issues in real time. Mattermost also provided a searchable archive for staff to refer to previous conversations and decisions when needed.

“Most of our users are non-technical and Mattermost enables them to navigate easily, use custom emojis, and integrate with the third-party applications that they use every day.”

Tim Estermann, Editor, FUNKE MEDIENGRUPPE

Since the initial rollout, FUNKE has been onboarding more and more teams Mattermost, including IT and app development teams, as well as entire newspaper and technical departments. The solution brings the right people into the right conversations with the right tools—including calendaring, help desk, issue reporting and tracking, and infrastructure monitoring—to increase organizational agility, efficiency, and innovation. Funke deploys Mattermost to a private cloud under IT control, which offers greater protection for the conversations, usage patterns, and IP addresses of its staff.

“Mattermost is now our standard communications tool and we’re looking forward to embedding it further into our daily work.” 

Tim Estermann, Editor, FUNKE MEDIENGRUPPE

A growing landscape of integrated workflows

As Mattermost usage grows within the company, FUNKE is creating more and more custom workflows that help increase productivity in a number of critical business areas:

  • Jira issue tracking – At any given point in time, FUNKE’s technologists oversee at least 50 different projects. To stay on top of incidents and project management, IT and development teams route Jira updates to Mattermost using the Jira plugin.
  • Nagios infrastructure monitoring – FUNKE used the Nagios plugin to send notifications from Nagios into a designated channel on Mattermost. This enables IT teams to better track the health of the company’s tech infrastructure and troubleshoot any issues as soon as they arise.
  • Rapid bug or incident reporting – Whenever an employee finds an issue with a FUNKE system or service, that person can use Mattermost to inform the right technicians and share screenshots, video, file attachments, and code snippets. As some teams are still using Slack, FUNKE uses the Matterbridge plugin to route messages between Mattermost and Slack.
  • Continuous delivery/continuous integration – FUNKE’s development teams use a range of CI/CD tools, such as Jenkins, to help them deliver software faster. Mattermost’s support for DevOps tools and processes enable teams to build custom workflows within designated channels on the platform.
  • Deutsche Press-Agentur (DPA) news feeds – The German press agency delivers news to FUNKE directly into a Mattermost channel. As such content is extremely time-sensitive, FUNKE editors can take immediate action to publish the content and keep FUNKE ahead of the competition. As DPA uses Slack, FUNKE uses Mattermost’s Zapier integration to connect the two platforms for seamless data sharing.
  • Help desk operations – FUNKE runs internal tech support on Mattermost to help users solve a wide variety of issues with hardware and software.

The digital transformation journey continues

Mattermost has already provided Funke with measurable benefits, such as greater efficiency, improved collaboration on story development, and increased employee engagement. The media company plans to build on this momentum and expand its use of Mattermost to create even more custom workflows on the platform. Their roadmap includes implementing the RSS feed plugin, integrating more Jira and Desk-Net functionality, and adding video conferencing to Mattermost channels using Cisco Jabber. 

Since rolling out Mattermost, FUNKE has made great strides towards reducing email silos and creating an open messaging culture throughout the company. More and more employee information is being shared on the platform as FUNKE works toward its goal of onboarding 100% of the company.

“Yesterday, I sent one email and about 400 messages on Mattermost. If I can get email down to zero, that would be my perfect world.”

Tim Estermann, Editor, FUNKE MEDIENGRUPPE

About FUNKE MEDIENGRUPPE

FUNKE MEDIENGRUPPE is one of Germany’s largest media companies. It’s portfolio includes regional newspapers, such as Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, Hamburger Abendblatt, and Berliner Morgenpost, women’s magazines, and TV guides, such as HÖRZU, TVdigital, BILD der FRAU, and Frau im Spiegel. The company also produces content for radio and online publications. FUNKE’s digital offerings include job boards, health portals, and services for small and medium-sized businesses.

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